Railway Worker's Cottage


City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder

Place Number



22 Forrest St Kalgoorlie

Location Details

22 Forrest St

Other Name(s)

22 Forrest Street: Plate Layer's Cottage
Per Way Cottage

Local Government




Construction Date

Constructed from 1897

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents
State Register Permanent 20 Feb 2004 HCWebsite.Listing+ListingDocument, HCWebsite.Listing+ListingDocument

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management
Register of the National Estate Interim 21 Oct 1980
Classified by the National Trust Classified 13 Jun 1978
Municipal Inventory Adopted 09 Jul 2001 Category 2

Statement of Significance

The residence has historic value for its association with the development of the town's railway system and the vital role the railway played in the settlement and development of Kalgoorlie. The residence is the earliest remaining example of permanent railway employee housing in Kalgoorlie. The value of the residence is enhanced as a component of an historic railway precinct comprising the adjacent Station Master's House and Workman's Cottage (Forrest House) and the Kalgoorlie Railway Station.

Physical Description

: A simple two roomed stone building with a stone chimney, gable roof, and a separate verandah roof across the facade. The original building is intact. Early corrugated iron clad extensions demonstrate how the building continued to evolve and provide for railway workers. Another period of development includes the integration of a railway cabin


The residence was constructed for a railway worker - a perway worker. General Comments on the Railway: The discovery of gold at Southern Cross and the subsequent declaration of the area as the Yilgarn goldfield in 1888, had prompted the State Government to commence construction of a railway to serve the area. The line, known as the Yilgarn Railway, began at the head of the Eastern Railway at Northam (the name “Yilgarn Railway’ was replaced with ‘Eastern Goldfields Railway’ in 1899-1900 (WAGR Annual Report, 1900: 2), and included, at that time, the lines from Northam to Kalgoorlie, the Boulder Loopline Railway, and the lines from Kalgoorlie to Kanowna and Menzies). Before the line had reached Southern Cross however, the Coolgardie, and then Kalgoorlie, gold finds were made. The line to Southern Cross was opened on 1 July 1894, and tenders were called for the construction of the line from Southern Cross to Coolgardie. The Wilkie Brothers won the contract with a price of £64,000 compared to the next closest tender of £150,000. The Wilkies gambled on finishing the line quickly and then making money operating it until it was time to hand over to the Government. Handover time was set at November 1896 (Gunzberg and Austin, 1997: 206; Le Page, n.d.: 221-225; Webb, 1993: 208-211). At this point, there was no intention to extend the line to Kalgoorlie, but the Kalgoorlie Miner and local mine owners and businessmen began a campaign to have the line taken the extra 24 miles. Plans were already underway to construct a branch line to Menzies, and both Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie were vying to be the junction for this line and thus become the centre of the railway system and the centre of the eastern goldfields. One argument for the extension was that it would allow the import of heavy machinery for the opening up of deep mines on the Golden Mile (Wilson, 1977: 173; Webb, 1993: 208-211 and 288-293). In September 1895, a bill was passed to extend the railway line to Kalgoorlie. The Wilkie Brothers were contracted to immediately continue on when the line reached Coolgardie, which it did on 23 March 1896. The railway line reached Kalgoorlie on 8 September 1896. Included in the contract for the Eastern Goldfields line was the construction of railway station buildings, but the Wilkies had been so busy operating the line for maximum profit that almost all the ballasting and most of the station buildings and goods sheds were still to be constructed, including Kalgoorlie Railway Station. Official handover of the railway line was affected on 31 December 1896 (or 1 January 1897) (Note: various dates are reported for this handover depending on the source. It is not always clear what is being handed over, eg. section of line, entire line, station, etc. Dates can vary by months, but these two dates appear to refer to the station (sources are local histories, and ‘A Brief History of the Western Australian Government Railways, WAGR, 1975). The Government transferred staff to Kalgoorlie on 31 December ready to take up their new duties at Kalgoorlie Railway Station, but a report in the Morning Herald of 1 January 1897 stated that ‘in regard to the accommodation of the Government staff, it will take another fortnight at least before the new railway station is completed’ (Webb, 1993: 303; Gunzberg and Austin, 1997: 238). In 1897, less than twelve months after the line was opened, it was reported in the Annual Report of the Railways Department that traffic to the goldfields ‘had largely increased’, and duplication of the line from Northam to Kalgoorlie was under consideration (Railway Department Annual Report, 1897: 19). By 1900, the Coolgardie/Kalgoorlie duplication was underway (Railway Department Annual Report, 1900: 17, 19 & 36). It was reported in 1900, that 80% of the traffic on the Eastern Goldfields line passed through Kalgoorlie. In 1904, there were 161 people employed at the Kalgoorlie Railway Yards, including forty-five in the Goods section, as compared to 431 in Perth and 239 at Fremantle (Railway Department Annual Report, 1904: 82). In 1920, decentralised control and supervision was introduced, with responsibility for the Eastern Goldfields line being transferred to Kalgoorlie (Railway Department Annual Report, 1902: 24). Kalgoorlie Railway Station has been extended and altered internally a number of times over the years, but few WAGR files have survived to document these changes. The traffic through the station considerably lessened after World War One when gold mining went into a decline. Later, road transport had an adverse impact on the place as it did on all rail services. A major change to Kalgoorlie Railway Station occurred when the standard gauge line to Perth was opened in 1968. Previous to this, passengers travelling between Perth and the eastern states had changed trains at Kalgoorlie, between the standard gauge line of the eastern states and the narrower West Australian gauge line. Following the construction of a standard gauge line through to Perth, Kalgoorlie Railway Station had less use and some of its services, including the Refreshment Room, were closed. All goods services were transferred to the West Kalgoorlie station at this time. In 2001, Kalgoorlie Railway Station is little used in comparison to its heyday. Two passenger trains utilise a small section of the long platform on a regular basis. The Prospector makes a daily round trip between Perth and Kalgoorlie, and the Indian Pacific passes through twice a week.


