Saturday, 12 January 2013

Old Buildings: Capertee Railway Station

This historic railway station was built in 1882. It is a typical type 4 ‘standard roadside station’, a design introduced from the late 1870s by the New South Wales Government Railway (NSWGR), Engineer-in-Chief, John Whitton (1820-98). 

Sign on station platform
The design drawings for Capertee station were signed by Whitton on 17th February 1882. The plans were exhibited in Sydney from 28th February to 14th March 1882.  John Briton and William Cameron won the tender to build the railway station, the nearby goods warehouse (since demolished), and the still extant Station Master’s House.

This station was the terminus for stage one of the Wallerawang to Gwabegar branch line. Stage one opened in May 1882, with a 23 mile section of track from Wallerawang (on the main western line) to Capertee Camp (as Capertee was then known). The 330 feet long railway station platform at Capertee Camp (and stage one of the railway) was opened on 15th May 1882. The line was opened prior to completion of construction of the railway station building. Capertee Camp was renamed Capertee one month after the line opened. The Capertee railway station building was completed on 26th June 1882.

The local community outside Capertee Railway Station
welcomes a wounded soldier returning from World War 1
From Station Street (the eastern access road) the central building consists of three principal rooms. From left to right the rooms were used as a ladies waiting room, general waiting room and the ticket office/station master’s office. The design of this station included two ancillary buildings on each end of the main building. The small building on the left was a toilet block while the small building on the right was used as a lamp room. The lamp room was later used as a crib room (staff room} for track engineering staff.

The steady improvement of the road system saw a steady decline in passenger numbers using the branch railway line which led to its closure in 1987 (the siding tracks had been removed in 1984). With the formal closure of the station there was a proposal in the 1990s to demolish the building, but a campaign led by local residents saved the century-old structure. In the late 1990s a job creation scheme restored the building to an acceptable state of repair and the building was leased for several years to the Capertee Social Club as a venue for village events. A low picket fence along the platform protects visitors from falling on the railway line which is now only used for goods traffic. Recently the station was painted in a ‘heritage’ colour scheme. The windows are currently bordered up and the property is now available for lease.

It should be noted that this station is not listed on the NSW State Heritage Register or the Lithgow Council Local Environment Plan.

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