Central Railway is one of Sydney’s architectural landmarks and has been serving the city since 1906. It is Australia’s largest railway station and, on average, over 90,000 people arrive/depart daily.
Up to 38 trains come and go every hour and there are 25 platforms. If you have some time to kill, wander to Platform One (western end) and take a look at the marble by the entrance and you might spot a small bullet hole. This is the only physical reminder of the Battle of Central Station in 1916. A bunch of soldiers decided to protest against conditions in their barracks and, after raiding hotels in Liverpool, commandeered trains to Central. On arrival they set about tearing the station apart, which whistled in the military police resulting in one rioter shot dead and several others injured. The riot also impacted on social norms for some time because it was a major reason for introducing 6:00pm pub closure. This lasted until 1955. Those protesting about the new 3:00am licensing laws wouldn’t be able to imagine – or that Sunday trading didn’t come in until then Premier Neville Wran allowed it in 1979.
But back to Central Railway… before the current station was built, the main station was known as Redfern – and Redfern station still exists today. It is the one before Central and most trains still stop there, which gave rise to the parochial colloquial term for coitus interruptus as a form of contraception, “to get off at Redfern”… just not quite going all the way.
Another well-known Sydney saying that originated from public transport is to “shoot through like a Bondi tram”. While construction for an Eastern Suburbs railway line began from Central in 1948 it wasn’t completed until 1979 so public transport until then was only by bus or tram (until 1961). During peak hour times express trams operated and didn’t stop at Paddington, and a local came up with the phrase.
The top photo shows the young Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip boarding a Royal Train at Central in 1954 heading off to visit regional New South Wales.
Central Railway is handy to many of Sydney’s main attractions in the CBD and Darling Harbour as is Rydges Sydney Central for all your accommodation needs.