The Roma Street Railway Station has high cultural significance having been the main Brisbane Station early in its history and the point of departure for many long distance travellers for generations. The building is also architecturally important as an exceptional example of late 19th century railway station architecture.
Over the years the building suffered haphazard renovations as well as from the lack of maintenance. Architectus in association with Michael Kennedy Heritage Architect worked with Queensland Rail and a team of consultants in the planning of the Stage One Stabilisation Works which commenced in 2011, and started on site in 2012. The works involved making the whole building structurally sound and watertight, as well as the restoration and reconstruction of external elements on the upper floor.
HISTORY AND DESIGN DECRIPTION
The Roma Street Railway Station was completed in 1875 as the terminus of the newly constructed railway line from Brisbane to Ipswich. It was a fine two-storey brick building with a large carriage shade designed by Queensland Colonial Architect FDG Stanley. The ground floor was given over to servicing the platform and contained rest rooms, a ticket office, goods rooms and waiting areas. The upper floor was occupied by administration staff and the Station Master.
Originally the Station had direct vehicular and pedestrian access from Roma Street, but this changed in the late 1930s when new railway lines were installed between the building and Roma Street effectively turning the Station building into an island platform.
In the late 1940s the original slate roof was replaced with Super Six asbestos sheeting, and the building was painted externally. Alterations in the 1950s saw the demolition of the original carriage shade and the addition of an intrusive added storey on the western end of the Station which necessitated the removal of the south western pediment. By the late 1990s the Station was in a poor state. It was largely unoccupied and suffered from a lack of maintenance. The roof leaked in many places due to damaged skylights, and there was considerable falling damp and termite infestation evident.
Stage One Works commenced on site in 2012, and involved making the whole building structurally sound and watertight, as well as the restoration and reconstruction of external elements on the upper floor. Works included reconstruction of the slate roof in its original form; replacement of damaged roof members; restoration of the original brickwork, stonework, and render; repair of windows; and restoration of the original configuration of the western end of the building including the reconstruction of the original pediment and roof.
In such conservation work much of the materials and products used, as well as the specialist trades contracted, have to be painstakingly researched. Often, as was the case with the Roma Street Heritage Terminal, materials required to match existing may not be locally available and have to be sourced from far and wide. Therefore despite the fact that you are restoring an existing building the material selections and skilled labour required is more akin to something that is quite bespoke.
The slate for example was sourced from the UK to match the original slate remnants which were recovered from the site. The replacement brickwork which was specially made in England was done so to match the original bricks which were an unusual size and a distinctive colour.
Rolled lead from England which was preferred by the leadworker, Ady Levene, was used for flashings and ridge coverings to the new slate roof and rendered parapets.
Removing many layers of paint from the existing building was achieved through carefully controlled chemical stripping to cause the least amount of damage to the brick and stonework – and Diec delivered on its promise. The paint stripped bricks had one of the most significant visual impacts to the restoration works during construction.
The upper level northern elevation windows as well as the portico windows were restored to their full functionality. A steam box was custom built for the windows for purposes of paint removal. The weights and cords to the double hung windows were upgraded and adjusted to take the extra load of the new glass.
BRICK REPAIR WORK
Custom made in England
Welsh slate imported from UK
Source: ASI quarry, Helidon
Cut: Ablatio quarry, Helidon
Rolled lead from England
Lead work by ACL Leadwork
METAL ROOF SHEETING
Glegg Manufacturing, ‘Gospel Oak’ Rib and Pan Profile, Galvanised with Z600
The Roma Street Railway Station by Architectus was the recipient of the Don Roderick Award for Heritage Architecture at the 2015 QLD Architecture Awards.