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RWA’s North Eveleigh Site Heritage Interpretation Strategy

The RWA’s North Eveleigh Concept Plan Preferred Project Report of September 2008 includes a Heritage Interpretation which the Executive Summary describes in the following terms: “In addition to the existing requirements for heritage protection, the Statement of Commitments has been amended to require proponents to develop Interpretation Strategies in accordance with the Interpretation Strategy Guidelines specifically developed for the site. This will ensure an integrated heritage interpretation which best reflects the site’s history.” The full text of the Heritage Interpretation Strategy is provided below.

1.0 Introduction

Heritage interpretation is a means of sharing Australian culture and history within communities and with other communities, new citizens, visitors, and people overseas. It is also a means of passing on the knowledge and appreciation of Australian culture to new generations.

Interpretation is an integral part of the experience of significant heritage places.(1)

The Interpretation Strategy will recognise three main strands of history and significance on the site. It will tie in with existing interpretive work for the Carriageworks and the proposed bridge between ATP and North Eveleigh forming the Heritage Walk.

The three strands of history and significance are:

  • Aboriginal history – from earliest times through to today’s community.

Research has found two early colonial images looking from Newtown to the heads of Botany Bay. These images form the basis of an understanding of the landscape prior to the arrival of European settlement. Interpretation of the history and culture of Aboriginal people in the Redfern area and their role in the workshop complex would be done in full consultation with the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.

  • Worker’s history – the stories of the workers; their varied backgrounds and skills, on the North Eveleigh site.

There are a number of published and unpublished sources that will be used to supply photographs and text for interpretive panels throughout the site.

  • Railway history – the story of the development of the NSW Railways and railway technology on the site.

As above, using published and unpublished sources and artifacts at present held by Railcorp.

2.0 Proposed Works

The proposed works outlined below take into consideration the Heritage Office Ingredients for best practice in Heritage interpretation.(2)

2.1 Carriages

As a former Carriageworks, passenger carriages will be used as the primary physical means of interpreting the site. Unfortunately, it is impossible to use carriages that were constructed in the workshops as these carriages, of timber external construction, are not suitable for long-term outdoor display. Obtaining such carriages is also problematic as only a limited number survive and these are vested in other preservation projects. It is proposed to use carriages that meet the requirement for durability and that have an association with the site through repair or maintenance.

Three carriages are proposed:

  • A passenger carriage located on the fan of tracks in the square in front of the Paint Shop. On the side towards the Paint Shop the carriage form static display, illustrating the position of a carriage on the fan of tracks. On the other side the carriage there will be a deck and ramps to reach carriage height, facilitating its use as a kiosk or coffee shop.
  • A stainless steel baggage carriage will be located on the rail corridor end of the traverser between the Paint Shop and Carriage Works. This would assist with an understanding of the role of the traverser and would contain displays interpreting the stories of the workers at Eveleigh and of railway history. The baggage carriage has few windows, making it suitable for internal displays as well as being secure.
  • A third carriage will be located adjacent to the parkland to the south of the site. This carriage will be used for interpretation of the history and culture of Aboriginal people in the Redfern area and their role in the workshop complex.

2.2 Interpretation Through a Worker’s Wall

Provision for interpretive plaques set on the brick wall of the Blacksmith’s Shop, to form a Worker’s Wall in the manner of the Welcome Wall at the national Maritime Museum in Sydney. The names of those who worked at Eveleigh would be set into the wall in combination with an online database to record and store the stories of workers.

2.2 (sic) Interpretation in Commercial Buildings

Machinery or apparatus pertaining to industrial processes carried out in the workshops will be located in foyers of new building as at ATP.

2.3 Interpretation of The Fan of Tracks

In addition to the location of a passenger carriage on the fan of tracks, interpretation will take place in the open part of the foyers of the commercial buildings located on the fan of tracks. In addition, the fan of tracks will be interpreted as part of the landscaping of the extensive open space in front to the Paint Shop.

2.4 Interpretation as Part of the Heritage Walk

Use of the Heritage Walk Bridge, the Baggage Carriage and Coffee shop as part of an organised Heritage Walk through the North Eveleigh and ATP sites. This will use audio discs available for hire as well as tours organized by volunteer guides.

(1) Heritage Interpretation Policy, Heritage Office, Department of Planning 2005.

(2) Ibid.

Source: Redfern-Waterloo Authority North Eveleigh Concept Plan Preferred Project Report Appendix 5 - Interpretation Strategy