Central Heritage Dig

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3rd December 2009, 03:15pm - Views: 1015

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Contact: Lauren Jones on (02) 8238 3585 or 0417 296 673

Media Release

3 December 2009


A preliminary archaeological dig will be conducted outside Central Station to determine

if foundations or remnants of historical sites that have links to Sydney’s convict past

still exist.

Mr Rodd Staples, Acting Chief Executive of Sydney Metro said three test trenches will

be excavated at

the park between Central’s historic sandstone buildings on the

western edge of the station and Pitt Street.

“The dig will allow archaeologists to determine if any foundations or artefacts are

present, and to plan any further assessment works prior to any major construction

activity taking place.

“The park area lies above where Sydney Metro’s proposed station at Central will be


“The area around the western forecourt of what is now Central Station was in the early

1800’s at the extremity of development of Sydney, and lay close to a toll bar that

marked the start of a dirt road to Parramatta,” Mr Stapes said.

The park in this western forecourt area is believed to form part of the location of a

number of significant Macquarie Period structures, including:

The Benevolent Asylum (circa 1820 –

1901). This convict built two storey brick

structure was built in 1820 as an asylum for 100 infirm, aged, blind and poor

people in an era when there was no form of Government assistance for such

people, and charities provided the only form of relief for the “deserving poor”. It

faced Pitt Street near the intersection of George Street and was demolished in

1901 to make way for the present Central Station. 

The Government Cottage (circa 1820 – 1902) was built on lands that formed part

of the Carters Barracks area. Carters Barracks was built in 1819 to house 200

male convicts who worked in the brick fields (Belmore Park) and 100 convict boys

who worked in the timber yards. Carters Barracks also housed the Government

stables where the bullocks and horses required for government work in Sydney

were kept. During its early existence, the area housed a tread mill –

a then

“modern” method of grinding flour and used as a more “benign” convict punishment

to replace the lash. By the 1830’s the Government Cottage on the site was the

official residence of the Superintendent of the Ironed Gangs –

providing this role

between 1836 and 1849.

It then became the official residence of the

Superintendent / Inspector General of Police from 1849 to 1902, being first

occupied by Edward Day from 1849 to 1850.

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Contact: Lauren Jones on (02) 8238 3585 or 0417 296 673

Media Release

Christ Church Parsonage (circa 1855 -1903). Designed by Edmund Blacket was a

two storey building of four bedrooms and was originally occupied by the Reverend

William Horatio Walsh. The house continued to serve as a parsonage until about

1903. In its later years it was used as a works office for the adjacent railway works. 

Mr Staples said the three buildings were demolished down to ground level in the early

1900’s to allow the construction of Central Station. 

“It is not known if the foundations were also demolished at this time, or remain intact,”

Mr Staples said.

“The test excavations will determine if any remnants are left, and if so, a preservation

plan will be developed.

“Following the test works, the area will be reinstated to its previous condition.

“Sydney Metro will continue to work closely with RailCorp to ensure the preliminary

test works on the Western Forecourt of Central Station are conducted with care.”

Work at Central Station follows the release by Sydney Metro of nine heritage principles

to guide heritage management during planning and construction.

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