3 October 2023

Suspicious fire destroys heritage building at Bowning Railway Station

| Sally Hopman
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rail building on fire

Fire engulfs the old ticket office at Bowning Railway Station on Sunday. Photo: Bowning Rural Fire Service.

The original ticket office of the heritage-listed Bowning Railway Station burned to the ground at the weekend, in what police are investigating as a case of arson.

Although the station’s brick building remains standing, the old timber ticket office, which also held freight, was destroyed. It was one of the few remaining buildings of its type left on rural NSW railway stations.

Bowning Fire Brigade Captain Nate Holdsworth said two calls came in about a fire on the site, the first on Saturday (30 September).

“When we arrived on the Saturday, there was a fire under the railway bridge nearby where tyres and books were burning, so we knew it was suspicious,” he said.

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“We put out that fire. But the next day, we got another call out to the site. We were the first to arrive and found it well alight, it was completely engulfed in flames.

“Because it was made of timber, there was not a lot we could do. The structure itself had collapsed onto the tracks, so we had to stop the railway.”

Long-time Bowning resident and volunteer bushfire member of more than 20 years, Frances Atkins, said it was a “sad day for the Bowning community”.

She said it was lucky no-one was injured as a freight train had passed through the station southbound on the Sunday night, minutes before the fire took hold.

“We are losing so much of our history,” she said. “What will be next? They have already smashed windows at the station. Now that old building is gone. It had so much potential – we could have used it as a community resource.”

It is understood that the books found burnt out in the fire had come from the building itself, which was not locked.

Although trains no longer stop at Bowning station, it is on the main route between Sydney and Melbourne, with Yass the closest place it stops at.

Old railway building

Bowning Railway Station’s timber building, which was destroyed by fire on Sunday. Photo: Facebook.

“Thankfully, the other buildings survived,” Captain Holdsworth said, adding that it took about an hour to put the fire out on Sunday, with help from Yass Fire and Rescue.

Bowning Station opened in 1876, consisting of a main station and office along with the now-destroyed timber building.

The station, which was once an essential part of connecting the bush to the city in NSW, had been flagged by local community groups recently as needing restoration and, like other old stations in southern NSW, was promoted as an ideal site for community-use redevelopment.

Captain Holdsworth said police attended the fire on Sunday and that investigations into the cause were continuing.

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