Where it began:
During the 1860's, the rail network started to make its way through the untamed bush of Victoria. John Thomas won the second of two tenders to bring the railway line into Maryborough from Newstead.
The progress was slow due to the two extra large spanning bridges over both Joyce's Creek & McCallums Creek (Deep Creek).
One of the most significant events for Maryborough was the grand opening of the rail on 7th July 1874. Thomas Byrnes & Co was the contractor and the specifications stipulated red brick with bluestone base passenger station containing a station, master residence, waiting rooms, general offices, refreshment/dining room, lamp room and verandahs at a cost of 4000 pounds ($8000). Mr P J Kirwan was appointed Station Master and the first train to roll into the station was Locomotive No. 2 Bayer Peacock 2-4-0. Two years after construction it was seen as an expensive blunder in design and storage. A campaign for a new station fell on deaf ears until 1889. In 1887, tenders were called for a Locomotive shed to be built, north of the main yards. It was built by Mr Summerland for 16,221 pounds; the shed consisted of 400,000 red bricks of which 260,000 came from a kiln in nearby Timor, due to over-worked brick yards in Maryborough. 66,000 roofing slates were shipped in from England and 18,000 sq. feet of plate glass for the skylight came from Melbourne. In 1889 William Phelan was awarded the contract for a Goods Shed and Goods Platform at a cost of 1,906 pounds.
Maryborough's new Railway Station:
There are many myths about the Maryborough Railway Station. One is that the station was meant for Maryborough, Queensland. The truth is that it was definitely meant to be for Maryborough, Victoria.
During the 1880's, Parliamentarians argued the case for a new station; the case was strengthened with the extension of the Dunolly - Birchip line that linked to the Wimmera District, with extra wheat trains going to Geelong and the link to Ararat-Warrnambool areas. Maryborough was seen as a very important central junction.
Alfred Outtrim (local Councillor) while on a visit to Melbourne called in to see the Minister of Rail & Transport, Duncan Gillies. Mr. Gillies had business interests in Maryborough, coupled with his electorate in Victoria, listened to Outtrim plead for a new station. 'Have you a plan?" Gillies said, "Of course not" said Alfred, "Then you must go to the Railway Planning Office and get one".
On arriving at the Office, Outtrim took a liking to one plan in particular. No-one seems to know how it happened or why a classified important plan, which was of Spencer Street Station (now Southern Cross) Melbourne (five different plans tendered) was removed from the Railways Planning Office without notice.The plan was taken back to Gillies after viewing from local Council and he agreed to put tenders out to build the station. D.A. Swanson from St. Kilda, was the contractor with the winning tender of 22,000 pounds. Commencing in May 1890, with the old Station still operating the new Station was built over the old and was completed in August 1891.
An unfortunate accident occurred in early 1891, when 25 year old Richard Swain was killed during demolition of the old Station. It is said on a windy day when you go in the foyer you can sometimes hear Richard's screams.In 1895 Mayor F.J. Field, asked American humorist Mark Twain (Samuel Clements) if he would publicise the Railway Station so that a clock tower could be added one day. Mark Twain replied that if they did get a clock tower he would hope it would be deaf and dumb because the clock tower at the Shamrock Hotel in Bendigo had kept him awake the night before. Upon visiting Maryborough, he dryly remarked "A railway station with a town attached". The Maryborough Railway Station displays many hallmarks of the Anglo-Dutch style. This distinctive treatment is most apparent at the roofline, which is enlivened with an offset tower. After receiving funds the clock was installed in the tower in 1914 and illuminated in 1917.The outside roof consists of different types of Dutch gables in various scales with tall faceted chimneys (partly rendered), although they have been slightly truncated by the removal of the rendered crowns. Originally there were also orbs on pedestals at various points along the cornice and copings. Red brick walls are decorated with cement renderings, most of which are associated with the windows and doors.
Tuscan order columns support a wide but similarly profiled lintel and large bluestone steps form the entrance to the base. An outstanding feature is the very long platform covered by a verandah with a hipped roof. The verandah hip ridge consists of a continuous glass panel which shines like a lantern in the sun. The verandah is partly cantilevered and is supported by cast-iron ribbed columns, which also act as down pipes for storm water.
Entering the foyer, you are greeted by an amazing tessellated floor laid by Cawkwell's of Malvern, their elaborate work can also be seen at Parliament House and the Victorian Railways Administrative Offices both in Melbourne.The interior architecture is notable for its beautifully carved ticket box windows and the superb ceiling which is either English Oak or Australian Mountain Ash. Also the front entrance with its decorated impressive iron gates.It was intended that the station should have an official foundation stone but this was never laid because the government at the time, Gillies Government was removed from office after the 1890 election, hence the stone at the front of the building covering a brief history of the railways was laid instead.
In 2011, the $1.6 million restoration project was completed to restore the historic verandah and provide passengers with a safe and comfortable platform area.
These repair works meet the needs of today's passengers while being sensitive to the station's history – evident in the Queen Anne style red brick and large bluestone steps which form the entrance to the base.