FFF 74. Friday Facts & Fotos Friday 22nd December 2023

Newport Past, Present, and Future !

Originally the 1888 site was 160 acres. By 1962 this had been reduced to 130 acres and still employed 3000 workers. By 1982 this was down to 120 acres following the demolition of the biggest foundry on the site and the establishing of the Newport Technical college on the west side of Shae St. Then in 1994, 50 acres of what was left was declared a heritage site and added to the Victorian heritage register (H1000). This is less than one third of the original workshops.

Heritage use of the original 50 acres of H1000 has been changed over the years. All of the East Block buildings and yards have been fenced off and has not been accessible to any of the heritage rail groups. In 2010 Metro trains were allowed to build storage siding around the Tarp Shop, isolating it from the rest of the site.

More recently the Department of Transport has been given permission to erect modern overhead, high fencing and security lighting at the Garden platform. On 15th January, these modern overhead masts and security fencing are scheduled to be erected right in the middle of the heritage site and this area will be changed forever.

On the positive side, VicTrack and Heritage Victoria have allowed and supported the Hobsons Bay Men’s Shed to restore the Clock Tower and administration Building at the heart of Newport. They are doing a magnificent job and we applaud VicTrack’s support of this volunteer effort.

Eleven major studies over the past 30 years have all concluded that the old 1888 Newport Railway Workshops are the most suitable and cost-effective way of preserving Victoria’s rail heritage rolling stock in a large undercover area that would incorporate operating heritage rail groups and a railway museum. We believe this is the most appropriate use of the heritage listed Newport workshops, and have presented the government with a 6000 signature petition calling on them to formally establish it as a heritage rail precinct and to secure its future for heritage rail activities.

We will be taking a break of a few weeks. We trust you have a great Christmas and look forward to your support on 2024.

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