Saturday, September 08, 2012

Mortuary Station

I was looking at my very old Sydney street directory, as is my want, and something caught my eye, Mortuary Station, right next to Central. I assumed whatever was there would have been long demolished, absorbed into Central, but no, the station is still there.

Its original name was later changed to Regent Street Station and it was also known as Necropolis Receiving Station. Its main purpose was for the transport of coffins from Sydney Mortuary to Rookwood Cemetery, stopping along the way at prearranged station stops to collect mourners and more coffins. By the nineteen thirties the funeral procession trains had ceased and a limited service was run on Sundays for cemetery visitors.

Melbourne's Necropolis in Springvale also had a cemetery train service, a spur line leaving the main Dandenong line just after Springvale Station.While it had long closed before I was thought of, I remember visiting the cemetery with my grandmother by bus. I seem to recall every second bus on a certain route went into the cemetery. 

The architect who designed Mortuary Station also designed the station at Rookwood Cemetery. I understand the Rookwood Station was disassembled and moved to Canberra and rebuilt as a church. I'll see if I can find some photos.

My memory was correct. Here is Rookwood Cemetery Station.

 Here it is, rebuilt as a church in the Canberra suburb of Ainslie. Photo by Trevor Bunning.

Mortuary Station is now, as far as I know, locked up, but sometimes excursion trains leave from there. It has also been used as a parcel platform and quelle horreur,  a pancake restaurant called Magic Mortuary. Dear old former Premier Nifty Neville Wran, about whom nothing can be said until he has died, opened the restored Station in 1985.

 Photo by Gordon Smith.

 This one showing the platform side by Marcus Wong, ah Marcus from Waking up in Geelong.

The interior is very nice, but I can't find online photos to show you.


  1. Colin7:41 am


    That photo #4 still exists at Central, Sydney or at least it did last year when I caught the "train to hell" - the XPT to Cootamundra.
    The old station in on the country train side, that is the George Street side of Central.
    If anyone wishes to experience the World's worst train trip catch the XPT from Sydney to Melbourne. Breakdowns and then delightful bus trips are common!
    The old steam Southern Aurora was sheer luxury compared to the new versions.

  2. Soon after arriving in Sydney during the late 1970s I got a job loading up parcel vans on the country platforms at Central. The mortuary platform was used as well. We worked in gangs of about five. The 'stower' (boss of our little gang), would tell us which trains we had to meet and the times. I had a room in a fleabag place just up Pitt Street called the CBM chambers, with the rotten People's Palace (salvation army) right across the street. The job was such a good bludge I could sneak off to the CBM for a while and when I got back no one would know I'd gone. There are huge tunnels under those platforms, and subterranian rooms, trolley-loads of oysters were brought up to the platforms in goods lifts. The mortuary platform was spooky but I was never on my own there; eerie was when I saw a cheap coffin loaded in for somewhere out west.

  3. Whoever rebuilt it as a church sure made a mess of it, there's no style or granduer to it anymore like the original Cemetery Station in the B & W photo.

  4. I was going to write another comment until I noticed RH mention the Peoples Palace in his comment.

    I had a few dalliances there as a youth none of which I could describe in open company here. Let me just say they were slam, bam, thank you man.

  5. Quelle horreur et sacre bleu, crêpes à la 'Morgue Magic' I wonder how long this bizarre venture survived!
    p.s. I'm sorry, but even the 'fittest' bloke looks hideous in lycra Andrew! (I keep thinking of that hilarious video you put up with Matt Shirvington running, soooo funny..but definitely not attractive!)

  6. That People's Palace was the gloomiest most depressing rathole I've ever seen in my life. Lodgers sat in the foyer all day and half the night to delay going up to their rooms.

  7. Mortuary Stations and Funeral procession trains! this is all very interesting. I had no idea such things existed. I wonder if other cities had them? Now I'm wondering who in Adelaide I'd ask. Perhaps the city council?
    The buildings are very lovely.

  8. Colin, the train to and from Melbourne to Sydney is now very old. It is run from Sydney and I doubt any money has been spent on the line, apart from some bodgy rail replacement, for many years. As much as I like train travel, I am not sure I would bother with it.

    As usual RH, you are a font of interesting personal history.

    Windsmoke, I never checked when the removal and reconstruction happened. I didn't think it looked too bad.

    Victor, what wonderful times they were when we would take chances, driven by pure lust.

    Grace, I don't have the punctuation, but crepes a la Morgue Magic is wonderful. Matt looked wonderful in lycra. Maybe I like cock more than you do. :-P

    RH, socially interacting in a common area before they adjourned their evening quarters? Maybe not.

  9. River, I'd reckon there was. The working class could not afford a horse and carriage and until trains and trams arrived, it was Shank's pony if you wanted to go somewhere. I know who to ask about Adelaide funeral trains. It might take me some to remember to do it, but I usually do.