Spotswood Railway Station: A brief history and possible future


    By Robert Taylor

    The Melbourne to Williamstown railway line was opened in 1859 but there was no reason to build a station at Spotswood until 1878.

    The local area was then known as Edom, as was the railway station until 1881 when its name was changed to Bayswater for just one month. It then became Spottiswoode and finally in 1905 was renamed Spotswood (the correct spelling of John Stewart Spotswood, a farmer who owned much of the land in the 1840s).

    The original Spotswood Station building was much closer to Hudsons Rd (then called John St) with manually operated gates replaced with boom gates in 1989. 

    The current station building dates to 1912 but only has local heritage protection. The signal box however has a higher level of heritage protection being one of only four wooden boxes of that type remaining in Victoria.

    The State Government plans to remove the Hudsons Rd level crossing to build a new Spotswood Station, and all published material indicates it will be a sky bridge similar to that completed at Coburg and Moreland. 

    It is unlikely that both existing station buildings will be untouched due to the constraints of both the site and the engineering required to support the raised tracks.

    One of the major issues facing the Hudsons Rd proposal is the steep gradient required to clear the West Gate Freeway bridges only a few hundred metres to the north. Aside from the electric and diesel trains on the line it would present an operational issue for Steamrail Victoria based at Newport which would be a major cultural loss. Another is that the site is much more constricted than either Coburg or Moreland which restricts the design of the new pedestrian plaza and affects the residents of Hope Street and Hall Street. 

    Coburg Station
    Above: Coburg Station showing the old and the new. Photo: Robert Taylor
    Moreland Station
    Below: Moreland Station with heritage building – a short section of the track is kept as a flower bed. Photo: Robert Taylor

    Coordination between Hobsons Bay Council, the Level Crossing Authority and The West Gate Tunnel Authority seems limited at best – witness the current works in Hall Street destined to be dug up again within 18 months for Sky Rail! I can only hope that the Craig Street Cycle Trail connecting to McLister Street and the Hudsons Rd upgrades to connect to Scienceworks are incorporated. Interestingly the West Gate Tunnel Authority traffic flows for the area show Hall Street as a two-way street carrying traffic from their current Simcock Avenue Freeway on-ramp rather than the pedestrian plaza leading to Stony Creek Backwash. 

    A major fault noted at North Williamstown as well as Coburg and Moreland – and indeed many of the new stations – is that the station is inevitably placed to one side which maintains heavy pedestrian traffic at street level across busy roads requiring traffic lights. One suggestion is to place the new raised station above the crossing with pedestrian access from both north and south. 

    Both Moreland and Coburg are successful new stations, with Coburg Council leasing the heritage station for art displays and installations. The Moreland heritage station is sadly disused so hopefully the Hobsons Bay Council will also find a practical use for the local community. Overall there will be unavoidable disruption with major infrastructure reform. We locals have to make sure that the end product is worth it. 

    Robert is a long-time Spotswood resident (since 1992)

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