The Eveleigh Rail Yards were built on the site between 1880 and 1889, including the now heritage listed Carriageworks site. These arresting buildings are considered one of the best examples of railway workshop complexes and house within them, the history of Australia's major rail network and the thousands of Sydneysiders that worked here during the bustling industrial time of the 19th century.
Train carriages for Sydney's expanding rail network were built from scratch and maintained within the building. Carriages built here include the Royal Carriages constructed specifically for the Governor General and visiting Royalty, the very first electric carriage, and the first air-conditioned train in Australia.
From 1973 productivity at the site declined due to its inefficient older buildings, restrictive union practices and increased privatization of construction and the site was eventually closed in 1988.
In June 2002 the NSW Ministry for the Arts completed the purchase of the Carriage and Blacksmith Workshops at the Eveleigh Rail Yards site. Soon after a construction project on the site commenced under the name of Carriageworks. The vision for Carriageworks being an artistic hub where creative work could be explored, developed, commissioned and presented.
Adaptive reuse of the workshop site began in 2003 with the housing of numerous contemporary arts practitioners, and Carriageworks officially opened in 2007.
Place is important to the practice of art. Carriageworks is a unique place that’s a home and inspiration for the development of creative work. And in a place that allows for creativity, we experience adventure, excitement, growth and learning.
Image: Toby Burrows