Nagle Catholic College Gymnasium

The Old Railway Station – Heritage Restoration 

GBSC where contracted by the City of Greater Geraldton to undertake the restoration of the heritage listed Old Railway Station. The original Railway Station is a cultural heritage icon of state-wide significance. It has a permanent entry on the Register of Heritage Places (No. 1068) having been built in 1878 to house the first Government Railway Station in Western Australia as part of the Geraldton-Northampton Railway line project.

Due to being unoccupied since the year 2000, the building had deteriorated to a very poor condition due to vandalism and exposure to the harsh marine environment. There was extensive decay, rotting timber structures and finishes, cracking to structural walls and footings, deteriorated masonry from rising damp and fire damage too many fixtures.

The fragile state of the building resulted in several challenges. Many tasks had to be done painstakingly by hand such as removing rubble from under timber floors, excavating new lift shaft and removal of toxic waste (15m3 rodent and bird faeces) from roof space. Walls had to be underpinned as there were no footings and the sewer had to be lifted under existing concrete.

Extensive restoration work was required to the exterior and interior of the building to restore it back to its original state. Exterior works included cement render removed and restored from original stonework by a master stonemasons, refurbishment of all casement windows including pulley weight systems for window sashes and refurbishment of all timber doors and door frames. The exterior works also included the complete removal and refurbishment of the old Merry-Go-Round “50 Cent” swing. The historic icon was restored and situated as a centre piece in the new deck area.

Structural work included underpinning external walls constructed of natural stone, plies dug in alternative sequence and filled with concrete and reinforcement to avoid collapse of the double storey stonework and structure. Existing jarrah roof frame was reinforced to achieve compliance

The veranda was entirely reconstructed using original and replica timber posts, Balustrades and mouldings. Timber recycled from the demolition was machined for reuse as internal floor boards and external decking. The internal skirtings were custom machined to the same profile of the existing. The internal jarrah staircase required sourcing of suitable dry timber. Doors badly damaged from termites were remade by a custom joiner to match. Internal walls required building with lime render (original mix of lime putty and sand) to achieve matching alignment. Roof sheeting, gutters, down pipes were replaced in galvanised heritage roofing material.

Additional amenities required for compliance were added to areas on the outside of the building envelope ensuring the building maintained its original lines, resulting in the front elevation viewing as completely original. A lift was also installed to allow alternative access to the first floor.

The City engaged the services of Hocking Heritage Studio an architectural practice specialising in heritage and conservation. The scope of works included the specific contractual requirement that they ensure the heritage authenticity of the building
Despite challenges, the contract was completed on a tight schedule and within budget. This required the staff of GBSC, City of Greater Geraldton and the Architects to work collaboratively. The commitment and focus of staff from all organisations was essential as the work required creative solutions to challenges as they emerged.

The stunning outcome was made possible by the team willing to go above and beyond duties to complete the project safely, on time, within budget and with the desired finishes. The result is something of which the whole community can be proud of.

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