Strathfield and Homebush Rail History

 By Cathy Jones

26 September 1855

On this day, the first railway line in NSW was opened.  The 22km ‘Great Trunk Line’ operated from Sydney (Redfern) to Parramatta with stations at Newtown, Ashfield, Cheltenham (Burwood), Homebush and Parramatta Junction at Granville.  The Sydney terminal was on the south side of Devonshire Street, just south of the current location of Central Station.

At the opening of the Sydney to Parramatta railway with the vice-regal train driven by William Sixsmith, would have passed what is now Strathfield station at about 11.40 a.m. Fares were high: first class 4s, second class 3s and third class 2s. Over 4000 people travelled on the first day with the journey taking 40 minutes, a revolutionary improvement.

Opening of Homebush station at a cost of £275. The station provided revenue because of substantial traffic to Homebush Racecourse. The station was officially 12.74 kilometres from the city and was also valuable because of its proximity to Parramatta Road. Both platforms were 99 metres long. Racecourse traffic was only maintained for about five years after the original opening because the racecourse was moved to Randwick.

The opening of Homebush Station in 1855 was described in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH 27 September 1855) as:

“On descending a gradient of one in 165 and one in 160, we reach Powell’s Creek, at which point the line is but 82 feet above the level of the sea. A quarter of a mile further on, and we arrive at the Homebush station, which is situated within 200 yards of the Parramatta Road, near the Governor Gippsland and Cutts Inns. The entrance to the Homebush racecourse is about three quarters of a mile from the station towards Parramatta. Ascending at the rate of 1 in 132 and 1 in 100 for 38 chains, and descending again at the rate of one in 100 for 15 chains, we come to Potters Creek at a distance of a quarter of mile from Parramatta Road when is the line gradually the verges. From this point to Parramatta, the land is covered with timber and thick scrub. After leaving Potts Creek with past through some heavy cuttings and embankments in the land of Mr Thomas Underwood. We next pass over the land, formerly the property of Sir Charles Nicholson, who (and let it be mentioned as an honourable exception) gave the ground required for this railway free of charge”.

In its first full year of operation of the new rail line between Sydney and Parramatta over 350,000 passengers had used the new rail service.


A goods siding was opened at Homebush and during the 1860s a station master’s cottage was constructed at Homebush as well as cattle and sheep yards at the western end of the station.


Cattle yards erected at Homebush station and progressively expanded until Homebush became the Saleyards for Sydney.


Deputation by Sir Daniel Cooper, a Director of the Sydney Tramroad and Railway Company for a ‘halt’ without a formal platform to be erected at the new estate called ‘Redmyre’.

9 July 1876

A ‘halt’ established where passengers flagged down the train approved for Redmyre at about the current site of Strathfield Station. The halt officially called Redmyre.


Platforms completed at Redmyre. About 68 metres long, relatively short.  At this time there were 13 trains running between 11am and 11pm.  The trip from Sydney took approximately 28 minutes with 5 intermediate stops.


The timetable of July 9 1877 indicated that 66 passenger trains normally passed through Strathfield Station Monday to Fridays.  Of these about 20 stopped ‘when required’ and approximately three made regular stops.  The time of the journey was about 28 minutes with five intermediate stations.


The Stockyards opened at Homebush adjacent to Flemington Rail Station.  By 1883, 42 trains were scheduled to service Strathfield with an average trip taking 31 minutes with 9 intermediate stops.


Flemington Station opened as two platforms with a waiting shed and goods office.  A footbridge connected the station with the saleyards completed in the previous year.


The stockyards at Homebush Station closed.


Redmyre Station renamed Strathfield at the request of Strathfield Council.  In the same year the number of platforms increased from 2 to 4 to serve the newly opened Strathfield-Hornsby Branch.


Major work and new long platforms, 134 metres, for the opening of the new northern line that reached Hornsby in 1894.


The timetable of July 9 1877 indicated that 66 passenger trains normally passed through Strathfield Station Monday to Fridays.  Of these about 20 stopped ‘when required’ and approximately three made regular stops.  The time of the journey was about 28 minutes with five intermediate stations.


By May 1887 traffic had increased to 100 trains per day, 80 making regular stops, with 66 extra on Saturdays, on which 40 stopped.  The time of the journey had increased to 31 minutes with 10 intermediate stops.


Two private carriage works were located near Strathfield Station.  The first, Carnes Car Building Company, had a siding and works on the northern side of the station.  This Company commenced work in 1890 and at some later date the siding was closed.  The second company engaged in the construction of the rolling stock was J. Morrison Company, whose business commenced in 1889 and ceased in 1895.

During the 1890s loop lines were made to the Homebush saleyards.


