North Sydney

A single-track line between Hornsby and St Leonards had opened in January 1890, followed by a double-track southward extension to the North Shore at Milson's Point in April 1893. This became known as the "North Shore Line" and, for the best part of four decades, ferries filled the breach over Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour), conveying passengers and goods from the railway to the South Shore. There had been an abortive proposal during 1915 for a bridge across the water; this started to become a reality when, in December 1920, the Government authorised such a scheme at an estimated cost of 5,000,000. Building of what became Sydney Harbour Bridge formally commenced on 28th July 1923, which heralded significant changes for the railway network on both sides of the water.

In conjunction with the Harbour Bridge scheme, the North Shore Line was to be extended over the water to link directly with Central Station, via the new underground sites of Wynyard and Town Hall in the Central Business District. This required a deviation from the original route immediately south of Bay Road station (Waverton), which at this stage descended through the hillside to terminate at Lavender Bay, on the northern edge of Port Jackson. Instead, a new "high-level" course was to be assumed, taking the line up to the approaches of the Harbour Bridge, thence crossing the water to reach the south. Two stations were to be provided on the new section of line between Bay Road and the Harbour Bridge: Milson's Point and North Sydney. The former was, in effect, a direct replacement for the existing terminus on the edge of Lavender Bay, whilst the latter was a completely new addition. Four tracking was proposed between Bay Road and Chatswood, to accommodate the increased rail traffic the Harbour Bridge extension was expected to bring, this of which would be preceded by electrification of the whole stretch from Hornsby to Milson's Point (terminus).

The first sod was ceremonially turned at the site of the proposed North Sydney station on 28th July 1923, by the then Minister for Works, R. T. Bull. Construction involved creating a wide track bed within a chalk cutting, capable of accommodating four tracks and the platforms to serve them. At the western end of the site, four tunnel bores of 462-yards length were made through the hillside to join the new alignment to the existing route immediately south of Waverton station.

On Thursday 26th March 1925, the first steam locomotive passed through one of the completed tunnel bores, which took the course of the then new line under Grammar School Hill (ref: Sydney Morning Herald, 27th March 1925). Then, in July 1931, a public footbridge of concrete construction was opened across the station's south eastern approaches. The footbridge linked two ends of Walker Street, which had been cut in half as a result of the railway's construction. Indeed, it was around the station's south eastern throat that the goods yard was established.

Sydney Harbour Bridge's celebrated opening was on 19th March 1932, which also marked the commissioning of new stations at North Sydney and Milson's Point, and the through route to Central. The line was electrified from the outset, the previous stretch from Hornsby to the terminus at the original Milson's Point having been so treated in 1927. North Sydney station was a large affair, situated ½-mile from Waverton. Two island platforms were provided to serve the quadruple track. Although the station was a more recent construction compared to its fellow counterparts (bar the new Milson's Point), it adopted the common practice of having a ''high-level'' booking office over the tracks, necessitated by the platforms' location in a cutting. This structure was single-storey and of red brick construction, straddling the platforms midway down, being supported by a series of columns upon the former and in-between the tracks. It comprised wrought-iron balustrading surrounding open entrances and exits, and was linked to the below island platforms by enclosed staircases. Extending beyond the western and eastern ends of the "high-level" building were traditional railway canopies of triangular cross-section with timber valances, providing additional cover for the platforms.

In July 1960, a 2,500,000 redevelopment of North Sydney station was announced (ref: The Cumberland Argus, 13th July 1960), which included building a series of structures across the platforms and tracks as part of an "air rights" scheme. This tied in with a general redevelopment of the North Shore planned at that time, which aimed to produce a series of new high rise buildings, both for business and residential use. Finally, in 1968, work started on the building of a fourteen-storey ''Travelodge Hotel'' across the lines at North Sydney. The NSW Government Railways had entered into an agreement with the "Mainline Construction Company" to undertake the work, which included high-rise office buildings and a parking garage. The Travelodge Hotel was reported as nearing completion in 1973 (ref: World Survey on Current Research and Development of Roads and Road Transport, International Road Federation, 1973). This led to the abolition of the "high-level" red brick station building of 1932 and, as a result of the "air rights" scheme, North Sydney station began to adopt an "underground" atmosphere.

17th March 2015


North Sydney: 17th March 2015

The ''underground'' feel of the station is exemplified in this eastward view on platform Nos. 1 and 2. The platforms are equipped with television screens, in common with the city's other stations, which show details of the next three departures. David Glasspool

17th March 2015


North Sydney: 17th March 2015

A westward view from platform 2 shows platform Nos. 3 and 4 beyond the concrete supporting columns. Both sets of platforms are reached by escalators and lifts leading down from the main ''high-level'' concourse. Notice in the background that there is still an area where natural light can creep in. David Glasspool

17th March 2015


North Sydney: 17th March 2015

Looking east, a facing crossover between platform lines 2 and 3 is evident. The four tracks emanating from the station narrow to double-track prior to the line reaching Milsons Point, and it was around this area that the goods yard was formerly situated. David Glasspool


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