Exploring Sydney: Rookwood Cemetery

Site of Cemetery Station No 1, Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney, Austrralia

Site of Cemetery Station No 1, Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney, Austrralia

As your train leaves Sydney Central Station, you may spot on the right-hand side an elaborate Gothic building.

This was the Mortuary Station, designed by the Colonial Architect, James Johnstone Barnet (1827-1904), opened in 1869 and later named Regent Street [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regent_Street_railway_station].  It was the terminus for funeral trains to Rookwood Cemetery (1868) at Lidcombe to the north of the city, Woronora General Cemetery (1894) at Sutherland to the south-west, and – if Wikipedia is to be believed – Sandgate Cemetery (1881) in Newcastle, a hundred miles up the coast.

Whether the name Rookwood was chosen in reference to the English Brookwood Cemetery is unclear.  Rookwood Cemetery is so vast, nearly 750 acres, that today it has its own bus service.

Originally, funeral trains terminated at the very fine Haslam’s Creek Cemetery Station, otherwise known by a variety of names including Cemetery Station No 1, also by James Barnett (1867):  [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rookwood_000016.jpg and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rookwood_003903.jpg].

The line was further extended, to Mortuary Terminus (1897), later Cemetery Station No 3, and then to the eventual terminus at Cemetery Station No 4 (1908).  Between Nos 1 and 3, the Roman Catholic Platform, latterly Cemetery Station No 2, was opened in 1901.

The line through Rookwood Cemetery closed in 1948, though its alignment is clearly visible on Google Earth, branching south-east of Lidcombe Station.  The site of Cemetery Station No 1 is in the middle of Necropolis Circuit.

The building itself was badly vandalised and damaged by fire, and was eventually dismantled and transplanted in 1958 to Canberra, where it now serves as All Saints’ Parish Church, Ainslie.

In the course of rebuilding the bell-tower was moved to the liturgical south of the building.  It is now fitted with a locomotive bell presented by the Australian Railway Historical Society.

The church has two English stained-glass windows, the War Memorial east window from St Clement’s Parish Church, Newhall, Sheffield, and another from St Margaret’s Church, Bagendon, Gloucestershire.

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  1. Pingback: Exploring Sydney: Necropolis Receiving Station | Mike Higginbottom Interesting Times

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