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Mount Morgan Railway Station Complex

  • 600752
  • Mount Morgan - Wowan Line, Mount Morgan

General

Classification
State Heritage
Register status
Entered
Date entered
21 October 1992
Type
Transport—rail: Railway station
Themes
2.2 Exploiting, utilising and transforming the land: Exploiting natural resources
5.3 Moving goods, people and information: Using rail
5.8 Moving goods, people and information: Postal services
Construction period
1898–1921, Mount Morgan Railway Station Complex (1898 - 1921)
Historical period
1870s–1890s Late 19th century
Style
Classicism

Location

Address
Mount Morgan - Wowan Line, Mount Morgan
LGA
Rockhampton Regional Council
Coordinates
-23.63858316, 150.38673363

Map

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Significance

Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

Mount Morgan Railway Station Complex (established 1898) is important in demonstrating the evolution of Queensland’s railway network and the growth of Mount Morgan as a major mining town.

Built as the then terminus of a branch line under the Queensland Government’s ‘railway guarantee’ scheme, the substantial and imposing complex reflects the wealth and optimism of a thriving mining town, and was a key site for the movement of goods and people from the late 19th to the mid 20th century.

Criterion BThe place demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of Queensland’s cultural heritage.

Substantially intact, the water tank and curved platform and carriage shade are rare surviving examples of their types.

The goods shed with warehouse crane is a rare surviving combination of these elements, demonstrating operational aspects of the railway complex.

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

The place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a late 19th century regional railway complex. Substantially intact, the Mount Morgan complex retains a comprehensive assemblage of elements that facilitated the transport of passengers and goods, including: station building, with platform and carriage shade, and forecourt concourse; former refreshment rooms; shunter’s/guard’s room; goods shed with warehouse crane; water tank; oil store; trolley shed; bath house; and rail yards with remnant tracks and associated operational elements.

The timber station building, with its central portico and entrance vestibule flanked by ladies’ waiting room, booking office, parcels office and station master’s office, demonstrates station design principles of the era. It is the earliest example of a group of elaborate country stations designed by Railways Department architect, Henrik Hansen and retains its curved platform and carriage shade, a noted feature of Hansen’s designs.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

Mount Morgan Railway Station Complex is of aesthetic significance for its beautiful architectural qualities and contribution to the townscape.

The station complex’s setting is enhanced by the open forecourt concourse and avenue of mature fig trees.

The station building is of considerable architectural merit and its form and fabric illustrate a skilled design approach. The elaborate front façade, with central portico and decorative elements of finely-crafted timber work, and substantial curved platform and carriage shade, express the importance of Mount Morgan and of the railway in the town at the turn of the century.

History

The Mount Morgan Railway Station opened in 1898, as the then terminus of a branch line that connected the important mining town of Mount Morgan with the port of Rockhampton, via Kabra on the Central Railway. Located on Railway Parade, Mount Morgan, the 3.1ha complex retains its: timber station building with platform and carriage shade, designed by architect Henrik Hansen; forecourt concourse with avenue of mature fig trees; railway tracks and yards; and various ancillary structures constructed between 1898 and the 1950s. Although no longer operational, the Mount Morgan Railway Station makes an important contribution to the townscape and is important in demonstrating late 19th and early 20th century social and economic transport arrangements.

Mount Morgan mine [QHR 600751] was the State’s most productive gold and copper mine. Established in 1882, it achieved its highest per annum gold production between 1887 and 1897, reaching its peak annual yield in 1889 at just over 323,542 oz. (9,127 kg). In 1906, the mine’s emphasis shifted to copper and for about twenty years, it was also the State’s leading copper producer. Over the 100 years of its operation, Mount Morgan produced about 250 tonnes of gold and 360,000 tonnes of copper, making it one of the richest single gold mines in the world.[1]

The town of Mount Morgan grew rapidly after the mine was established. Town subdivisions were surveyed in 1884, and between 1886 and 1891 most of its services were established; the majority being located to the south of the Dee River, which bisected the town.[2] The Borough of Mount Morgan was gazetted in 1890 and the population of the municipal area reached 3514 by 1891, 6280 by 1901, and 9772 by 1911.[3] Development throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries resulted in many fine buildings; however, despite the wealth of the mine, the built environment of Mount Morgan was generally modest in comparison with the mining towns of Charters Towers and Gympie.[4]   

