Time For A Change – Central Station

New Railway Station Sydney NSW From Elizabeth Street (Central) Front copy

The postcard above is a beautiful snapshot, showing Sydneys grand Central Station, the station which was built to replace the dingy and congested Redfern Terminus. The postcard probably dates to very soon after the new railway station first opened in 1906 as the grand tower is not yet built and of course, the postcard lauds the ‘New Railway Station’.

By 1900 Redfern Terminus was disliked by passengers and crew alike, sparking increasing agitation for a new and improved station, closer to the city itself. Yet as far back as 1888 there had been interest in moving the station to a more central location. This is when Railway Commissioner Eddy made inquiries about moving the terminus, resulting in a Royal Commission. In 1891 the Commission recommended two new stations, one at the Benevolent Asylum site and one in Hyde Park, but the depression of the 1890s meant that no action was taken. Another request to move the station was made in 1896, and another Royal Commission was launched, recommending that a single larger station be built in Hyde Park, facing St James Road. The public, though wanting a more convenient station, objected strenuously to the loss of public parkland, and the scheme was abandoned in 1899. It was clear though that a new station was needed and in 1900 State Parliament agreed to the plan of E. W. O’Sullivan (the Minister for Public Works) to build the new station north of Devonshire Street, close to the existing terminus. The public would have its new station, but not their City railway extension.

Plans for the new station were signed off on November 2, 1901, but construction would not be able to commence until the existing buildings and even a cemetery had been removed. The original depot of the steam tramway, a convent, police barracks and the Benevolent Asylum were all demolished while the graves in the Devonshire Street Cemetery were relocated. On April 30, 1902 Minister O’Sullivan laid the foundation stone and construction commenced. The station opened on Saturday, August 4, 1906.

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