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National Trust of Australia (NSW) Statement on North Eveleigh

The following Statement was issued by The National Trust of Australia (NSW) concerning the RWA's North Eveleigh Concept Plan for the REDWatch submission writing BBQ on Saturday 31st May 2008.

The Trust has argued for the identification of North Eveleigh as a railway heritage precinct for over two decades and, during this time, a series of changes have occurred that have progressively altered and constrained these opportunities.  Although the conversion of the Carriage workshops to house performance arts may be an acceptable adaptive reuse of one building in isolation, it is not the best use for the building, it ignores the heritage significance of the building itself (except architecturally) and greatly limits the ability of the rest of the site to be used for rail purposes.  Future planning by the Redfern Waterloo Authority for the North Eveleigh precinct will further limit any opportunities for rail heritage. 

In many ways, the proposed future for North Eveleigh may, in isolation, appear to be an acceptable adaptation of the site but, when considered in the context of rail heritage in NSW, its current situation and expected future resourcing, the Government’s plans for North Eveleigh represent an important series of lost opportunities based upon misdirected priorities. Whilst there may be attractive short-term financial benefits with the redevelopment of North Eveleigh for residential and commercial purposes, the long-term management of rail heritage in NSW is placed at jeopardy through an inappropriate, virtually inaccessible, location, lack of fundamental facilities and insufficient support to the potentially large volunteer community that traditionally is available to assist the conservation and operation of rail heritage. 

The present approach to rail heritage in NSW negates virtually all the commercial interstate and international tourism opportunities that exist in the rail heritage sphere that would be fundamental in ensuring that rail heritage would not be a drain on the public purse and thereby ensures that this popular and historically significant transport technology will always remain problematic and costly to manage.  Such short-sighted public sector planning is disappointing and, in our opinion, does not reflect the desires or expectations of the public at large.

The Trust is strongly supporting the Friends of Eveleigh's nomination of the Large Erecting Shop, its contents including 3801 and carriages (now removed from the building) and the connection to the main railway line for listing on the National Heritage List. Yesterday the Trust wrote again to Federal Heritage Minister Peter Garrett about the disposal by Railcorp of historic rolling stock and carriages and the present condition of 3801.

Graham Quint 
Conservation Director
National Trust of Australia (NSW)
Watson Road, Observatory Hill
Sydney NSW 2000
GPO Box 518, Sydney 2001
P: +61 2 9258 0179   F: +61 2 9252 1264