Preserving Burpengary station’s history

Published 5:00am 27 November 2023

Preserving Burpengary station’s history
Words by Kylie Knight

When work begins on the $53 million Burpengary train station upgrade in January 2024, one integral part of the station’s history will be retained – a concrete shelter shed which was built more than 100 years ago.

The structure of reinforced concrete was innovative at the time.

According to a spokeswoman from Queensland Rail, the contract to build the North Coast railway line to Caboolture was awarded to John Robb, and construction began in 1886 with 420 workers employed for the duration.

On June 11, 1888, the 25 miles (41km) section to Caboolture was complete. Along the way, Robb built substantial bridges across ‘Burpengarry’ Creek and the Caboolture and North and South Pine rivers.

In 1888, a small platform was constructed at Burpengary. It was referred to as a ‘gate’, or ‘crossing gate’, needed because a road crossed the railway line.

Wooden gates needed to be opened and closed by a gatekeeper, to stop road traffic when a train was due.

In 1916, a new concrete station shelter building was approved for construction at Burpengary and, from 1916-1917, the railway line was duplicated from Narangba to Burpengary and then onward to Caboolture.

As part of the works, a new shelter shed was built at Burpengary. It remains there today.

The names of some of those who worked on the shelter were recorded on a handwritten document found in the ceiling of the building in the 1990s. The instructions were that if the document was found 20 years after being sealed and dated (which was June, 1917) that it be returned to the workers.

The document also included references to the ‘Great European War’ ‘raging in its third year.

In 1917, an honour board was unveiled at the station. It was the result of a fundraiser by the community to recognise local men and women who enlisted during WWI. It is now at Burpengary Community Hall.

In 1921, Burpengary station was a prize winner for its gardens display in the Commissioner for Queensland Railways Annual Garden competition.

Station mistresses were a long-standing tradition in the Queensland Railways, going back to the late 19th century. In 1931, the first station mistress was placed in charge at Burpengary station.

The Post Office also was run from the station for more than 50 years. Two long serving officers-in-charge were Mr Williams and Mrs Jackson.

Preserving Burpengary station’s history
A rendered image of the upcoming Burpengary train station upgrade
Preserving Burpengary station’s history
Historical image of Burpengary Station

Preserving history

Queensland Rail Head of South East Queensland Scott Riedel says the team is excited about Burpengary station’s accessibility upgrade which will build a station for the future, while honouring the past.

“The station building is important to Queensland Rail as it was one of the examples of a design technique which was then used across the network,” he says.

“We have been very careful to incorporate it into our station accessibility upgrade to ensure it is preserved.”

The station building at Burpengary is presently being used as the station staff office and houses the ticket window, public and staff amenities, a storeroom and vending machine.

“Once the upgrade is complete, the station building will still sit in pride of place on the platform, as it has done since 1917, ensuring it is conserved,” Scott says.

“It will be used by Queensland Rail staff and a story board will be installed on the side of the building detailing its significance so the community can enjoy this slice of history for years to come.”

When it was built, the station was prefabricated from a ‘kit’ of reinforced concrete components and then assembled at the site by semi-skilled labour under the supervision of one or two skilled trades.

Queensland Rail staff were innovators in this type of construction and it was a technique adopted across the network due to its success.

Queensland Rail’s heritage team has placed the station building on the Queensland Rail Heritage Register. It is not on the State Heritage Register.

Burpengary train station will close starting from January 2024. It is expected to reopen in September, pending construction and weather conditions. The work is expected to take 8-10 months. 

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