Log in

Forgot your password?
You are here: Home / UrbanGrowth, SMDA & RWA Plans & Activities / Built Environment Plan Phase 1 - The State Significant Sites / South Eveleigh Precinct / The Large Erecting Workshop / Australian Heritage Database Place Details - The Large Erecting Shop - Eveleigh, Locomotive St, Eveleigh, NSW

Australian Heritage Database Place Details - The Large Erecting Shop - Eveleigh, Locomotive St, Eveleigh, NSW

These are the details of the Nomination of The Large Erecting Shop on the Australian Heritage Database.

Photographs:   None

List:                  National Heritage List

Class:               Historic

Legal Status:   Nominated place

Place ID:          105945

Place File No: 1/12/033/0016

Nominator's Summary Statement of Significance:

Of the many buildings on the greater Eveleigh Railway Workshop site this is the only remaining purpose built shed still performing its original use, demonstrating a high level of intactness. The significance of the site is recognised at a local, state and national level as well as by international heritage bodies for its building fabric and construction, machinery, skills and it's operations.

This place is the oldest and longest continuous operating railway workshops in Australia. The place is still functioning as workshops servicing steam railway locomotives, rolling stock and diesels. It is part of the greater Eveleigh Workshop site but unlike all the other buildings it still retains its rail workshop context and skills. Eveleigh's original design and placement near Sydney formed part of its economic viability allowing easy access to the main rail hub (Sydney Station) and to the rest of the state. This close access to Sydney is still vital today in the economic viability of preserving and running of heritage trains. The impact of the work carried out at the Large Erecting Shop is enjoyed locally, regionally and nationally by the operation of the only steam locomotive to haul trains to every mainland state in Australia.

The Eveleigh Railway Workshops are some of the finest historic railway engineering workshops in the world and Eveleigh contains one of the most complete late 19th century and early 20th century forge installations, collection of cranes and power systems, in particular the hydraulic system. The place is of international significance and is one of Australia's finest industrial heritage items. The value of the place is increased by the fact that it is comprised of assemblages, collections and operational systems rather than individual items still in use.

Conversely, the significance will be reduced by its closure or adaptive reuse, relocation of rolling stock, machinery and its disassociation from the operating rail network. Not only will the Large Erecting Workshop cultural significance be reduced but the significance of the greater Eveleigh Railway Workshops will be reduced.

The workshop is significant nationally for being:

In continuous operation as a rail servicing workshop 126 years still in its original format

Designed by Whitton (trained by John Fowler of the Forth over the Firth Bridge fame) and George Cowdery (trained by Isambard Kingdom Brunel) bringing cutting edge industrial revolution technology to Australia

The building and others making up the Eveleigh group are iconic in design and proportion.

The political birth place of 1 Governor General of Australia, 3 Prime Ministers and 25 parliamentarians and the inaugural Secretary of the Nurses Association.

The home of steam locomotive operations in NSW including the iconic 38 Class locomotives with carriages (presently includes 3801 and 3830)

Governor-General Lord Hopetoun's carriage built and stored on site

A centre of skills and expertise in maintenance/operation of heritage trains directly passed on from retired employees.

One of group of large industrial buildings that form an extended corridor on the main rail access into Sydney.

The place where the Great National Strike commenced in 1917.

A significant place Aboriginal people of Redfern as one of the few place that offered employment, training and employment transfers from regional NSW to the city.

Collection of original machinery including overhead cranes and machinery from all phases of its history up until 2006.

Official Values: Not Available


The Large Erecting Shop is the last of the big rail workshops in Australia still in use, presently housing 3801 Ltd the only steam locomotive that has travelled to every mainland state in Australia. The brick shed has 6 rail bays internally and one external to the south. With a fan of access tracks to the south and direct access to a turntable.

The workshop is a large classic Victorian era industrial red brick building with arched cast iron framed windows on the north and south walls of the building and large arched timber framed doors for each rail access bay. The roof is formed by two brick end gables with sandstone parapets with a large iron truss system supported on cast iron columns down the centre of the building. Four large overhead cranes run within the roof space The floor is concrete with servicing pits between each track.

The turntable is 75 foot long and is connected to the workshop

Collection: The building contains operating steam Locomotives 3801.3830, Governor-Generals Carriage from 1901 as well as many other carriages and pieces of rolling stock required to operate trains. Machinery and tools (un-catalogued) to service the fleet held at the Large Erecting Shop.


While every state in Australia had large steam servicing workshops these are possibly the most important and the last still functioning from first construction in 1880's. The chronology covers both the yards and the workshop but concentrates on the Locomotive Workshop.

1871    Planning for a large modem workshops complex at Redfern began.

1875    The site at Eveleigh was selected.

1880    Settlement for land was reached - 64.5 acres resumed from the estate of the late John Chisolm for c: £100,000.

1882    Clearing of land commenced. Because of the sandy nature of the soil, much work went into the design and construction of the workshop foundations.

