NotesThe indicator board was built for the main assembly platform of Sydney Terminal Station (Central Station) which is a huge area of some 2/3 of an acre (0.27 ha) or 3 000 square yards (2 500 sq m). Sydney Terminal Station is Sydney's third terminal station, for which the foundation stone was laid in April 1902. The building was officially opened at 11 am on Saturday 4 August 1906. The indicator board was described in the 'Sydney Morning Herald ' of the day as "a thoroughly modern train indicator board. It is manipulated ingeniously, curiously contrasting with the clumsy method in vogue at the present station and besides giving the lists of departures indicates the arrival of all the principal main line trains".
When first erected, 20 panels were devoted to station names and the centre two panels under the clock were for arrival information. Once a new arrival board was built in about 1910, the centre two panels, which are slightly narrower than the others, were converted to take 30 slats each for departure information.
The narrow vertical and horizontal timber strips between the panels, clocks and platform rolls were originally stained and lacquered. The style of decoration can be described as classical revival. On either side of the main clock was decorative scrollwork, inserted with floreate motifs. The clock was capped with a pediment broken by an arch, and there were raised terminals at each end.
Some time before 1937 the stained timberwork on the board was painted. The base and vertical and horizontal strips around the panels were finished in cream, while various other details were picked out in brown and caramel. Around 1945 the board was severely modified and all its neo-classical ornamentation was removed to make it appear modern with Art Deco style embellishments. The graceful scrolled supports, pediment and end terminals were removed and replaced with vertical stepped slats beside the clock. During this modernisation fluorescent lights were added to the top of the board on a canopy.
In the 1940 a new arrivals board, very similar to the destination board, was installed on the assembly platform, replacing the 1910 arrivals board. The new board consisted of 15 panels, each with two clock faces. This board appears to have been removed during the 1960s or 1970s.
In 1982, with considerable reluctance, the State Rail Authority of NSW replaced the indicator board, which had been a landmark at Central Station for 76 years. It was of particular sentimental value to thousands of New South Wales residents and visitors and was a popular meeting spot. The Chief Executive of the SRA, David Hill, said: 'We regret that this piece of history has to be replaced. We have examined a number of options to retain it. In the end it was just too big to retain'. The official replacement took place at 11 pm on Monday 28 June 1982 when the board was replaced by a new passenger display system supplied by the G.E.C. Projects Company using computer technology combined with closed circuit television. This comprises twenty 26 inch (66 cm) television monitors combined in pairs to display 10 train departures complete with stopping patterns, departure times and platform numbers.
In order to preserve the indicator board the State Rail Authority of NSW presented it to the Museum. The dismantling and removal of the board from Sydney Terminal Station took place on the night of Monday 28 June and the early morning of Tuesday 29 June 1982. Eight Museum staff members worked throughout the night to dismantle the board. Because of its enormous length, it was cut into five manageable pieces for transport and was taken to the Museum's store at Arncliffe.
During 1984 the board was re-erected in the Museum's Stage 1 workshop, where repairs to the timberwork were undertaken. Considerable research was carried out and it was decided to restore the board as close as possible to its appearance in 1937. Photographs show that at that time the board was painted in cream, chocolate and caramel, yet it still retained its decorative late Victorian embellishments around the clock and at the top of each end. Timetables and platform listings for 1937 were borrowed from the State Rail Authority Archives, and train departures for a Sunday in 1937 were drawn up.
It should be noted that the board represents an entire day from mid-morning to late evening in order to show the optimum number of panels and stations, rather that as it would have exactly appeared at any particular time.
Because the board has evolved over time and changed considerably in response to electrification, extension and closure of lines and stations, a large number of station name slats had to be added or removed. Colour samples were taken and analysed from all over the board, and it was repainted in the appropriate colours. The decorative metal work was reproduced from enlarged photographs and plans and replaced next to the clock and on the board ends. Since 1988 the indicator board has been displayed in the Transport exhibition of the Museum.
UsedState Rail Authority of New South Wales 1906-1982