Saturday, 2 December 2006

Mortuary Station

This station in Regent St, near Central, was built for funeral trains to leave from, headed for the city's grand new cemetery, the Necropolis, at Rookwood. It operated from 1867 to 1948. Beautifully restored, it is rarely open to the public.

There was also a station at Rookwood Cemetery, which was dismantled in 1957 and transported to Canberra, where it was rebuilt to become All Saints Church in the suburb of Ainslie.

Below is the platform side, taken from Prince Alfred Park, across the railway lines.

There's more views at Sydney Daily Photo Extra.


  1. Nice view of a wonderful building. It has also seen use as a restaurant and a film set (many times). During the 90's it was often used for heritage trains until the platform was shortened to make way for the new RailCorp HQ.

  2. cette eglise est superbe, j'adore son architecture. et puis cela fait bizarre de la voir derriere une gare.

    this church is superb, I adore his architecture. and then that shown odd it behind a station.

  3. susan in atlanta02 December, 2006 17:03

    Very, very nice building. And I enjoyed reading about the history.

    This is a very funny video (kind of long) where he does a bit about Aussies among other things (Starbucks, Bahrain). It is so funny...thought you might want to watch it. I love this guy!

    Craig Ferguson.

  4. The one thing I don't understand at all is why there were FUNERAL TRAINS? Were they trains full of dead people? And if so, where were they coming from in such great numbers?

  5. Hi Nathalie

    Well, originally when Sydney was getting going the first cemetery was on the site where Central Station now is.

    Of course, there was a need for a new cemetery as the city expanded and the station was built.

    Rookwood, way out in the sticks then was chosen, so then came the matter of transportation.

    Rail was the Great New Thing, the sign of modernity and progress, so rather than use horse and cart (or timbrell?) I guess they decided to run a hearse-train. And unlike today when people have their own private transport, that would have been quite rare.

    I'm not sure of the frequency of the trains - I imagine it was on demand, rather like a cortege now.

  6. Wikipedia says:

    "The first burial took place in 1867, following the closure of the Devonshire Street Cemetery, and the Cemetery remains operational. In the past the Cemetery was served by a branch railway line with 4 separate Mortuary Stations. Regular bus services within the Cemetery have replaced the line. Rookwood Cemetery is one of the best and largest surviving examples of a Victorian cemetery in the world."

    Here's about Devonshire Street Cemetery:

    It was closed in 1867 because it was full; it was later the bodies were all exhumed and re-located (1901) to allow for central station. Families and representatives had 2 months to arrange exhumation etc. Costs borne by government. Unclaimed bodies were taken to a cemetery at Bunnerong.

  7. Funeral trains were frequent at least daily. They also ran to other cemeteries, the last to Sandgate in Newcastle finished in 1980's.

  8. I guess people died every day, eh, jd!

  9. This sinister looking builing always gave me the creeps when I came to Sydney via train from the country. Now I finally know what it is.

    Does anyone have anymore info on the tradition of "funeral trains"? Were they usually just for one funeral with the mounrers in the carriages? Was this just specific to Regent street or a practice in the industrial Victorian world at the time?

    The original Rookwood station certainly looks like the entrance to the world of the dead ! (Evil!)

    When this train "terminates" at Rookwood, they were not kiddng!

  10. Og my gosh
    i went there yesterday
    its beautiful in the front
    what is it used for now?

  11. Sydney band Spy v Spy filmed a video clip here called 'Credit Cards' around 1986-87 with one of the trains called the Never Never in the background.
    Its a wonder it hasn't been knocked down , the band were a big believer in keeping the heritage of Sydney and keeping all the old buildings,pubs+warehouses and actually formed in the squats of Glebe.