Quadruplication of lines between Sydney and Homebush.

Loopline built between the main and northern lines at Homebush to connect with the saleyards.  Homebush platforms moved approximately 45 metres to the west.

Area over Beresford Road Strathfield acquired to erect a carriage shed to accommodate carriages and engines used in the Sydney-Homebush suburban service.  The shed was converted to a workshop for the Railway Institute in 1945.

 3 July 1892

New footbridge and station buildings erected at Homebush station.  Completion of four tracks from Homebush to the city, greatly improving travel speeds and allowing express trains from Homebush to Sydney.


Island platform at Strathfield widened and a 21 metre wide overhead bridge built with accommodation for offices and platform access.

23 September 1901

The new Strathfield Station was opened to the public.


New Station Master’s residence built at Homebush.


Branch line extended to connect with the new Enfield Marshalling Yards.


Construction of completely new station at Strathfield with major roadworks. Six tracks now at station.

In October 1926, the Railway Department closed Bridge Road, between the Boulevarde and Everton Road, Strathfield which had crossed the railway.  A new subway road underpass was built to link the  and the approach roads leading from Mosley and Cooper Streets on the north, and from Clarendon Road (now Albert Road) on the south. A road linking The Avenue (now Churchill Avenue) and Clarendon Road was opened (now called Raw Square). (Labour Daily 1926).

27 August 1928

Electrification: Homebush to Sydney.


Death of Stationmaster in rail accident.  The following plaque was erected on Platform 3 at Strathfield Station:

‘Frank Thomson, Platform 3, Strathfield Station, Strathfield.  Erected in memory of the stationmaster who lost his life in the course of his duties 20.9.1972.’  Apparently Thomson lost his life when he was stabbed attempting to stop a person without a rail ticket. (Henderson 1988)


The Strathfield Rail Station and Complex (including underbridges) was gazetted as a heritage item on the State Heritage Register and Strathfield Council Local Environmental Plan.

The Homebush Rail Station was gazetted as a heritage item on the State Heritage Register and Strathfield Council Local Environmental Plan.


Fox and Associates, Strathfield Heritage Study, 1986

Henderson, B(ed), Monuments and Memorials, 1988, Royal Australian Historical Society Register

A ROAD CLOSED (1926, October 7). The Labor Daily (Sydney, NSW : 1924 – 1938), p. 6. Retrieved August 7, 2021, from

New South Wales Public Transport Commission Archives Section as quoted in Jones, M. (1985), Oasis in the West.

NSW Heritage Branch, NSW Heritage Inventory Database, information obtained from

Strathfield District Historical Society Newsletter, Vol.1, No.5, June 1979.

Sydney Morning Herald, 1855 September 27, ‘Opening of the Sydney Railway’, p4


  1. Thankyou to your site where I found that my great great grandfather, John Morrison built the Strathfield Council Chambers and discovered that his rail carriage works operated near Strathfield Station between 1889 and 1895. A very informative website, regards Sharn


    1. Hi Sharn,

      I am a journalist from the Strathfield Scene newspaper. You might have some local knowledge to share with us. If you ever want to suggest stories or local news, contact me.

      Jess Noble | Journalist | Big Splash Media
      Suite 2, Level 8 50 Margaret St, Sydney
      9299 7348 | 0432 974 997


  2. I’ve read elsewhere that Frank Thomson (Strathfield Stationmaster 1972) wad stabbed while trying to stop a passenger who had no ticket.


    1. There is an article in Australian Railway Historical Society July 2012 edition that states that the Frank Thomson was the Station Master in 1972 and was stabbed when he attempted to stop a person without a ticket.


  3. About the death of the Station Master at Strathfield Station in 1972. My mother was on the train with the man who
    killed him. It wasn’t really an accident this man has been running around threatening people with his knife. My
    understanding of the incident was that the Station Master was a brave man.


    1. Yes he didn’t get a longer sentence very sad my father john Ranse was the one who stopped him he tried to help the station master but it was too late unfortunately mostly everybody locked themselves in toilets etc I’m so very proud of my dad he was stabbed in the head leg arms etc it made a terrible impact on not only his life but his family we had to re-live this event with him he was very mentally affected by it reliving not only himself that was stabbed trying to stop this guy but watching this guy stabbing the station master and the other ladies and the court cases etc …but now he’s 90 yrs old still doing ok as I said I’m very proud of him on that day he’s a real Aussie hero


      1. My Uncle Frank wax the Station Master. My dads brother. I was only 9 at the time but remember it well. A truly devastating time for all of the families involved.


    2. My Uncle Frank. He truly was a brave man who sacrificed his own life for the protection of others. William Thomson


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