As the town grew, passenger and freight traffic on the road to Mount Morgan increased. The construction of railways in Queensland had been severely curtailed by the economic depression of the early 1890s and the government was initially reluctant to invest in a railway connection to what was considered a ‘one-industry’ town.[5] However, a branch line to Mount Morgan was eventually constructed under the ‘guarantee scheme’, with the Mount Morgan Municipal Council as nominal guarantors – backed by the Mount Morgan Gold-mining Company.[6] The government introduced the guarantee scheme under the Railways Guarantee Act to stimulate the construction of rail infrastructure, which was of vital importance for the wider economy, by encouraging local interests to request the construction of a railway in their area, on the understanding that they would meet half of any losses incurred in the operation of the line.[7]

Planning the location of the railway station involved some contention between the various parties. The town council preferred the terminus be sited on the southern side of the Dee River, near the School of Arts on Morgan Street; while the Railways Department proposed a site to the north, reportedly to avoid the construction of a rail bridge crossing. The site on the northern side of the river was chosen, with a road bridge to be built across the Dee, and by the time the mining company became involved – offering some of its own land as an alternative site – it was too late to change.[8] 

The line linking Mount Morgan with Rockhampton, via Kabra on the Central Railway, was opened to Mount Morgan on Friday 25 November 1898, with a ceremony officiated by the Hon. J Murray, Minister for Railways.[9] The railway was opened for general traffic, both goods and passengers, the following Monday.[10] From the outset a service of three trains daily during the week was provided, with two trains on Sundays enabling residents to access the beach at Emu Park.[11] The section from the bottom of the Razorback Range at Moonmera to Moongan at the top was very steep and required an additional rack rail known as the ‘Abt’ system and specially built rack locomotives, which were maintained at the Rockhampton railway workshops.[12]

An appropriate station building for an important provincial town was designed by Henrik Hansen who was responsible for similar stations at Cunnamulla, Winton, Archer Park [QHR 600777] and Emerald [QHR 600490] in the same period.[13] Hansen was a Danish architect employed by the Railways Department from the late 1870s until 1904. He designed numerous utilitarian structures and railway stations, of which his five country stations were the most elaborate – each prominently sited pieces of public architecture that announced the railway’s presence in important towns.[14] The first stage of the Mount Morgan station building was designed and constructed in 1898.[15] Following established planning principles at the time, although more ornate in form and appearance than standard station buildings, the timber station building had a finely detailed central portico that led to an open entrance vestibule, flanked by a ladies’ waiting room and toilets (south), and booking office and parcels office (north). The station faced an open concourse (east) and had verandahs accessed by low steps on three sides; a tar-paved platform with a large steel-framed, 10-bay carriage shade was attached to the rear (west).[16] The all-over arch roof of the carriage shade, designed to provide cover to passengers and goods being loaded at the platform, also featured in Hansen’s stations at Cunnamulla, Winton and Archer Park.

The goods shed had also been built in time for the 1898 opening, gaily decorated to house a luncheon held on the occasion.[17] The mature Moreton Bay fig trees along the eastern side of the concourse were reportedly planted on 1 January 1901, to commemorate the Federation of Australian States; a century later they were re-dedicated as part of the Mount Morgan Shire’s Fig Tree Festival celebrating 100 years of Federation.[18]

The locomotive water supply at Mount Morgan failed in 1901. The following year when water supplies failed completely, the mine and town were kept going by trains hauling water from Stanwell. Twelve trains per day unloaded into the bed of the Dee River from the nearby railway bridge (since made into a road bridge). The line was extended to Wowan on 16 October 1912. In 1917-18 the station yard was enlarged, a fork line installed to replace the turntable and the engine shed moved to a new site to allow more room. A photograph from 1918 shows the water tank, goods sheds and other ancillary structures in place at that time.[19] The builder's plate on the water tank connects it with the noted engineering firm of Walkers Limited of Maryborough. In 1919-20 an elevated coal stage was erected.

The existing parcels office was extended with the addition of a station master’s office at the north end of the station building in 1912. The extension featured an entrance portico similar in design to the existing one, but smaller, and with slightly different detailing and verandahs which were later enclosed.[20]  Refreshment rooms followed in 1921, erected by the railway authority and initially opened or taken over as part of the State enterprises policy.[21] By the following year, requests to enlarge the rooms were being considered, with an estimated doubling in size required to meet the demand from passenger traffic on the line.[22] The rooms were eventually closed and re-sited as barrack quarters in 1968.

