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Concern for the Railway Heritage of Eveleigh Workshops.

A Statement from 6th October 2006 from several former Eveleigh Workshop employees with a long held interest in preserving NSW Railway Heritage.

After seeing a number of recent public statements, official documents and private replies from State Government Ministers on the subject of the future of Eveleigh heritage items and NSW Railway Heritage in general. We are concerned that a number of discrepancies exist in these documents that need clarifying.

These discrepancies suggest to us that all interested parties in NSW Railway Heritage should come together to compare notes on what has been said independently to the various groups involved with NSW Rail heritage and the future of rail heritage in the Eveleigh area.

Our aim is to unearth all existing plans and end the piece meal approach to this important issue. When this is done we feel that a joint meeting with the Minister for Transport John Watkins, the Minister for The Redfern Waterloo Project the new office of Rail Heritage and the Minister for Arts should be held to clarify the concerns of many people like us.

The Redfern – Waterloo Built Environment Plan (Stage 1) August 2006

We have been interested in a table from this document being circulated by the Minister for the Redfern Waterloo Project The Hon Frank Sartor MP headed: “Heritage Items within the Redfern Railway Precinct (categorised in the Heritage Schedule)” This table list 12 major heritage structures on the site that are or will be affect. It should be noted that several of these heritage locations currently contain a range railway heritage items of importance. They are not restricted to Locomotive 3801 but include Powerhouse Museum Locomotives 3830, 3265, private loco’s, cranes and State Railway Carriages. See Redfern – Waterloo Authority web site details in Appendix.

Large Erecting Shed Assessment of Adequacy Report

Plans to move 3801 are clearly about knocking down the heritage listed “ Large Erecting Workshop”,  that is downgraded to the status of a shed in the table mentioned above. See the 3801 assessment of this valuable facility for NSW Heritage that is supported by the National Trust. See Large Erecting Shed Assessment of Adequacy. Republished  by REDWatch

12 Isolated Heritage Locations

The piece meal approach to the Eveleigh Workshops site over the last 20 years now leaves these 12 heritage locations isolated and unrelated to one another, without a single exhibition that explains the overall historical role of this area in the State’s history. Our criticism includes the Australian Technology Park that should have featured some reference to Australia’s use of steam technology as a background to modern developments. This venture appears to beheading towards a “ Business Park’ as several universities have now lost interest and multi store buildings are planned. So how long will the remaining two bays of the old Railway Blacksmith Shop last?

Some good work to retain connect with Eveleigh’s past is occurring in the Performance Art Spaces now being built in the Old Carriage works see “Edgy venue forged from gritty past” (SMH, 2-10-06, P12). Unfortunately this work has proceeded with no direct connection with former Eveleigh Railway worker or the Unions who were directly involved in the community arts activities on the site for over 100 years.

 (3) News Release – 20 Million Plan To Conserve NSW Rail Heritage As Collaboration Urged Over 3801

This news realise provides some details of the establishment of an “Office of Rail Heritage” who are to be responsible for a 5 year plan of “ Sustainable Rail Heritage” for NSW (as a whole) and the establishment of a independent panel on how “ 3901 should be best managed. ”The power of this new office and its responsibilities are important factors in the future of the Eveleigh site but a hunt through documents fails to make their responsibility clear.

 The Redfern Waterloo Authority Act requires that all surplus Government lands, “after an assessment of future needs” must be transferred to Redfern Waterloo Authority for urban renewal purposes. RailCorp we understand has a responsibility to retain Eveleigh land that is required for the future operation of the metropolitan railway system but the establishment of an  “Office of Rail Heritage” to be located in RailCorp raises the question will this “Office” assess the value of Rail Heritage on this site and report before it is handed over as surplus land to, a body who plan to remove many details of the sites earlier history?

 Express Your Interest in a Meeting

A meeting of all interested parties is needed to gather the facts in these various proposals. This information would assist all NSW Railway Heritage Groups, to understand what the lost of any of these sites like the “ Large Erecting Shop” would mean to the future of NSW Rail Heritage as a whole. 

We don’t want to see the establish of another “ Railway Heritage” body so we would urge all existing  organizations, including the new “ Office of Rail Heritage” and the Unions to consider co-operating with each other and calling a public meeting we will be happy to join in.. However as concerned people we feel bound to collect expressions of interest from others that feel a meeting is necessary to get the ball rolling. Please contact us with the following information: 

Name of Interested  Organisation/ individual (Contact details) .....................................................................................

Possible Meeting Place  Please indicate

Coffee Shop New Loco (  )  Union Office RTBU Redfern (  )  Railway Historical Society Redfern  (  )   Other suggestions ………………………

Time  During the day  10am  (  )   2pm (   )   6pm  (   )  Other Time..

This statement was prepared by:

Richard Butcher  Author of The Great Eveleigh Railway Workshops - A Personal Reminiscence. 98744385
Bob  Rymes   Eveleigh Locomotive Workshop Committee (1950) 93719884
John Lee    Eveleigh Locomotive Workshop Committee (1950) 95289763   
Brian Dunnett  Co-Ordinator Trains of Treasure Exhibition  96689051

See appendix for details of where you can get some of the documents referred to above is provided below.