Places of South Eveleigh
The stories of South Eveleigh come alive in the remnant historic buildings, structures and footprints of the precinct.
Commissioned and built under John Whitton, Chief Engineer of NSW Railways, and opening in 1887, the Eveleigh Locomotive Workshops were responsible for manufacturing, repairing, assembling, and maintaining every element of a locomotive steam engine.
Among the first trades to commence operation at Eveleigh Locomotive Workshops in 1887 was the Blacksmith’s Shop in Bays 1 and 2—Eveleigh’s centre of metal forging. Many of the Blacksmithing steam-era tools remain on display today in Bays 1 and 2, several of which sit in the exact same location they have been for over 100 years.
Works Managers' Office
The start and end of each workday at Eveleigh was once signalled by the resounding toll of a large brass bell, encased in a decorative tower, perched atop an elegant two-storey building that represented a longstanding and recognisable division between Eveleigh workers and administrative staff: the Works Manager’s Office.
The humble spring was a plentiful and essential component of locomotive engines and carriages alike. This multiplicity of uses for springs was reflected in the many different types of springs manufactured at Eveleigh including flat, semi-elliptic, coil, full leaf, half lead, and helical springs.
Tucked away in the unassuming brick annex between Bays 3 and 4 along the southern façade of the Locomotive Workshop is the powerhouse of Eveleigh’s hydraulic machinery—the Hydraulic Pump House.
From its very establishment in 1887, Eveleigh was a highly unionised work environment, one whose unions, members, and workers would prove crucial to the growth of the Australian Labour Movement. No location at Eveleigh represented this fight for worker rights than the open concrete square between the First Aid building and the Locomotive Workshops, an area that workers came to refer to as “Red Square”.
The 2018 South Eveleigh building ‘The Foundry’ is named for the great Eveleigh Foundry that once stood on this same spot. Responsible for the production of iron, brass and steel castings used for all operations and components for both the locomotive and carriage workshops, the Foundry produced metal items of all sizes, ranging from large bulky cylinders for boilers and larger engine parts, down to the fine delicate fittings used in carriages and wagons.
The final southern Bay of the immense Victorian Locomotive Workshop building housed the Locomotive Stores section, supplied and maintained by the Stores Branch of the NSW Railways, responsible for ensuring the uninterrupted supply of all materials, components and consumables required to keep the NSW railways running.
New Locomotive Shops
From the moment the Locomotive Workshops opened for business in 1887, it was capable and responsible for every task necessary to assemble, repair, maintain, and service the great steam locomotives of the NSW rail fleet that were imported from England and the USA.
Despite the large workforce at Eveleigh, canteen and meal rooms remained a virtually non-existent feature of the workshops until after WW2. Finally in 1949, following a long but successful campaign by Eveleigh unions since 1944, the ‘munitions annexe’ mezzanine level constructed in the southern half of Bay 5 during WW2, was converted into a canteen, meal room and event space for the employees of the Locomotive Workshop.