Full steam ahead on Mingenew station restoration

Edward ScownMidwest Times
The disused railway station in Mingenew.
Camera IconThe disused railway station in Mingenew. Credit: Bahnfrend

The Mingenew council has unanimously supported a tender to restore the town’s historic railway station.

The $340,000 project will transform the station into a space for community arts and cultural groups, while preserving the heritage of the 127-year-old building for tourists.

“It’s one of the oldest buildings in Mingenew, so council was happy to support it, and hopefully preserve it for future generations,” Shire chief executive Nils Hay said.

A tender was first advertised in April. However, rising construction costs amid cyclone Seroja and labour and materials shortages meant applications were coming in well over budget. With the prospect of putting workers up in a Shire-owned house further reducing costs, a deal was eventually reached.

“Talking about a period of about 18 months, construction costs have risen around 50 per cent,” Mr Hay said.

“Things are obviously still fairly tight in the building industry, builders are still having a hard time finding workers and materials, so that was expected.”

Mr Hay said the building remained in good condition, but would need to be brought up to modern building codes before any community groups could move in.

“There is a fair bit of work to do. The building is over 100 years old, so there’s a lot of age-related wear,” he said.

“It’s being set up as an arts and cultural space, which it has been used for historically.”

“There’s probably a place for it in our tourism plan. Maybe a visitor centre. Certainly we’re hoping to preserve the heritage aspect for people who are interested in that side of the station and the Midland railway, which has been significant for the town.”

The station, built in 1894, was once a key stop along the Midland railway line. Mingenew served as the trading hub for all livestock bound for Perth from the northern half of the State. Some of the infrastructure built to support the steam trains and booming trade — such as the coal bin and timber yards — has been demolished. However, the station and platform still remain as they were when the last passenger train departed in 1975, and the railway line is still in use.

Funding for the restoration is split among the Shire of Mingenew, a Lotterywest grant and the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund.

“Without their support, it’s very hard for small local governments to take on projects like this,” Mr Hay said.

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