St James Station.

From Engineering Heritage New South Wales


    In 1926 the Institution of Engineers Australia published a series of papers in Transactions describing the Electrification of Sydney and Suburban Railways up to that date. They were republished as a facsimile edition by the Australian Railway Historical Society, NSW Division, in 1987.

    One of the papers, by John Job Crew Bradfield, titled The City Railway covers that part of the much bigger project in detail and it is from that document, in Bradfield's own words, that the following description is copied. Figure numbers for plans and photographs are those of the original document and, where available, better quality versions of the same image have been sourced from other series.

Figure 27 - St James Station


    St. James Station (Fig. 27).-This station is located at the northern end of Hyde Park, with entrances and exits from Elizabeth Street opposite Market Street, also from St. James Road in Queen's Square at the top of King Street.

With a rail level of 56.00 the station is some 40 feet below the surface of the park.

The two island platforms are served by four tracks, the Down City and Up City East lines occupying the outside roads, while the two inside tracks serve the eastern suburbs.

    The outside walls of the station at platform level are 108 feet apart, the roof being supported by four 25 ft. 6 in. reinforced concrete arch spans, carried on reinforced concrete walls of 24 in. thickness. The construction with the leading dimensions of these arches, centre and side walls is clearly shown on Fig. 28.

    The two island platforms have a width of 28 feet with an overall length of 520 feet and are served by stairways to the concourse. One 12 ft. stairway from the concourse to each platform gives access for the incoming passengers, while two 6 ft. stairways on each platform carry the outgoing passengers to the concourse floor, a rise of 16 ft. 6 in.

    The concourse situated in the centre of the station, has a total width of 108 ft. 6 in. and a length of 108 ft. 6 in., with a clear height from floor to roof panel of 16 to 18 feet, and is constructed with steel columns and girders encased in concrete, with reinforced concrete floor and roof panels.

Fig 28. - St James Station. - Cross Section.


    Separate entrance and exit subways are provided so that the incoming and outgoing passengers do not meet and thus avoid that mutual interference which a common entrance and exit would undoubtedly have. The subways are in twin construction, with plain concrete walls and reinforced concrete roof, with a clear width of 10 ft. to each subway and a height of 7 ft. 10 in. to the springing line of the low sprung arch, which has a thickness of 12 in.; the subways lead to an easy flight of steps giving access to the street.

    The total rise from platform level to the St. James Road entrance is 36 ft. and that to the Elizabeth Street entrance 17 ft. 6 in.

    This station is designed to serve terminating, as well as through traffic, being the junction station for the Eastern Suburbs connection, and provision has been made, as in all stations, for handling the maximum number of passengers that is ever thought likely to be realised.

    The four main arches spanning the station have a height from rail level to underside of crown of arch of 25 ft. 9 in. and support something like 14 feet of fill. The arch has a thickness of 14 in. at the crown and 21 in. at the haunches, with 1 in. diameter main reinforcement bars at 12 in. centres top and bottom. The distributing bars placed longitudinally are ¾ in. diameter and spaced 24 in. apart on both the intrados and extrados.

    The structure was designed as a series of arches over elastic piers and the following maximum stresses were obtained. At the crown of the arch the maximum compressive stress was 240 lbs. per sq. inch, while at the foot of the pier the stress did not exceed 280 lbs.

    In the open cut excavation for the station, a " Bucyrus " dragline excavator, with two steam navvies was employed, while a three-ton electric crane was installed in the cut to deal with the larger pieces of rock. The total quantity of spoil excavated amounted to 128,446 cubic y1rds, consisting principally of shale and rock. It is interesting to note that the "Bucyrus" dragline removed in 26 consecutive working days (8-hour) a total of 26,000 cubic yards of material.

    Construction started with the pouring of the side walls, which were at once waterproofed with asphalt and backed with 9 in. brickwork. At the top, the walls were stepped back into the rock face to form the abutments for the side arches. Both side walls have a 4 in. drain at the base, while under the hand-packed rubble over the haunches of all the arches a similar pipe is led down the walls and piers to the track drains, thus a perfectly dry roof is assured.