Integrity: High Authenticity: High




Ref ID No Ref Name Ref Source Ref Date
Le Page, J. S. H; "Building a State: The Story of the Public Works Department of Western Australia, 1829-1985". Perth, University of Western Australia Press, Perth. Undated
"Railway Department Annual Report". p.2, 17, 19 & 36 WAGR 1900
Webb M; "Golden Destiny: The Centenary History of Kalgoorlie–Boulder and the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia". p. 208-211, 288-293, 303 City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Kalgoorlie. 1993
Gunzberg, A. and Austin; "Rails Through the Bush". p. 206, 238 Light Railway Research Society of Australia, Melbourne. 1997
"Railway Department Annual Report". p.24 WAGR 1902
Wilson, H. H; "The Golden Miles". p.173 Rigby 1977

State Heritage Office library entries

Library Id Title Medium Year Of Publication
6945 Platelayer's cottage (former), 22 Forrest Street, Kalgoorlie : conservation management plan. Heritage Study {Cons'n Plan} 2004
5926 Images CD No. 9 : Wyalkatchem Station Masters House & various Kalgoorlie Railway Houses. C D Rom 2002
9935 Electricity generation, transmission and distribution in Western Australia: representation on the register of heritage places. Report 2007

Place Type

Individual Building or Group


Epoch General Specific
Original Use Transport\Communications Rail: Housing or Quarters
Present Use Transport\Communications Rail: Housing or Quarters

Architectural Styles

Federation Bungalow

Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Other TIMBER Other Timber
Wall TIMBER Weatherboard
Roof METAL Corrugated Iron
Other METAL Other Metal
Wall STONE Granite

Historic Themes

General Specific
TRANSPORT & COMMUNICATIONS Rail & light rail transport

Creation Date

25 Jul 1995

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

31 Dec 2016


This information is provided voluntarily as a public service. The information provided is made available in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. However, the information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information.