By 1940 the complex consisted of station building with carriage shade, refreshment rooms, dock road, 20,000 gallon tank, engine shed, oil store, examiners shed, 40 ton double rail weighbridge, goods shed, office and 10 ton crane with warehouse crane, station master’s house, fireman’s house, quarters, fork line, small coal stage and trucking yards. In April 1952, the Razorback Range deviation was opened, allowing the haulage of Callide coal through Mount Morgan with conventional steam locomotives. The rack line was abandoned. In 1955 a separate room for shunters was provided and the guard’s room moved. In 1959, the 10 ton crane (spare) was moved to Innisfail. A 75 ton double rail weighbridge was provided in 1964. A signal cabin was later relocated to the site from Glenmore Junction (North Coast Railway, junction for the Yeppoon and Emu Park closed lines).[23]

During the 1960s coal-fired steam engines were gradually replaced by diesel-electric locomotives which were maintained at the Rockhampton railway workshops. Previously the steam engines had been repaired and maintained at the Mount Morgan locomotive depot. The first diesel-electric locomotive to work through Mount Morgan was on 26 May 1964. Steam train operations through Mount Morgan ceased in October 1967. In 1971 the coal stage was dismantled. With activities at Mount Morgan mine declining to a point where there was little traffic, the retention of the Mount Morgan railway depot became uneconomical and in May 1984 the facility was downgraded to two employees. From 1 August 1987, after traffic to the mine ceased, the railway from Kabra through Mount Morgan to Wowan closed. The station and ancillary buildings, railway yard and a short section of track were retained. A number of surviving elements are relatively rare examples of their type including: the goods shed, comparable with those at Warwick [QHR 600955] and Wyandra which also retain warehouse cranes; Hansen-designed curved platform and carriage shade, comparable only with one at Archer Park; and the Walkers Limited water tank, comparable only with one at Quilpie.[24]

Mount Morgan Shire Council was given tenancy of the complex in 1988 and owned the site from 1990.[25] In 2017 the complex is operated as the Mount Morgan Railway Museum and Tourist Information Centre by Mount Morgan Promotion and Development under contract to the Rockhampton Regional Council, the current site owner.

Description

The Mount Morgan Railway Station complex occupies a 3.1ha site situated between the Mount Morgan Mine site (west) and the town of Mount Morgan (south, east and west). The elongated site aligns north-south and is bisected by Railway Parade; it is bounded by the Dee River to the south and west, Glen Gordon Street to the north, and residential properties facing James Street to the east. Significant elements include: a station building, with platform and carriage shade, facing a forecourt concourse along Railway Parade; an adjacent shunter’s guard room, water tank and oil store; a goods shed and bath house, to the north; and former refreshment rooms and a trolley shed, to the south. Remnant train tracks run the length of the rail yards, to the west of the station, and a row of four mature fig trees align along the eastern side of Railway Parade. With its decorative façade, the station building makes an important visual contribution to the townscape and is a landmark for the area; set against the industrial landscape of the mine to the west.

Station Building with Platform and Carriage Shade

The station building is a long, narrow, single-storey timber structure designed in a Classical Revival Boom Style, with elaborate roadside (east) elevational treatment and 10 bay carriage shade to the rear (west). The roadside elevation has a central arcaded portico carried on grouped stop-chamfered timber posts with decorative capitals, surmounting fretwork arches and timber parapet having a curved pediment and 'AD 1898 Mount Morgan' on the entablature. Flanking parapets and verandahs strengthen the building’s symmetry which is offset by the 1912 additions at the northern end, having their own portico in the manner of an end pavilion with pedimented treatment enhancing the overall composition. There are minor later additions (south) and verandah enclosures (north), and the parapet urns and decorative metal roof vents are modern replacements.

The exterior walls are clad in chamferboards and the evenly-spaced windows along the east and west elevations are double-hung sashes. The main entrance has paired panelled doors with a glazed, arched fanlight. The station layout comprises: a central vestibule, which accesses the platform to the rear of the building through an opening with arched fretwork brackets and a picketed fence and gate; a ladies’ room and toilets, to the south of the vestibule; and a booking office, parcels office, and station master’s office, to the north. Early joinery including a bench and drawers remains in the booking office in 2017. Doors are generally panelled, with glazed fanlights. Interior walls and ceilings are lined with early beaded boards and later V-jointed (VJ) tongue-and-groove (T&G) boards, and floors are timber. An opening has been formed between the station master’s office and the adjacent enclosed verandah. Modern interior additions and alterations are flat-sheeted, with vinyl floor coverings.

