New South Wales Government Railways

by John Hinson

Sydney Station West signal cabin
Photograph 29/9/67, by Dr J W F Scrimgeour

The large Central Station at Sydney was the first location in New South Wales to be provided with power signalling - on 13th March 1910. This original box, despite being provided with a 400-lever miniature lever frame, proved unable to cope with the rapid expansion of the era and was supplemented by a new East box in 1916. The original box became Sydney Station West for a while, but was replaced by the gantry-mounted box shown here in 1924. Interestingly, the 1910 box was still standing when these photographs were taken in 1967.

Sydney Station West controlled the western side of the station, which comprised the terminal platforms and also the Darling Harbour goods branch.

Interior of Sydney Station West
Photograph 1954, by Noel Reed

This delightful colour view was taken thirteen years earlier from almost the same location. It was taken on the occasion of a visit by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The upper quadrant signal on the gantry has just been replaced to danger by the passsage of the train but the "Selby" EP route indicator slide below is still in the process of disappearing from view.

It is worth noting that in the intervening period the electro-pneumatic lower quadrant shunting signals on the left in this view were replaced by a position light signal with stencil route indicator.

To the right, the east box can be seen; the old West box was still standing when this view was taken, but it is concealed by the train. Noticed the relaxed attitude to staff on the line and the signal gantry - it was many years before the idea of hi-visibility jackets was conceived.

Interior of Sydney Station West
Photograph c1924, from the collection of Dr J W F Scrimgeour

This photograph shows the interior of the box shortly after it opened in 1924. The two frames at first glance appear to be of the GRS "pistol-grip" slide frame type, but are actually locally-built NSWGR type H frames, with the "levers" spaced at 2½" instead of the 2" of the GRS type. The combined size was 432 levers including a few spares and spaces.

Interior of Sydney Station West
Photograph 29/9/67, by Dr J W F Scrimgeour

Little had changed by this 1967 view, apart from the fact that people don't seem quite so keen to star in the photograph!

Sydney Station West closed in 1979, when a new power-operated box was provided between Sydney Central and Redfern to control the area previously worked by Station West, Station East, Wells Street and Illawarra Junction. It soon picked up the nickname of Malfunction Junction owing to the number of failures that occurred in its early days.

The last NSWGR Type H frame was taken out of use at Sefton Park Junction on 6th January 2006.

The original (disused) Sydney Station box still stood and actually outlived the two later boxes, but it is thought that it may have been demolished around 2002.

Additional notes by Graham Harper and Noel Reed

Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson