Exterior of the Townsville train station seen from across the road

News of the Day

Northern Miner, Tuesday 23 December 1913, page 7


Townsville’s new railway station was opened for passenger traffic today. The 6.45 a.m. was the first train despatched, and throughout the morning the periodical arrivals and departures were the centre of interest of groups of people who were there, out of curiosity more than anything else, loitering about or peeping through the bars that cut off the platform approach -for the customary barrier was in operation. Outside the building the vehicular traffic presented a busy appearance; in fact, through the limited asphalt approach, it bordered on the congested state. A row of cabs, boomerang, in formation, extended from the station entrance along the full length of the lower portion of Blackwood Street, leaving a very narrow strip of solid road for other vehicles and, invariably, much difficulty was experienced in effecting a return to Flinders Street.

The building is not yet complete, and departmental duties are being performed amid the tradesmen's professional hubbub. But, withal, work proceeded without hindrance, and temporary inconveniences were borne cheerily enough There was an air of proud possession amongst those employees fortunate to be transferred to the new quarters, and, indeed, they have much to be proud of. The spacious rooms in the upstairs portion which open on to a corridor, are delightfully cool, and are fitted, or are to be fitted, in most modem style. The platform space is ample and situated in convenient positions are the ticket office, cloak room, and other necessaries. In the hall entrance a huge board which indicates the despatch of trains, is fixed in a conspicuous place, and though not in working order to-day, it is expected to be in use this week.

Passengers by the mail, ordinary, and special trains this morning were much surprised to find themselves carried beyond the now defunct station and deposited at the new building, but all were agreeably impressed with the change, and very flattering comments were passed as to the elaborate structure.

The traffic was not abnormally heavy, though satisfactory. In the region of 400 people arrived by the Cloncurry mail, while 200 journeyed from Selwyn by special to Hughenden, where it connected with the ordinary 8.10 a.m. Another special from Charters Towers brought a full complement in seven carriages.

The goods traffic was carried out as usual, no alteration in this having yet been made.


The first railway station, built in 1880, was located in Flinders Street near the corner of Jones Street, about three blocks west of the present station building. The original plan during the construction of the Townsville Railway was to locate the station near Magazine Island at the mouth of Ross Creek. The idea was revived when plans were being drawn up for a new station in 1910. Commercial interests backed the Mayor who argued that Ross Creek would cut off the railway terminus from the city centre. The community successfully partitioned the government to have the building located in Flinders Street between the town centre along Flinders Street and the busy business district at West End.

Construction of the new terminus for the Great Northern Railway commenced in 1910 and the building opened on 24 December 1913. Vincent Price, an architectural draftsman in the Railway Department, prepared the drawings. The new terminus was an impressive and imposing building, built in the tradition of the grand railway stations of the 19th century in Britain, Europe and the United States. The building, which initially served as the headquarters of the Great Northern Railway with the letters GNR prominently displayed on the facade, contained the offices of the general manager and ancillary staff.

Subsequent changes to Townsville Railway Station have included the replacement of a large metal carriage shade which extended over three tracks with a smaller cantilever awning in 1969. The corrugated, galvanised iron roof and front awning was also replaced. A four storey, brick extension on the western end of the building was constructed in 1965. The main foyer retains original finishes on floor and ceiling. A World War 1 roll of honour board is located in the foyer. The interior of the upper floors has been modified including the partitioning of large rooms into smaller offices. While the General Managers office was moved into the new building in 1965 the upper floors of the station continue to be used as administrative offices.

In 1997 some of the interior was refurbished, including the pressed metal ceilings in the toilets and other ground floor rooms.

Courtesy of the Queensland Heritage Register.


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