Situated west of Sydney at the 181.400 km marker, is the preserved 1869 vintage Rydal railway station. This is an community run / operational heritage station found on the NSW Western Line.
Rydal opened as a small local but important station in 1869, in an era as the main and branch lines expanded outwards from Sydney and raced across the country side towards towns and villages across NSW. Rydal’s small but distinctive building was designed with Victorian Gothic features with a unique layout as the station also incorporated the station masters residence in the same overall building design. This design feature was not done at that many stations across NSW, with only 5 other stations having a similar setup. It is noted that a construction of the combined station office building / station master’s residence, goods shed and a 12.192m diameter turntable pit contract was awarded to R McIntosh in August 1869.
Rydal was constructed in the same time frame as the nearby and famous Zig Zag formation. Rydal is located on the Main Western line between Lithgow and Bathurst and was built as the main line headed towards Bathurst. The station officially opened on 1 July 1870 and upon completion Rydal was for a short time the line terminus station. This saw a crossing loop and two sidings built along with a goods shed. Passengers used Cobb n Co coaches pulled by horses to travel from Rydal to Bathurst in this short time as the line was expanded. The Rydal railway station also served as the telegraph office and post office from 1870 until 1902 linking Rydal with the rest of Australia. Rydal was an important focal point for the area, as it the surrounding farmers were large producers of wool and this saw much goods traffic from Rydal station and yard over the early years. This rail traffic saw the town of Rydal next to the station flourish but as traffic slowed down the town also shrank as people moved away.
A photo showing the station in early 1900s?, also showing the goods shed and crane which was once in place.
When the first passenger train arrived in Rydal on 1 July 1870 the Sydney Morning Herald noted, “There was no festivities to give éclat to the event”. This situation was only rectified in 2005 when the Hon. John Watkins M P and the Minister for Transport visited Rydal on 2 July 2005 to “officially” open the NSW Western line railway to Rydal……
STATION BUILDING/ RESIDENCE
The main station building is similar to five other combined railway station office/residences in NSW – all of which are slightly different. The building is a Station / residence – Type 1 – sub-type 2 , dating from 1869. It is in good condition with some minor alteration to the original structure. The setting on the main road allows the buildings to be seen more clearly than most station buildings with the street facade taking as much prominence as the platform facade even though it is the entry to the residence only and not to the offices. The building is planned with the offices arranged linearly along the platform with access only from the platform and the residence containing four rooms behind.The building is constructed of face brick with quoining details to windows and corners. The roof is clad in corrugated iron with two prominent gables at either end featuring plaques with the date of the building. There are three corbelled brick chimneys. The awning structure and original gable barge boards have been replaced with plain profiles in contrast to those seen at Tarana. It is likely that the front awning was added at a later date in the 1880’s, as the structures from this period did not have platform awnings provided. A feature of the building is the decorative timber framing to the entry porch of the residence. It is only 1 of 5 station designed with Station and Station master house incorporated. All the other similar structures, are found heading west towards Blayney railway station and these have major alteration to their original design
The 2 platforms show how the changes in materials and technology were incorporated by the railways with a change from stone to brick. The original station side platform was made from stones and with the growth of the platform as trains increased in length in consists it was expanded. The 1914 duplication platform seen on the other side, used to have a timber waiting shed present but was demolished. The second platform has what is an interesting feature which is curved and sloping brick retaining walls at the rear of the platform.
This is a small modest Signal box Type 3, dating from 1914. It has a skillion roof timber clad design, which was typical to duplication works early in the 20th century.
This is a small gable roofed corrugated iron shed with 6 pane windows probably dating from around 1880. It is unusual in design not appearing to be a standard structure. It is a relatively rare structure as it is not directly related to the platform or to track side.
Other minor changes to the railway station since construction include a new shunting neck (1890), stockyards and ‘out of’ room which was demolished in 1983. A loading guage marker is a remnant of the peak wool trade on the rail and is one of the few remaining such structures. It is the only observed timber gauge surviving. It is a reminder of the importance of the Rydal once held in the region, with the once booming wool production years.
WAR MEMORIAL (Lithgow Council owned)
The war memorial is one of only eight war memorials located at a station building and/or on railway land in NSW. An artillery gun has been removed from the war memorial at an unknown date.
The plantings at either end of the platform add visual strength and definition to the site indicating a community pride in the railway station.
The single line opened from Wallerawang to Rydal on 1 July 1870. The line was duplicated from Wadina to Rydal on 14 March 1915. Services in early days included passenger and goods movements while the line was built to Bathurst. Once the line was extended , less passenger and goods trains stopped unless required by their schedules or cosignments needs.The line has operated as a single track from 1998 when duplicated track was removed. A daily Countrylink XPT service stops at Rydal each morning and afternoon for travellers.
Rydal station was not demolished or neglected like many of NSW stations but simply marked as “unattended” in 1984 and has remained that way ever since which have enabled it to be kept up due to its historical condition as an operational Countrylink stations for services to stop at. The station has been restored and maintained by the locals in the village. It is also listed on the National Heritage Register due to its importance. The building is supported by its landscaped gardens nearby and is an important landmark in the small town. Other preserved items at the station including the signal box, both platforms and a small storage shed as they show how the ongoing development of the rail network occurred. These items help to also highlight how railway stations locations adapted to line duplication and increased train movements.
The main building is divided into 2 areas. On the platform side are the Stationmaster’s Office, the Waiting Room (now Rydal Library), the Ladies Waiting Room (today the Ladies Rest Room). The bed and living section for visitors take up the road side part of the building.
The station was marked unattended in 1984 and noted as closed on 27 May 1989?. It is now being used as a tourist accommodation venue for short stays. The planned restoration of rollingstock will also help to educate visitors.
HG Brake Van L572 formerly HG 15022 – Built as a HG timber Brake Van for use of goods and passenger trains in 1909 for the NSWGR by the Ritchie Bros in Redfern Sydney. It was withdrawn from active use 1940 and then refurbished 1947 into a work accommodation van for NSWGR Electrical branch and used at Lawson railway station in a disused siding. Removed from official service in 1980 and sold privately, it has been now loaned to Rydal station in 2009. An overhaul was started at Rydal in June 2013 with hopeful completion by September 2013. It will be restored externally in black and grey scheme and internally later on. It will once finished be placed into the dock siding of the Rydal station for public display and educational purposes.