The carriage shade protects the platform and two tracks, and has standard curved Warren girder trusses supported on timber posts and corrugated metal cladding. A clerestory with a curved roof extends along the length of the ridge. The railway platform has a concrete upstand and a floor of large concrete pavers. It extends to the north and south of the platform shade.

Shunter’s/Guard’s Room

The shunter’s / guard’s room is a timber-framed and weatherboard-clad structure with a gable roof. Rectangular in plan, it is orientated north-south and located to the immediate north of the station building. The gable end windows are double-hung sashes, with other windows louvred; all have modern external screens. Two boarded doors access the platform, with a centred joint with a timber bead indicating a point of extension. A skillion-roofed addition extends to the east.

Water Tank

The 20,000 gallon water tank is situated to the northeast of the station, between two tracks. The two-tier cast iron tank is square in plan, and bears the manufacturer’s mark ‘WALKERS LIMITED ENGINNERS MARYBOROUGH’ on each side. It has two jibs and is supported on riveted and bellied iron beams, and sits on a timber stand comprising round posts and square beams. A storage shed with parallel gables and clad in corrugated metal, is located underneath.   

Oil Store

The oil store is a timber-framed and chamferboard-clad structure with a hipped roof, located to the south of the water tank. Square in plan, it sits on a concrete slab and has north-facing, narrow-boarded double doors.

Goods Shed

The goods shed is a timber-framed and corrugated metal-clad structure with a gable roof. Rectangular in plan, it is aligned north-south and has an internal timber platform and siding running along the western side; accessed via large gated doorways at either end. The roadside (east) elevation has wide eaves supported on timber brackets, and features four large boarded goods doors – the central two, along with a standard doorway to the south, being set approximately half a metre off the ground. A decorative metal rainwater head is retained at the southwest corner. Inside there is a warehouse crane, with the stencilled mark ‘I. TON’, at the northern end of the platform.

A timber-framed and chamferboard-clad office, set on timber stumps, is attached to the southern end of the goods shed. It has a gable roof, and a centred joint with a timber bead indicates a point of extension. Windows on the east and south sides are enclosed with corrugated metal and have timber-framed skillion hoods. A boarded doorway is located in the southeast corner.    

Bath House

The bath house is a corrugated metal-clad, skillion-roofed structure with a skillion awning to the north. It is situated to the west of the goods shed, and previously contained showers and toilets for workshop and shunting staff.

Former Refreshment Rooms

The former refreshment rooms building, relocated for use as barracks, is a timber-framed and weatherboard-clad structure set on modern concrete stumps. It is rectangular in plan, with a gable roof, and has a kitchen wing projecting to the rear (southwest). The roadside (northeast) elevation has three double-hung sash windows, with timber-framed and battened skillion hoods. A boarded door, accessed via timber steps, and a louvred window, are located on the southeast elevation; these along with a louvred window opposite have decorative metal hoods. The kitchen wing has a corrugated metal-clad stove recess to the rear and an adjacent boarded door, accessed via timber steps.

A timber outhouse is located to the immediate south. It is clad in chamferboards and has a curved corrugated metal roof. 

Trolley Shed

The trolley shed is rectangular in plan, orientated north-south, and located to the south of the refreshment rooms. It has a skillion roof and is clad in corrugated metal on three sides; the western side is clad in timber battens and has four large, battened sliding doors.

Landscape Elements

The railway station grounds are well established, with buildings and other elements that had a public function (station building, goods shed and refreshment rooms) lining Railway Parade to the east, and the operational railway yards to the west. A modern fence reinforces the distinction between to two areas.

The station building fronts an open forecourt concourse area along Railway Parade, with a landscaped garden area opposite. The sealed concourse has been built up to almost level with the station building verandahs, which were historically accessed by low steps. A row of four mature fig trees (spp. Ficus), with landscaped surrounds, is situated on the eastern side of Railway Parade, between the station building and the goods shed.

The railway yards retain sections of track as well as associated signalling and other operational features. A cast metal water crane is situated between tracks to the south of the station carriage shade.   

Other Structures

Other buildings, structures, pathways, and sheds, and modern partitions, suspended ceilings and joinery, within the heritage boundary are not of cultural heritage significance.

