The crumbling station building at Newmarket

Crumbling buildings seem to be a theme I’ve been following of late, and at Newmarket station I have found a crossover with my interest in trains. Located in Flemington on the Craigieburn line, Newmarket station has the main brick building on platform 1 located on concrete piers and beams, with a cantilevered verandah sheltering the waiting passengers.

Station building on Newmarket platform 1

It appears the soundness of the structure was called into question in 2012, when four acrow props were placed beneath the veranda, with plastic safety fencing and timber pallets tied to them in a half-arsed attempt at stopping passengers walking into them.

Acrow props holding up the station verandah on the up platform at Newmarket

I first photographed these ‘temporary’ supports back in March 2012, and they ended up staying in place for over a year! It took until April 2013 for proper repairs to be carried out, when the complete cantilevered verandah was demolished and replaced by a freestanding but utilitarian looking timber structure.

Self supported timber verandah built to replace the cantilevered one which was recently  demolished

So if the platform verandah was causing issues, what else is wrong with Newmarket station? Heading to the street side exposes them straight away.

Overview of the reinforcement to the eastern facade

We have an angled acrow prop reinforcing the entire south-eastern corner of the building:

Angled acrow prop reinforces the south-eastern corner of the building

There are cracks between the eastern wall and the foundations below:

More cracks in the piers along the eastern side

Three steel beams have been bolted to the eastern facade to reinforce the brickwork:

Two of the three steel beams reinforcing the eastern facade

With two more acrow props needing to be installed to support the wall above:

Acrow props reinforcing the south-east corner of the station building

A beam on the southern wall no longer sits atop the column it was designed to, with two acrow props and a steel beam taking up the load:

Pair of acrow props and a steel girder reinforce a failed beam to pier join

How was the remains of this beam ever supposed to support a load?

Steel girders and acrow props take the load from a failed beam

Concrete encasing a different beam on the southern wall has cracked, exposing the steelwork inside:

Cracked concrete exposes the internal steel beam along the exterior of the southern side

A steel girder entering the western wall only rests upon a single course of brickwork, due to a chunk of concrete going missing beneath.

Steel girder enters the western wall, resting atop a area of missing concrete

The concrete of the citybound platform retaining wall is damaged, exposing the reinforcing bar:

Damaged concrete exposes the reinforcing bar in the citybound platform retaining wall

And finally, I found three cracked concrete columns, all with the steel reinforcing bars showing.

More exposed reinforcing bar on an interior facing pier

More exposed reinforcing bar in the main pier on the east side

More exposed reinforcing bar on an interior facing pier

So how long has the building been falling to bits? Jumping onto Google Street View I found this image dated November 2009, which still shows the original timber access ramp to the station, but doesn’t show the collection of acrow props that hold the rest of the station up.

Google Street View image, dated November 2009

So what is going to come first? Demolition, or proper repairs?

Footnote

A photo of Newmarket railway station circa 1911 can be found on the ‘Lost Melbourne’ Facebook group – from the Graham Griffiths collection. It also notes that the current brick buildings date from 1925.

May 2014 update

In May 2014 Metro applied to the City of Moonee Valley for a demolition permit for half of the building on the citybound platform. Melbourne newspaper The Age contacted me for comment:

In his blog Waking Up In Geelong, train enthusiast Marcus Wong, who lives near Newmarket, documented how a long steel prop is ”reinforcing the entire south-eastern corner of the building”.

He showed cracks in concrete pillars holding up the building, steel beams bolted on to reinforce brickwork on the eastern facade, and props and a steel beam supporting a deteriorating wall.

Work has since started on moving services out of the damaged part of the station building, in preparation for the commencement of demolition work.

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5 Responses to “The crumbling station building at Newmarket”

  1. John Dickie says:

    Marcus, the crumbling foundations of the buildings on the city-bound side of Newmarket Station are very concerning for Flemington residents. We love the local station! Attempts to obtain information from VicTracks and Metro Trains have been unsuccessful, but there are rumours that it might be cheaper to pull down the station buildings rather than replace the foundations. This would be a significant loss for the local community, as the station buildings provide a real focus at this part of Flemington. You can find old photos of this station on the PROV website (see http://wiki.prov.vic.gov.au/index.php/VPRS_12800_P3_ADV_1171 for example). Station buildings at Kensington, Ascot Vale and Moonee Ponds are protected by heritage overlays. But, for some unknown reason, Newmarket is not. The Flemington Association plans to contact VicTrack and Metro again to at least keep locals informed of developments, and take all possible steps to preserve part of our local heritage.

  2. rohans says:

    Hmmm yes neglect, plus pathetic attempts at propping rather than addressing the problem !

    Be interesting to know exactly what’s happened – obviously cracks have not been identified and fixed as they appeared (especially on the retaining wall). But also it looks like the whole building is maybe moving – the drought could have caused some movement in the concrete columns, exacerbated by lack of maintenance, though I cant understand why the verandah had to come off ! To reduce the weight maybe ?

    Anyway, its a nice building, a simplified version of the more ornate edwardian stations elsewhere, and certainly should have been incorporated in the heritage overlay of the shopping area, where buildings are a similar date and style. In fact its quite a landmark in the streetscape.

    Since the building itself doesnt seem to be cracking up, it should be possible to simply replace the substructure – its certainly easier to demolish and rebuild, but not that hard to replace a foundation.

    However, they will have to replace the now non-comforming ramps with ridiculously long ones, and maybe a lift, changing the appearance of the station area completely – it would take up a lot of space thats now ‘garden’. Better that though than one a new station in a completely new style.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      I can’t see why replacing the foundations beneath the building while keeping the superstructure would not be possible – but of course, the cost of doing so would be an unknown, as would whether that cost could be justified.

      It is a pity that I wasn’t paying attention to the station before 2012 – if I had, then we might know how bad the cracks were in the past, and how far gone the station building was before they were forced to add the props beneath it. Presumably if somebody in charge was paying attention in the first place, these issues might have been avoided.

  3. […] over a year ago I first wrote about the crumbling station building at Newmarket, and now I’ve got an update – Metro Trains Melbourne wants to demolish half of the […]

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