Then and now at North Melbourne station

Today we take a step back to the 1920s and take a walk around North Melbourne railway station, comparing it to what exists today.

At the north end of the platforms little has changed.

VPRS 12800/P3, item ADV 1607

The only difference I can spot is the removal of the sheltered timber platform seats, replaced by cold steel benches.

Looking across the platforms at North Melbourne station from platform 1

The entrance to platform 4 and 5 has changed a little more. Still used by trains headed west to Footscray, Sunshine and St Albans – these trains now head further north to Sydenham and Sunbury.

VPRS 12800/P3, item ADV 1606

The timber gates used by ticket checking staff are gone, replaced by fare gates on the main station concourse, and the pull down ‘bathgate’ train indicators have been replaced by LCD screens.

Entrance to platforms 4 and 5 at the north end of North Melbourne station

A much bigger change is visible outside the station, at what was once the main entrance for passengers.

VPRS 12800/P3, item ADV 0624

Dynon Road once crossed the railway tracks via the north side of North Melbourne station, until the current bridge was opened in 1968.

This spartan brick station building replaced the original 1886 station building in 1974, until it was made redundant in 2009 with the completion of the current southern entrance to the station.

1970s station building at North Melbourne station, now closed to passengers

Another contrast can be seen this eastwards view from platform 6.

VPRS 12800/P3, item ADV 0705

The only constant is the bluestone faced platforms – static billboards are now motorised advertising panels, towering apartment buildings have replaced terraced houses, and the gardens along the Railway Place have given way for a concrete retaining wall.

Looking across the platforms at North Melbourne station from platform 6

The city end of the platforms have seen similar changes.

VPRS 12800/P3, item ADV 1185

Neatly tended gardens haven given way to a weed covered slope, a brown brick bunker has been erected to house modern signalling equipment, and the bluestone platform face has given way to concrete.

City end of platforms 1, 2 and 3 at North Melbourne station

At first glance little has changed north of the station, where the Upfield line branches off from the Werribee, Sunbury and Craigieburn bound tracks.

VPRS 12903 P1 Box 164/05

The same number of tracks remain in place today, the only difference being the lineside signals and gantries supporting the overhead wires.

Six pairs of tracks at North Melbourne Junction

But this view from the December 1935 edition of National Geographic Magazine titled ‘Flashes of Colour in the Fifth Continent’ tell a different story.

From ‘Melbourne as featured in National Geographic Magazine 1935’

The “blossums and foliage between the rail lines on the embankments provide a colourful approach to the capital of Victoria” are long gone, replaced by weeds and gravel.

EDI Comeng arrives into North Melbourne on the up

The same contrast can be seen at the city end of the station, where a carefully manicured garden occupied the space between Railway Place and the tracks.

VPRS 12903/P1, item Box 164/07

The garden was demolished in the 1960s when the North Melbourne flyover was constructed as part of the North East standard gauge project, the area taking on the current look following the completion of the Regional Rail Link project in 2015.

VLocity VL56 and classmate on a down service head over the North Melbourne flyover

A short history lesson

  • 1859: station opened
  • 1886: six platform station complex completed
  • 1919: electric trains introduced
  • 1962: North Melbourne flyover completed
  • 1968: Dynon Road moved onto new bridge
  • 1970s: track rearrangement to cater for City Loop
  • 1974: new entrance replaced 1886 building
  • 2009: current southern station entrance opened, northern entrance closed
  • 2015: North Melbourne flyover rebuilt for Regional Rail Link


A 1979 photo of North Melbourne station by Len Johnston.

Liked it? Take a second to support Marcus Wong on Patreon!
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

14 Responses to “Then and now at North Melbourne station”

  1. Beren says:

    Oh how beautiful it used to look. What happened? Why can’t we make anything look nice anymore? It’s like compare a top down of Flinders Street station, and the new concourse looks so damn ugly from above.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Old buildings didn’t have air conditioning so none of that equipment to hide up on the roof, and there wasn’t a need for walkways and handrails to stop workers from falling off.

  2. Elliott says:

    Pity about the bluestone. Someone charged a fortune to the taxpayer to remove that and then charged a fortune to someone who could afford to avoid tax to put in their fancy home or garden.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      The bulk of the bluestone platform face is still there today – the construction of the City Loop portals in the 1970s saw two tracks at a time closed to create the required space, so I assume that was the reason for the concrete at the city end.

  3. Andrew says:

    The embankments at the 1920s station look very attractive. Imagine making and maintaining the gardens between the tracks nowadays and the chaos of safety procedures that would need to be followed. Many changes, but trains still run on tracks.

  4. Ives says:

    *West Melbourne station.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Renaming a station then giving the old name to a new station is a recipe for confusion – say what you want about ‘Southern Cross Station’ as a name, but if someone says Spencer Street they’ll still get there – or a blank look from someone too young to remember the ‘good old days’ – but never sent to the wrong place!

  5. cat mack says:

    I think that North Melbourne is one of the better upgrade designs. They have at least retained much of the old station and the modern up-grade (despite limitations) is respectful. Unlike Footscray for instance, where the new station buildings completely overwhelm the old buildings. I don’t see any real problem with maintaining gardens in any of the old spaces. It would require some safety stuff of course but it would look a damn sight better than the weeds which currently grow.

  6. Neil says:

    North Melbourne station is one of my early childhood memories l have, seeing cars using Dynon Road just north of the station entrance. Whist employed on the railways, l had to seek shelter inside the building on platform 6 on several occasions when l missed the last train home.

    If you go to the bottom of the ramp to platform one, and go to the street side and look north, you will see an aperture for another rail line.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *