Artisan trades contribute to restoration of Flinders St Station

Photos used in this article are courtesy of Development Victoria

Please note: Images in this article were taken before current COVID-19 safety measures were in place.

The result of four years and $100 million in Victorian Government funding, the reveal of the upgraded Flinders Street station is only months away. We get an insider’s look into how the combination of niche craftmanship and government policy came together to revamp one of Melbourne’s most beloved transport hubs.

Image of the restoration of the clocks and sign at Flinders St stationAustralia’s oldest train station, Flinders Street Station, is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. Its distinctive façade and green copper dome are the result of an architectural competition to design the station held in 1902.  

Now over a century old, urgent heritage restoration began in 2015. Many of the works could not be completed by modern machinery, so dedicated artisans using age-old techniques have played a vital role in the redevelopment.

The works have included the repair and restoration of the façade, roof, and heritage clock tower, as well as the repainting and renewal of windows and the replacement of a staggering eight thousand tiles.  

The project has generated unique opportunities for local Victorian businesses. Under the umbrella of the Local Jobs First Policy, which ensures local businesses are given opportunities on Victorian Government contracts such as these, the project has employed some rare skills.

stained glassed windows at flinders street stationPart of the metal work upgrades, including the building of the acroterion (the classical architectural ornament mounted at the apex) were done without the use of electricity and  involved nothing but the use of hand and foot operated machinery.

With more than seven hundred windows in the building, much finesse was also applied restoring windows, ensuring each was precision-cut and fitted with glass to match the building’s interior and exterior.

Stained glass restorations involved intricate handmade details, with the glass then fired in a kiln, to ensure heritage authenticity.  

The restoration of bricks on the project involved the repainting and use of black lines amongst the mortar joints, a classic reminder of the Edwardian style of the era and one no longer commonly used.  

specialists working on the restoring the brick work at flinders street stationProjects like the Flinders Street Station redevelopment is helping reinvigorate interest in these craftspeople. Many of the small to medium enterprises who participated in this project are now in demand for other heritage projects in Victoria and interstate, for example, in the current redevelopment of the State Library of Victoria.  

Local Jobs First Commissioner, Don Matthews, visited the Flinders Street site earlier this year, praising the redevelopment works and its support of local businesses. He said, “It’s great to see Local Jobs First making a difference to businesses and workers, especially on such an iconic landmark such as Flinders Street Station.  

Northern façade of Flinders street“It was extremely pleasing to see artisan trades being brought back to life through this exciting project. Being able to showcase the artisans’ work and the processes involved is terrific. To see these artisan trades being used in other projects, not just in Victoria but interstate is highly satisfying. Watching local businesses thrive and participate in more government projects, is what Local Jobs First is about. We are committed to supporting local businesses and using Victorian-made products.”

Works are expected to be completed in late 2019.  

Visit the Local Jobs First website to find out further information on projects like these.  

Watch the following short documentary from Development Victoria to find out more.

A video transcript will be provided shortly.