    Where the floor of the concourse abuts on the arches, an expansion joint is provided over the full width of the station, thus leaving the concourse floor quite free from the side walls of the concourse and end walls of the arches.

Fig 29. - Dragline Excavator at St James Station Site. 3 January 1923. Kathleen Butler Albums, Mitchell Library.


    The centre walls were then poured and the timber centering for a length of 30 feet erected. The placing of the concrete in the arches then proceeded in the same manner as described in the building of the Museum station. All outer walls, the main arches, roofs of the concourse and subways are completely waterproofed with a layer of ¾ inch mastic asphalt, this covering in turn being protected by a layer of brickwork in cement mortar.

    A complete system of ventilation has been installed in the concourse, lavatories and all offices. Air ducts are so arranged that a complete change of atmosphere is provided every 10 minutes in the concourse and offices, and at intervals of 5 minutes duration in the lavatories.

    A fairly elaborate system of drainage had to be provided at this station, for dealing with the lavatories, concourse and subways. The whole of the lavatory drainage had to be carried through the eastern wall of the station to a manhole, and on account of the difference between the pipe invert and top surface level, it was necessary to construct a special pipe inspection chamber on the outside of the eastern wall, running practically the whole length of the concourse. Entrance to the chamber is effected through a door in the attendant's room.

Fig 30. - Open Cut for St James Station looking North. Showing Tunnels under Macquarie Street. 20 July 1923. Kathleen Butler Albums, Mitchell Library.


   The branch pipes in this chamber are all fitted with inspection caps, and in case of chokage, are easily accessible for cleaning. The drainage from the manhole situated in the centre of the chamber is carried down a shaft to a convenient distance under the tracks, to a second manhole built outside the western wall of the station. Between these two manholes, and in the line of pipes, a smaller inspection manhole was constructed on the Up Western platform, intercepting at this point the drainage from the signal box at the southern end of the platform and also the whole of the concourse drainage. The track drainage and seepage throughout the station limits is collected by a 6 in. track cross drain near the centre line of the station and diverted to the western manhole through a trap to the main sewer. The main 6 in. sewer then follows a western direction to a manhole outside the south wall of the passenger subways near Market Street and at this point it intercepts the whole of the subway drainage discharging it into the Harrington Street branch of the Bondi sewer. The drainage of the passenger subways is well provided for by a complete system of 4 in. bends and cast iron slot drains near the side walls.

   Every facility has been provided for the complete inspection and cleaning of all pipes and fittings.

   Station Fittings and Finish.-The three stations described, namely Central, Museum and St. James, are furnished with a modern system of train indicators, placed in suitable positions so that travellers may see at a glance the time and number of platform from which their train departs. The indicators show the three approaching trains in the order of their arrival. At the departure of the first train, the indicator will change number two to number one and the destination of a third train appears. This system of train information combined, with the one-way traffic arrangements at all stations should prevent traffic congestion and provide free movement for the passengers.

Fig 31. - Northern Concourse. Central Station. 30 August 1926. SARA NRS 17420.


   The interior walls of the stations and subways are finished with a hard glazed tile to a height of 8 feet or thereabouts. Above this the concrete is treated with two coats of mill white water paint sprayed on, giving a hard white surface which is also continued over the ceilings.

   The cream body tiles with top and bottom moulding courses are common to all stations, but the colour of the moulding tiles will be different at the various stations, which should assist the passengers in a rapid realization of their location. The colours chosen for the Museum and St. James stations are red and green respectively, while the Central station concourse, which is not observable from the trains, is also decorated with the green tile moulding. The lavatory walls, in Museum station only, are entirely covered with white glazed tiles, with neutral tint mouldings.

   The concrete floors of the concourses and subways are covered with a continuous layer of mastic asphalt, 1¼ in. thick, having the following composition :-

   Natural Neuchatel Rock Asphalte 50%    Bluestone Chippings 25%    Fine Bluestone Screenings 10%    Trinidad Bitumen 15%

   The lavatory floors are covered with Terrazzo paving, light grey in colour and having a finished thickness of ¾ in. after grinding. Waiting rooms and station offices have a floor surface of Magnesium composition, some ¾ in. thick, of a light brown colour and pleasing appearance.

