The Australian Technology Park is one of Australia’s best known examples of urban regeneration, a contemporary industrial precinct, which has remained faithful to its railway past.
We take a look back in time at it’s fascinating history and place in the community.
Prior to European settlement, the area surrounding the Australian Technology Park belonged to the Gadigal people of the Eora nation.
In 1822, the 62-acre site was granted to James Chisolm, a former non-commissioned officer, who constructed the Chisolm Estate. A section of the area was dedicated to farming and in the 1830s Chisolm built Calder House on a hill overlooking his land.
The house was described as beautiful with its “spacious verandas” and “park-like grounds” in The Sydney Evening News. However, the article neglected to mention that some rooms were barred to contain prisoners, who were responsible for the manor’s maintenance. Chisolm died in 1837 and his wife remained in the house for almost two more decades.
In 1855, Chisolm’s estate was bisected by the western rail line to Parramatta, which prompted his widow to move to Goulburn. The homestead was leased to J.F. Castles who opened an exclusive school for boys at the premises.
Rail transport in Australia mushroomed during the late 19th Century. In 1878, the NSW Government allocated approximately 65 acres for the rail yards, on the land surrounding the rail line. They purchased the site in 1880 for 100,000 Pounds to establish the Eveleigh Workshops. Four years later, the construction of the manufacturing workshop sheds commenced.
In 1899 a workshop dedicated to locomotive overhaul and assembly opened and in 1908 Eveleigh began to manufacture its own steam engines.
Calder House became the residence of Eveleigh’s General Works Manager, but was demolished in 1924 to make way for the expanding industrial enterprise. In 1927, even the hill where the Calder House previously stood – overlooking the Chisolm Estate - was razed, to allow for further construction.
Eveleigh’s workforce had mastered skills and knowledge that was geared towards steam-age technology, but the steam-era wound down in the 1950s and Eveleigh’s last steam train was manufactured in 1952.
The factory evolved to service diesel and electric fleets in the 1970s. However, much of the workshop equipment consisted of Victorian-aged machinery and the technology could not keep up. Eveleigh’s operations declined and eventually came to a halt in 1989, when the Eveleigh Railway Workshops closed down.
The architecture left behind is a celebration of the site’s rich railway heritage, with many original artefacts scattered throughout the Park.
For a brief period following the rail yard closure the site was occupied by Paddy’s Market. In 1991, plans for the creation of the Australian Technology Park were announced, with leading Sydney universities hoping to regenerate the area and develop a technology and innovation hub.
In 2000, the management of the park was taken over by the NSW Government. The workshops were converted into offices and conference facilities, which retained their industrial charm. The technology aspect of the park grew rapidly and there are more than 100 resident firms located there today.
The park has remained faithful to its origins. It contains the most significant collection of Victorian blacksmithing machinery in the world, as well as a blacksmithing school called Eveleigh Works.
Parts of the Australian Technology Park are available for event hire and the industrial architecture has served as a glamorous backdrop for many weddings and television shows.
It remains an icon in our local community.
If you’re interested in learning more about Alexandria’s fascinating history or lifestyle today, talk to us at Brad Gillespie – we’re local experts in the neighbourhood.
Photo Credits: Mirvac