Destroyed heritage at Clunes station

You’d think that in this day and age restoring a heritage station building wouldn’t be that difficult – but in 2010 contractors managed to screw up a job at Clunes station, sending it straight to the tip.

The contract for Clunes station was dated 25 September 1874 and the polychrome brickwork station building was completed by J. Short, with a cast iron verandah supplied by Robinson Brothers.

Photo from the Clunes Museum collection

By the 1980s the water tower, crane and van goods shed had been demolished, with the lamp room and men’s toilet at the north end of the station demolished in 1980. The last passenger train to pass through the station ran in 1993, when The Vinelander to Mildura was withdrawn. The station was then boarded up, the only passing trains carrying freight.

Arriving into Clunes...

In December 2008 the State Government announced passenger rail services to Maryborough would resume, but Clunes was left out of the project, V/Line trains rolling past the abandoned station from July 2010.

Rolling through the abandoned station at Clunes, the new works siding yet to be commissioned

But in June 2010 it was announced that Clunes would also be re-opened, so restoration works started – including the complete rebuilding of the platform. However the finished station was missing one major feature – the veranda.

The Courier has the full story.

Clunes Train Station historic verandah removal sparks anger
30 November 2011
Brendan Gullifer

The State Government will proudly unveil the newly refurbished Clunes train station this weekend — but with one glaring omission.

Contractors working on the $7 million project ripped down the station’s ornate iron verandah and sent parts of it to a scrap merchant.

Local residents are appalled and are still waiting for answers to how the mishap will be fixed.

Hepburn councillor Don Henderson called it a travesty.

“It’s just a piece of our heritage that is gone and will never be returned,” he said yesterday.

“It’s irreplaceable and in a town like Clunes, where heritage is so important, it’s a very big loss.”

Transport at Clunes president John Sayers, one of a small band who have helped negotiate the return of rail services, said he was horrified when he learnt about the mistake.

“It’s an appalling situation to have arisen,” he said.

Mr Sayers said the verandah superstructure, which held up the corrugated iron roofing, was chopped up and sent to a metal dealer while the solid iron posts were saved.

These had been removed to Creswick station for safe keeping, he said.

“We’re hoping some sort of verandah will eventually be built which will hopefully include the old posts.”

Cr Henderson said the verandah was an exact copy of one carefully preserved at the restored Creswick rail station.

“People will still be able to see what existed on this particular railway link,” he said.

But while many local rail enthusiasts were in mourning, those involved officially with the station’s renewal were reluctant to talk.

Building contractors Abigroup referred The Courier to the Department of Transport. A departmental media spokesperson said she would look into it, as did a spokesperson for Transport Minister Terry Mulder.

Neither responded to questions by press time.

Acting Hepburn chief executive officer Peter Reeve said there was an ongoing investigation into the missing verandah.

He said the planning permit included verandah removal to allow platform works and its restoration.

By July 2012 a replacement verandah had been erected at the station.

Commercial Systems Australia photo

But none of the original cast iron posts were used in the new structure – just modern steel beams and poles.

As for the boarded up station building.

Google Street View 2010

In 2015 it was restored for community use.

Google Street View 2017

As part of VicTrack’s Community Use of Vacant Rail Buildings Program.

All aboard Creative Clunes’ new cultural hub
20 November 2015

The historic Clunes Railway Station has been reinvented as a cultural hub, becoming the new home for Creative Clunes and the Clunes Booktown Festival.

State Member for Buninyong, Geoff Howard said Creative Clunes has taken on the head lease of the revamped station building, following the completion of works funded from the Victorian Government’s Community Use of Vacant Rail Buildings Program.

“This much loved, 140 year old station building has been given a new lease of life as the new home to Creative Clunes,” Mr Howard said.

“This project has successfully adapted this historic station building into a vibrant cultural hub, offering the local community an impressive new arts venue with its form and function.

“People will be able to come to explore their artistic side, utilising the hub’s creative and meeting spaces.

“It also provides permanent offices and volunteer facilities for the popular annual Clunes Booktown Festival – which attracts visitors from across Australia and the world to celebrate both historic and modern literary works.”

VicTrack and V/Line carried out restoration work to the exterior of the station building, with Ballarat Civic Construction completing extensive internal renovations.

These works included installing new foundations and floorboards, connecting services, restoring the plasterwork, and reinstating the doors to the platform.

The building now also has a kitchenette, accessible toilets, shower and a new access ramp.

Further reading

Talbot and Clunes Conservation Study, Richard Aitkens (page 339)

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2 Responses to “Destroyed heritage at Clunes station”

  1. Andrew says:

    It looked better without the modern verandah. I hope the company involved was financially penalised.


    The new station is much nicer. That new verandah made it much nicer

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