View looking towards Mortuary Station at night illuminated by lights.

Mortuary Station at night. Photo courtesy Sydney Trains

After Dark: Mortuary Station

Focus Tour - Saturday 2 November 2019

Chippendale

Built

1869

Architect

James Barnet, Colonial Architect

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The only remaining example of a purpose-built Victorian funerary railway station in Australia, and possibly the world, Mortuary Station is one of the most ornate sandstone structures in Sydney – and certainly one of the most unusual railway buildings in NSW.

In 1869, funerary services were separated from ordinary railway traffic with the introduction of a dedicated cemetery branch line between Mortuary Station and Rookwood Necropolis. Both buildings were designed in the Gothic Revival style by the renowned colonial architect James Barnet. The train service operated between Sydney and Rookwood for over 80 years, transporting funeral mourners and visitors to the cemetery until the 1930s: eminent Australians John Fairfax, Sir Henry Parkes and Samuel Hordern all took their final journey from Mortuary Station. By the 1930s, motor hearses had become the main form of transport to the cemetery, so Mortuary Station was used for other railway purposes until finally, in 1948, the train service was withdrawn. The Rookwood Necropolis Receiving House was dismantled in 1957 and relocated to Canberra, where it is now the All Saints Anglican Church in Ainslie.

Tour experience

Sydney Open visitors will have the rare chance to explore this mysterious site at twilight and night-time.

Visitors will take a journey back in time to learn how this elaborately carved stone railway station was built to serve Victorian funerary practices in Sydney. Appreciate the landscaping and admire architectural and cultural aspects of the building with a Sydney Trains heritage specialist. Visitors will gain an insight into the development of burial practices in early Sydney, and the relationship between Mortuary Station and Rookwood Cemetery, and discover how the former Devonshire Street Cemetery and the building of Central Station fit into this fascinating history.

Presenters

Sydney Trains Heritage Specialists.

  • Photograph of Mortuary Station, exterior.
  • Mortuary Station, view from Regent Street.
  • Photograph of trackside arches at Mortuary Station.