St James Tunnels Air Raid Shelter. Photo © Stuart Miller for Sydney Living Museums

St James Station Tunnels 2017

Focus Tour - Saturday 4 November





George McRae, NSW Government

The St James Station of today – a series of tunnels under Hyde Park (some used, some not) – was built in 1926 by NSW Government Architect George McRae as open-cut worksites, and later covered over.

The tunnels were intended as part of a bold new underground metro that was not fully realised. Sydney engineer J C Bradfield returned in 1914 from the United States, having investigated modern transport systems, and proposed electric railways for the City of Sydney, including an underground city rail loop.

Work on the loop began in 1916 but stalled due to lack of funds, so excavation for both the Museum and St James stations only started in 1922, and was not completed until 1926. While two of the St James tunnels have been in continuous use ever since, the other two, running both north and south (to support Bradfield’s proposed eastern and western suburbs lines), were never put into active service.

During World War II, two redundant tunnels to the north of the station were used as RAAF bunkers, while disused tunnels to its south served as public air raid shelters, accessed from Hyde Park above.

Tour experience

Starting from St James Station concourse near the entry, Sydney Open Ticket-holders will tour these disused tunnels that once gave war-time shelter. Concrete blast doors built into the walls to protect doorways between tunnels can still be seen today. Check out the soldiers’ messages on bunker walls, the more recent satanic cult artwork, and the ‘ABC Bell’.


Australian Railway Historical Society, Sydney Trains Heritage Unit and Sydney Trains staff

Key information

Session duration

90 mins (total incl. registration and induction), tour length 60 mins


This tour has a capacity of 15 people per session.

Visitor requirements

  • Arrive 15 minutes before your tour start time, as latecomers cannot join the tour
  • Wear comfortable, enclosed non-slip shoes
  • Only bring essential items, as storage is limited
  • Be aged 18 years or older, with a good fitness level
  • Due to the heritage nature of the site, some surfaces around the site are uneven
  • Your items may be inspected during the induction
  • Participants of this tour will be required to sign a waiver on the day; you will be able to review the waiver when making the Focus Tour booking

This tour is unsuitable for people who:

  • have limited mobility and/or are uncomfortable in enclosed spaces and darkness


There will be no refunds if you miss your tour.

Sydney Trains and Sydney Living Museums bear no responsibility for items lost or stolen.

to know

  • Toilets available

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