   To ensure a non-slip, long-wearing tread for the stairways, a mixture of carborundum, sharp sand, and cement, in the proportion of one, one, two, was laid over all treads and landings to a thickness of ¾ in. All steps have a 12in. tread with a 6 in. rise, while the extreme height between floor and landing, or the rise of any one flight of steps, never exceeds 8 ft. 6 in.

   The platforms at Central station have a floor covering of tarred metal, well rolled and worked to a smooth surface while the platforms in the Museum and St. James stations, being under cover, are finished with the bituminous asphalt, 1¼ in. thick, already referred to as the floor covering for the concourses.

Fig. 32 Museum Station 9 November 1926. SARA NRS 17420.
Figure 33 - St James Station 9 November 1926. SARA NRS 16669.

   The wrought iron work enclosing the stair-wells on the platforms at Central station is of simple design, the balustrade rising 4 ft. 6 in. above the platform !eve!, the main uprights being cemented into and stayed from a concrete kerb round the wells. Square newels of cast iron are placed at the head of the stairs, with a collapsible gate between them. The entrance barriers are placed at the concourse level and consist of cast iron posts and collapsible gates with short sections of wrought iron balustrading between, of the same design as that used for the stair wells. The exit barriers consist of posts and gates only.

Fig 34. - Northern Concourse, Museum Station. 9 November 1926. SARA NRS 16669.


   The handrailing at the sides of the stairs is formed of 2 in. diam. oxidised brass piping with cast bronze brackets fixed to the tiled walls.

   At the north and south concourses of Museum station, barriers are used similar to those mentioned above, but the design of the balustrading is somewhat different, the ornament being supplied by the introduction at intervals of a Greek fret pattern. The handrailing is the same as at Central station, there being a total of almost 1,200 lineal feet in these two concourses.

   St. James station with its open stair arrangement has called for extensive balustrading which has been carried out in wrought ironwork of plain bars with panels at intervals of a geometric pattern, furnished with a base of sheet iron. The handrail is bracketed from the balustrade and as a finish to the latter, which is 4 feet high, there is a capping of extruded brass. Over 800 feet· of this capping was used and greatly enhances the appearance of the ironwork. Entrance and exit barriers consist of cast iron posts with Doric caps and bases, collapsible gates and short sections of wrought iron balustrading to link up with that around the stair wells.

   The station offices have been designed to give the maximum convenience to the travelling public and the appurtenances are of the most modern character. Telephone facilities are provided throughout for the general public as well as the railway staff.

   The lighting of the stations is so arranged that a failure of two separate sources of supply is necessary to effect a complete shut down in the lighting; these. sources are represented by high tension ring mains traversing the system and feeding the lighting reticulation through two independent transformers; while a constant supply of 10% from a 25-cycle main, would give sufficient light to the stations in case of failure of the main supply.

   A complete water supply system has been installed throughout all stations. In addition to the ordinary supply for the lavatory blocks in each station, provision has been made for hosing down all concourses, subways and platforms, besides fixing drinking fountains in the most suitable locations.

   In the selection of size of pipes a fairly wide margin has been allowed, so that there may be no depletion of supply due to the encrustation of the pipes in the future, also wherever possible more than one main supply has been availed of and the schemes so arranged that in case of a breakdown in any one main there will be no interruption to the station supply.


Fig 35. - Concourse St James Station. 9 November 1926. SARA NRS 16669.



Ladies Lavatory at St James Station. 7 December 1926. SARA NRS 16669.
St James Station. Special Construction and Signal Cabin. 25 September 1924. Kathleen Butler Albums, Mitchell Library.


For engineering drawings of the work at St James select the links below. These do not appear in the original publication.

St James Station. Notices in Wall Tiling

St James Station. Stair and Railing Details

St James Station. Balustrading and Gates

St James Station. Details of Main Arches and Walls

St James Station. North and South End Walls

St James Station. Details of Stonework at Entrances

St James Station. Queens Square Entrance

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