A range of movable items including rolling stock, luggage and furniture are on display in the station buildings and across the complex as part of its current use as the Mount Morgan Railway Museum. These objects contribute to the interpretation of the place as a working institution; however, only those known to have provenance directly associated with the Mount Morgan Railway Station are considered to be part of the heritage significance of the place.

References

[1] Allom Lovell Marquis-Kyle, H-MTMOR/002, ‘Mt Morgan Mine: an appraisal of significance’, 1994, p18.
[2] Meridith Walker, H-MTMOR/015, ‘Mount Morgan: a study of the town character and ways and means of conserving and enhancing it’, 1979, p2; Allom Lovell Architects Brisbane, ‘Mt Morgan Railway Precinct, A conservation management plan for the Mount Morgan Shire Council’, 2001, p11.
[3] ‘Mount Morgan Municipality’, The Telegraph, 29 May 1890, p3; http://queenslandplaces.com.au/mount-morgan, accessed 14 March 2017.
[4] Allom Lovell Architects Brisbane, 2001, p20.
[5] Allom Lovell Architects Brisbane, 2001, p7.
[6] ‘The Mount Morgan Line’, Capricornian, 29 October 1898, p18.
[7] John Kerr, Triumph of narrow gauge: a history of railways in Queensland, Brisbane: Boolarong Publications, 1990, p93; in Allom Lovell Architects Brisbane, 2001, p8.
[8] John Kerr, Mount Morgan: gold, copper and oil, St Lucia: JD and RS Kerr, 1982, p101; in Allom Lovell Architects Brisbane, 2001, p12.
[9] ‘The Mount Morgan Railway, Official Opening’, Capricornian, 3 December 1898, p10.
[10] ‘The Mount Morgan Railway’, Morning Bulletin, 3 December 1898, p5.
[11] Allom Lovell Architects Brisbane, 2001, p10.
[12] ‘The Mount Morgan Railway’, Morning Bulletin, 3 December 1898, p5; Allom Lovell Architects Brisbane, 2001, p10.
[13] Only the former Archer Park and Emerald stations are extant in 2017. The Mount Morgan design is similar to Longreach station, built later in 1916, which was also designed by Railways Department architects but had a cantilevered platform shade; Andrew Ward and Peter Milner, Stage 2, Volume 6, 1997, p73, in Allom Lovell Architects Brisbane, 2001, p18.
[14] Allom Lovell Architects Brisbane, 2001, p17.
[15] Allom Lovell Architects Brisbane, 2001, p17.
[16] ‘Original plan and elevations of the Mount Morgan Railway Station’, 1898; in Allom Lovell Architects Brisbane, 2001, p11; ‘Railway Station at Mount Morgan’, c1903, Image 33827, State Library of Queensland.
[17] ‘The Mount Morgan Railway, Official Opening’, Capricornian, 3 December 1898, p10.
[18] ‘The Railway Precinct’, on-site interpretive signage by Mount Morgan Promotion and Development, 2017. A row of substantial trees are visible in this location in a 1953 aerial photograph, QAP391-36, DNRM.
[19] ‘Mount Morgan Railway Station with the town of Mount Morgan in the background’, 1918, Image 164702, State Library of Queensland.
[20] Allom Lovell Architects Brisbane, 2001, p13.
[21] ‘Railway Refreshment Rooms’, Morning Bulletin, 12 February 1921, p8. The original location of the refreshment rooms on the site is unknown.
[22] ‘Mount Morgan Railway Refreshment Rooms’, Morning Bulletin, 23 August 1922, p8. It is unknown if these extensions proceeded.
[23] Andrew Ward and Peter Milner, Stage 2, Volume 6, 1997, p86; The date of relocation is unknown, however, the Emu Park line closed in 1964 and the Yeppoon line beyond Lakes Creek closed in 2004; ‘Emu Park / Yeppoon Railway’, Archer Park Rail Museum, http://qldrailheritage.com/archerpark/notes/05-emupark.pdf, accessed 21 March 2017.
[24] Andrew Ward and Peter Milner, Stage 2, Volume 3, 1997, p115-116; and Stage 2, Volume 6, 1997, p86.
[25] Title Reference 30589132, issued 30 May 1989, registered 1 May 1990; Title References 30605017 and 30605017, created 12 November 1990.

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Location

Location of Mount Morgan Railway Station Complex within Queensland
Licence
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 January 2016
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