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Letter from Clover Moore to Morris Iemma - 27 November 2006

The following letter was sent by Clover Moore to the Premier concerning the future of the Large Erecting Shop and 3801 following the departure of locomotive 3801 from the Large on 27 November 2006. [On 20 December 2007 the Premier's Office has advised that Ms Moore's letter has been referred to Minister Sartor for reply].

27 November 2006

The Hon Morris lemma MP


Level 40, Governor Macquarie Tower 1 Farrer Place

Sydney NSW 2000

Dear Premier


I write on behalf of concerned residents and the Friends of Eveleigh group who have again contacted me about the future of the 3801 steam locomotive and the Large Erecting Shop on Locomotive Street, Eveleigh. I share their concern that the recent removal of the 3801 is to make way for the redevelopment of the Large Erecting Shop for non-rail related uses.

I support residents' view that the 3801 steam locomotive should be maintained in the former major workshop complex where steam trains were made and serviced for over a century.

Friends of Eveleigh inform me that much of the original machinery used for railway purposes has been maintained in the Large Erecting Shop, making the entire contents of the workshop important. They say that it is the only workshop of its kind that remains in its original internal and external condition and which is still in use for its original purpose. Housing and servicing the 3801 steam locomotive is critical to the heritage of the site.

In a submission to the previous Premier Bob Carr, I called for a State rail museum, which would recognise the site's importance to rail transport in opening up and connecting the State, and demonstrate the industrial processes carried out there where employees worked under tough and dangerous conditions. Such a museum would reinforce the cultural and emotional connection many New South Wales residents have with the steam era and the Eveleigh complex.

Surrendering the site to non-rail related development is a lost opportunity for Sydney and the State, and diminishes our important industrial and cultural heritage. Since plans to link Eveleigh with the Powerhouse Museum, which included running steam trains between the two institutions, was abolished, Government policy has instead focused only on redevelopment of the site.

The situation is now worsened by divided responsibilities between multiple Ministerial portfolios, and people complain that their representations have been passed back and forth between the Redfern-Waterloo Authority, the Department of Planning and RailCorp, with no one body claiming overall responsibility, let alone long term planning.

While the Large Erecting Shop is listed on the heritage schedule of the Redfern-Waterloo State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), this only recognises the building's structural value. The SEPP rezones the Large Erecting Shop for commercial use with a height of 12 storeys permissible.

The building's value as cultural and industrial heritage and its integral part of the interpretation of the remaining complex have been ignored. With the recent removal of the 3801 steam locomotive from the site, many residents believe that the Large Erecting Shop is being positioned for redevelopment for non-rail related use.

Given the removal of the 3801 Steam Locomotive and the uncertainty over the development of the Large Erecting Shop, I ask you to urgently review the future of the existing remaining Eveleigh complex and its possibility as a unique working museum and valuable Sydney visitor attraction.

Other State Governments have celebrated rail heritage. The Western Australia State Government has supported a "living museum" of rail heritage at the Midland Railway Workshop and the Queensland Government has initiated an interactive rail heritage museum at the Ipswich Workshops Rail Museum.

I believe such a museum on the Eveleigh Railway site would be popular and be an added and important Sydney attraction, especially if working steam trains were included.

Over 500,000 passengers have travelled on the 3801 heritage steam locomotive since it was restored, giving first hand working experience of NSW's important railway history and heritage.

The remaining Eveleigh buildings including the Large Erecting Shop are also historically, aesthetically and socially significant to New South Wales and Australia. The complex played an instrumental role in the development of the country's rail network, and is a rare example of 1880s industrial Georgian architecture. The simple, strong functional forms of the buildings are landmarks to generations of city rail commuters. The remaining tools and equipment demonstrate past processes of Australian heavy industry, and the hard work, skills and capacity of workers of the time.

It is critical that the remaining historic buildings and their contents on the Eveleigh site be protected from development and preserved from deterioration by age or neglect. It is critical that historic associated rolling stock including Locomotive 3801 be retained as an integral part of the historic precinct. It is important that the heritage site be planned and managed by one agency dedicated to its preservation and future.

Could you please urgently coordinate action between NSW Government agencies to ensure that this significant heritage is protected?

Could you please inform me about the Government's short term and long term plans for the 3801 Locomotive, the entire contents of the Eveleigh Large Erecting Shop, and for the Eveleigh Large Erecting Shop?

Yours sincerely


Clover Moore

Member for Bligh

Cc:       Minister for Transport

            Minister for Redfern Waterloo

            Minister for Planning