When The Past And Present Collide In Euroa: What’s In Store For The 150 Year Old Goods Shed?

by | Jan 29, 2024 | Industry News & Updates, Shed Stories | 0 comments

Image Snip taken from: Google Maps

Euroa’s iconic Goods Shed, once a bustling hub of activity, now stands silent and neglected, surrounded by a metal fence, a stark contrast to its vibrant past. Whether it remains for the years to come is yet to be determined.

A Brief Visit to the Past

Constructed in 1873, the Goods Shed retains its historical significance, boasting original elements such as corrugated iron from the major brand Gospel Oak, imported from Britain in the 1860s to the 1890s.

The enduring presence of the Goods Shed is a source of fascination for many. Erected in 1873, the structure preserved numerous original components, such as corrugated iron from the major brand Gospel Oak, which was imported from Britain in the 1860s to the 1890s.

Architectural historian and emeritus professor in the Faculty of Architecture, Building & Planning at the University of Melbourne, Miles Lewis, emphasised the remarkable significance of this historical feature.

“I know of no other intact roof of this material [in Australia],” says the architectural historian.

When the Goods Shed Future Seems Unclear

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) argues that the shed must be removed to make way for future rail infrastructure, citing an independent engineering assessment that highlights the severe dilapidation and risk to public safety. The report suggests salvaging only significant items from the structure.

However, locals, including community group Euroa Connect, challenge this decision, asserting that the damage is superficial and repairable.

John Simpson, Chair of Euroa Connect, claims that local tradespeople are willing to contribute time and effort to ensure the shed’s safety. Despite differing opinions, the ARTC acknowledges the Goods Shed’s value to the community and expresses a commitment to exploring potential repurposing options.

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Animated Vision: A Dream Revealed On a Wall

DIY projector wall.

The group members are seeking to garner backing for DESIGN Euroa’s concept. (Image By: Shirley Saywell)

Animated plan proposal by DESIGN Euroa.

DESIGN Euroa aims for the community to adopt an ambitious mindset regarding the shed’s future. ( Image by: Shirley Saywell )

As residents await clarity on the future of the Goods Shed, the community group DESIGN Euroa has conceptualised a vision for the precinct. Their plan envisions a well-maintained Goods Shed and the addition of a pedestrian underpass in the vicinity.

To showcase their innovative ideas, member Shirley Saywell revealed that the group has initiated a nightly animated display projecting the design onto the Franz Kloft Mechanical Repairs shop on Binney Street.

Ms. Saywell emphasised that the projection serves as a catalyst for creative thinking, saying, “We’re not prescribing this as the sole option. Let’s think expansively, creatively, and cleverly about the possibilities for Euroa over the next 50 years.”

This initiative follows extensive discussions between residents and the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) concerning designs and developments related to the Inland Rail project in the town.

Ms. Saywell disclosed ongoing conversations about the potential acquisition of the Franz Kloft building by the ARTC, exploring possibilities for the space in future projects.

Expressing the group’s aspirations, Ms. Saywell conveyed DESIGN Euroa’s continued desire for the ARTC to purchase the site and integrate it into the proposed pedestrian underpass within their visionary plan. She emphasised the unique opportunity presented by the available space for sale, deeming it impractical to overlook the chance to transform it into a remarkable public area.

When The Past Has Not Gone By For Some…

Max Burnside on the other hand have recollections of the shed’s heyday that underscores its historical importance that serves as a reminder of a bygone era, when it played a vital role in the town’s commerce. Max Burnside’s role involved unloading and distributing goods that arrived at the building via the north-east train line. He started working at the shed in 1948, a time when Euroa had seven local grocery stores, and when only a few residents had their own private vehicles. Reflecting on the past, Burnside shared, “All seven grocer shops relied on goods rail, and their supplies found a home in the Goods Shed. The volume of goods was substantial – up to five trucks’ worth solely for the grocery shops. It was not uncommon for the level crossing to be impassable for about 20 minutes due to passing trains.” Violet Town historian Bruce Cumming strongly advocates for the preservation of the shed, stating, “Its removal would hold consequences beyond Euroa, as it represents a tangible link to that specific period. The shed’s materials, showcasing their effectiveness, contribute to the historical fabric we stand to lose.”

Protected For The Moment, But Until When?

Goods Shed Map Location

In late November, Euroa Connect secured an interim protection order for the Goods Shed through the Heritage Council of Victoria. This order temporarily shields the structure, or any object within the state’s heritage register, necessitating permits from Heritage Victoria for any alterations or potential demolition. Heritage Victoria is a government organization in the Australian state of Victoria that is responsible for the identification, conservation, and promotion of heritage places and objects.

The decision on whether to officially list the shed in the state’s heritage register is pending. Heritage Victoria is set to deliver its recommendation to the Heritage Council by January 23.

Regarding property acquisition, the ARTC spokesperson clarified that acquisition occurs only if vital for the Inland Rail project’s execution. They emphasised a commitment to avoiding any impact on properties and businesses not essential to the rail development. Details of discussions with property landowners remain confidential and are actively ongoing.

Designed For Local Disaster Or Designed Around History

ARTC proposed design. for Goods Shed in Australia.

Image taken from: https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/

Despite resistance from locals, the ARTC has proposed its own design for the railway precinct, incorporating feedback from nearly 400 residents. The design includes two pedestrian underpasses, a vehicle underpass, and a new station platform, aiming to balance the project’s requirements with community input.

The proposed design introduces a vehicle underpass to replace the Anderson Street bridge, a station forecourt opening onto Railway Street, a new station platform, additional parking facilities, and two pedestrian underpasses facilitating access between platforms and connectivity throughout the precinct.

Inland Rail, a transformative nationwide project, aims to revolutionise freight movement across Australia. In Victoria, the initiative includes work at 12 sites, with Euroa undergoing changes such as the replacement of the Anderson Street bridge and modifications to the railway precinct to accommodate the safe passage of double-stacked freight trains. The goal is to enhance the speed and reliability of delivering everyday products across the country.