1884    The contract for the construction of Bays 1-4 was let to George Fishburn for a cost of £40,725 and work was commenced shortly after.

1885    Work underway and purchase of machinery commenced.    The foundations for Bays 5-15 were completed, enabling the contract for the construction of these bays to be let to John Ahern at a price of £80,837.

1886    Construction of the workshops continued.

1887    Workshops 1-4 were officially opened. These contained the 'dirty trades' of foundry work, boilermaking and blacksmithing. They were originally separated from Bays 5-15 by a space equivalent in width to one of the bays. Annexes were built on the southern and western sides.

1887    (late) Workshops 5-15 were completed and opened.

1892    Union negotiations led to the workshops being closed on Saturdays.

1896    Lightening rods fitted to 120 foot high chimney for Boiler House behind Bay 2/3. An extension of 200 feet added to the western end of the Large Erecting Shed (west of the Loco Shop) completed 1896.

1899    Large Erecting Shop added to the site, to the west of the Loco Shop, enabling many of the engine repair functions to be removed from the main building. Work commenced on converting Bays 12 and 13 for an Interlocking Shop. This work began in November with the removal of the brick wall between Bays 11 and 12 and the installation of iron columns and crane girders. A compressed-air plant was installed in an annexe to Bays 3 and 4. New foundry erected adjacent to large Erecting shop allowing Boiler Shop to expand into Bay 4.

1900    Compressed air plant installed in Boiler Shop (Bays 3-4) and air mains installed.

Condition and Integrity:

The building is intact and fully operational including the large overhead cranes used by staff, and 200 volunteers.

It does need some modifications to comply with current OH&S codes, these changes will not lower its significance.


About 1ha, Locomotive Street, Eveleigh, being an area bounded by a line commencing at the western most access point to the Large Erecting Shop building, then directly to the north west corner of the Large Erecting Shop building, then easterly via the northern wall and its alignment to its intersection with a 2 metre set back from the rear wall in the east, then southerly via the 2 metre set back to its intersection with the fence located to the south of the building, then westerly via the fence line to the point of commencement. Included are all access rail roads (1 to 7) to the west of the building, contents, tracks, machinery and cranes. Also included are the turntable with associated equipment and that part of the rail line extending from the turn table to the western most access point to the Large Erecting Shop building.


A Heritage Study of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops Voll. Godden, Mackay and Associates, 1986 Conservation Policy Scwager Brooks, 1994

Relics Policy Godden,1988

South Sydney Heritage Study Tropman & Tropman, 1995

Master Plan and Urban Development Plan Eveleigh Precinct Planning Study A & A, 1994

Eveleigh Precinct Social Impact Study Lester Firth & Ass., 1992

New Locomotive Workshop CMP Government Architects Office 1995

Eveleigh Carriage Workshops CMP Government Architects Office 1995

Railways Relics & Romance The Eveleigh Railway Workshops - photographs by David Moore 1995

Colonial Engineer Building of Australia's Railways - John Whitton 1819-1898 - Robert Lee

Primary sources

"History Of Eveleigh Workshops" Correspondence From Works Managers Office, Eveleigh To Assistant Chief Mechanical Engineer, Redfern, 4.04.55, Railway Archives.

"Eveleigh Locomotive Workshops" Undated, Unsigned & Incomplete Report approx 1921, held by Railway Archives.

"Visit Of Inspection - Eveleigh Workshops, 11 October 1922" By Institution Of Engineers, Sydney Division. Information Pamphlet, Railway Archives.

"The NSW Railway Workshops At Eveleigh - A State Enterprise" in the Illustrated Sydney News, Pp 11-13, 18 July 1891.

"The Australian As Engineer - Splendid Work At Eveleigh Workshops" Hyde, Hamilton In Sea, Land And Air, Pp 176-179, 1 June 1922.

"The Locomotive Shops At Eveleigh" in the NSW Railway Budget Vol 8, Pp 239-240, 21 July 1900.

"The Carriage And Wagon Shops At Eveleigh" in the NSW Railway and Tramway Magazine, Pp 37 1917.

"Coal Goes From Eveleigh" in Eveleigh News, Magazine Of The Eveleigh Workshops Central Shop Committee, No 377, 24 July 1968.

"Foundry Operations At Locomotive Workshops, Eveleigh" Report to the State Rail Authority of NSW By D Lyons, A Fisher; August 1985.

"The Railway Stores Branch And Its Work" In The NSW Railway Budget VoI 7, Pp 186-187, 18 May 1899.

Database Entry as at 17 October 2006.

Link to Database entry : The Large Erecting Shop - Eveleigh