Track 3: For Power or For Passage: Re-envisioning Historic Industrial and Transportation Infrastructure
Community Use of Vacant Rail Buildings Program - Conserving Victoria's Historic Railway Stations and Goods Sheds - A review of an Australian state government program
Wednesday, September 26
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
During 2013 the Victorian State Government established a program to repair and convert unused railway stations and goods sheds new uses. The program was managed by VicTrack, the government ‘owner’ of rail infrastructure in the Australian state of Victoria. Quadratum Architecture has completed twelve of these projects and another three are underway at the time of writing. Quadratum is also involved with works to a number of other historic railway buildings for VicTrack.
From the 1950s to the 1990s the government owned railway network was drastically reduced to leave just the main trunk lines and some freight only branches retained for seasonal grain harvests. Hundreds of stations were closed. Many were demolished and some sold to private owners. By 2010, the surviving disused significant heritage stations were mostly in poor condition due to lack of maintenance and vandalism.
The Community Use of Vacant Rail Buildings Program allowed VicTrack to employ a community liaison manager to find sustainable community uses for disused rail buildings. Once viable uses were identified the consultant architects were briefed and a scope of work developed for each site. The focus was on adapting the buildings for new uses so they would be maintained into the future. Conservation, or preservation, of the buildings was a secondary concern. I worked hard to satisfy the new tenant groups while ensuring the changes were as sympathetic as possible, the significant fabric conserved and the buildings restored to as close to their original appearance as could be accommodated within the budgets.
The buildings covered a range of dates from 1860s to 1920s. Walls are a range of materials including brick, stone, render, timber and corrugated iron. Roofs are mostly corrugated iron, although several are slate. Internal linings included hard plaster, lath and plaster, pressed metal and tongue and groove timber boards. Wrought iron trusses support the roofs of the goods sheds.
Example projects to be discussed will be selected from:-
- Yarragon Station, 1915 timber, pressed metal linings
- Chiltern Goods Shed, 1874 brick
- Beaufort Station and Goods Shed, 1875 brick station and corrugated iron shed
- Newstead Station, 1876 brick
- Inglewood Station and Goods Shed, 1876 brick
- Gordon Station, 1879 timber
- Avoca Station, 1876 brick station
- Donald Station, 1913 brick station, terracotta tile roof
- Birchip Station, 1913 brick station
- Wycheproof Station, 1887 timber
- Dingee Station, 1922 timber, moved 1934.
The defects dealt with included brick decay, damp damage, termites, dry rot, corrosion, vandalism and fire damage. Traditional materials were used for the remediation. I will also be discussing the observed increased incidence of timber decay, mostly due to dry rot, under modern acrylic paint systems, affecting both new and old timber.
- Discuss the issues in finding sustainable new community uses for redundant historic rail buildings.
- Describe some of the historic building types built by the Victorian Railways and the materials used.
- Discuss the importance of water ingress into building fabric, including the routes, causes and secondary impacts, in the deterioration of traditional building materials.
- Explain the repeatedly observed accelerated deterioration of timber following painting with modern acrylic paint and other coating failures related to acrylic paint.