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Old Northam Railway Station Museum

Old Northam Railway Station

History of the Railway in Northam

The arrival of the railway line in Northam in 1886 marked the beginning of significant growth and prosperity for Northam. The railway originally reached Northam as a spur line from the junction at Spencers Brook. A small wooden structure was built for a station by local builder James Byfield. 

Following the discovery of gold in 1887 the government decided to build the Yilgarn Railway to Kalgoorlie to connect the port city of Fremantle with the rapidly growing Goldfields. Northam was successful in its bid over Newcastle (now known as Toodyay) and York to become the major railway service station. The expansion of the railway in Northam, not only brought prosperity through the gold rush, but also served to open up more land to farming and allowed produce to be transport to Fremantle for export.  

The Kalgoorlie line was completed in 1895 and a new station building was opened in Northam in 1900. In 1917 the line was once again extended to connect the west to the eastern states. 

At its peak the railways employed 1200 people from the Northam district, from locomotive drivers, fireman, maintenance crew and gangers to station staff and cleaners. It lead to the development of workers housing and other small business in the West Northam area. 

The station was officially closed on the 14th February 1966, when the track was realigned as part of the standard gauge project to connect all major capital cities with a single gauge.  

Many thousands of people have walked the platform of the Old Northam Railway Station, from miners and hopefuls travelling to the Goldfields, early settlers to all parts of the Wheatbelt, and servicemen during World War Two and the Korean War, when the Northam Army Camp was a major framing camp. After World War Two, many migrants from Europe arrived here for temporary re-settlement in the Northam Army Camp, and "Holden Camp", a former military hospital in Northam.

Old Railway Station Museum

Old Railway Station Museum

Today you too can walk the historic platform and explore the Old Station, learning more about the history of railways and Northam. 

The Old Railway Station now operates as public museum, with more than 1000 items in the collection which are viewable to the public mostly originating from or relating to the Northam Railways. Other items of general historical interest have also been acquired over the years and form part of the museum exhibition as an insight into life of the past.

Of most significance in the museum collection is the PMR Steam Class Locomotive, No. 721, built by the North British Locomotive works, and placed on service with the Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR) in July 1950 as part of the post-war modernisation and re-equipping of the railways. It was used in service on the Northam Railways until 1972, with the coming of dieselisation. 

Carriage AL59 on display at the museum had a long and significant history of use within the WAGR and the Eastern Goldfields Railway line. It was built in 1895 by the Oldbury Carriage and Wagon Company in the United Kingdom for the WAGR. 

Carriage VW5138 on display started as AU307, a first class suburban carriage built in 1905 by Gloucester Railway carriage and Wagon Company in the United Kingdom. The carriage was built to help the meet the upsurge in suburban traffic being experienced by the WAGR. 

Photographs in the collection include the Northam Railway Yards, locomotives, wagons, derailments, Northam Railways sporting teams and events and Northam Railways employee reunions.

A large portion of the collection consists of Western Australian Government Railways W.A.G.R. memorabilia. This includes railway tools, uniforms and various dinner plates, side plates, cups, saucers and glasses with the WAGR insignia on them. The Northam Railways piano is also a feature of the collection. There are documents including WAGR train register books, land leases, diagrams, work books, service maps, time tables, tickets, various forms and applications, newsletters and railways magazines.

Opening Hours

Please contact Northam Visitor Centre for opening hours. 9622 2100 


For more information please contact the Northam Heritage Forum