Thursday 13 July 2023

Wagga Wagga Station Master Residence


Wagga Wagga SM residence - Plans


Sometimes one gets some information, that causes a change of focus.   Such is the case with the Wagga Wagga Station Master Residence.

Photo taken from the footbridge.  Wagga's SM residence is an impressive 2 storey structure, now used as a private residence

I had always known that this building was a must for the Wagga layout, although it wasn’t a priority.  This all changed recently.  The June 2023 Australian Railway History had a long article by Jim Longworth on the Main southern line construction, and a further article on Gerogery station by Chris Banger has a plan of the SM residence there.

Scanned image of Gerogery SM residence from the June ARH article by Chris Banger.  Unfortunately, the dimensions shown were not able to be read, due to the small size of the image in the ARH magazine

The Gerogery SM residence was built around  1880, and was very similar to Wagga Wagga SM residence. 

Aerial view of the Gerogery SM residence.

 The design was also used for Culcairn

Culcairn SM residence

Sixmap view of Wagga's SM residence.  The design matches the Gerogery plans, and comparing the aerial images shows that unique additions were done to all 3 residences.  Sixmaps also provides a scale which is a useful tool for estimating dimensions on the structure

The other factor, that really dictated the change of plans was that my Taubmanns “Bamboo Cane” colour sample pot bought at Bunnings was starting to go off, and this colour is the colour I want for the Wagga SM residence, as used on the Wagga station, as well as the Docker Street gatekeeper cottage made last month.

If I can build the residence quickly, and use the paint before it becomes unusable, it would save around $9 cost to get a new sample pot of the paint.  Every dollar counts

The above 3 pictures taken from the public walkway that passes to the north around 3 years ago.  Unfortunately, the path doesn't give access further than around half way, and the details of the Western wall are hidden.  Note the simularity in the paint colour with the paint I used on the Gatekeeper cottage (2 blog posts ago)

This picture was taken in 2006 from the footbridge - and it is a view now impossible to reproduce, as the boundary trees now have grown to obscure the residence.  


Making the Plan

Before I commit to cutting styrene, I needed to make plans of the SM residence

The Gerogery SM plan in the June ARH was little more than a thumbnail, and when enlarged, the dimensions were impossible to read.  This was a problem to scale the plan to HO. 

Sixmaps aerial view of Wagga Wagga (better resolution than Google)  gave a scale to see the dimensions of the roof, although the roof edges of the image are a bit fuzzy.  However, from that measurement, it was possible to compute the height of the walls.

With that knowledge, I could have then enlarged the Gerogery plan to HO, and maybe that would have worked, but there were some “funnies” in the plan that didn’t make sense.  One of them was an inconsistency in the roof – the ridgeline wasn’t in the middle of the roof, and the rear wall and the right hand side wall were different widths.  .The aerial view of the roof seemed to confirm the plan. 

The plans also didn’t match my pictures taken of the residence, taken over the years.  The add-ons, and the chimney heights also were different.

So, I thought I would draw up the plans in HO, something that I did for the gatekeeper cottage

After starting the drawing (and making a lot of drafting errors), I remembered that Wagga City council had an online website, containing high resolution aerial images.  Just a quick look at the roof of the SM residence showed much more detail.  And the 2016 image gave a hint of the previously hidden western (rear) wall.  It also had a better scale than six-maps, and a remeasure of the roof dimensions showed up a small error in my original scale. 

Wagga City Council 2016 image. There is a hint of the Western aspect walls, but not enough to not have to guess

Wagga City Council 2020 image.  The trees had been removed on the Western side, but the shade sails still obscured part of the building.

So the plans were redrawn.

My third attempt of the plans were scaled HO, but included some guesses as to the backyard

And I still had a problem.

The rear side of the SM residence was an educated guess.  So, my idea would be to make the cottage in subassemblies – with the extra constructions added over the years, made as a subassembly that could be reworked if better information comes to hand

Site Visit - 12th July.

Just as I was prepared to publish this blogpost, I got word that a new booklet of the Tumbarumba Branch was just produced, and copies were available at the Rail Heritage museum at Wagga station.  As I had to travel to Wagga for a medical, it made sense to go via the Museum to collect the book.  And whilst I was there, I would have another attempt to get pictures of the rear of the SM residence.

Well, my luck was in.  The occupants of the Residence were in the backyard, and a quick discussion gave me permission to actually view the rear.  I did take a couple of pictures for my reference, but for privacy reasons, I will not include them on my blog.  However, I now have the information I needed to correct my plans.

And rather than redraw the plans (again) in full, I would just cover the wrong bits with paper, redraw that area, and rescan.  Each sheet was on A4

About the only guess I got right was the door, and window on the end of the extension

There is also a lot of pipework, and other details that I have not drawn - but I plan to add these during the construction of my model


I suspect all of this would have been a lot easier if I had drafted my plans on computer, using say, Corel draw.  I bought Version 12 of Corel a long time ago, but never learnt the package.  A skill in Corel is something that could be used to replicate the lacy ironwork on the front, similar to Ross Balderson’s efforts with the Wagga Wagga station model. 

My version of the plans does not have the roof inconsistency, as to try and replicate that exactly would just complicate my model build.  It is a compromise I can live with.



After sending out my preliminary sketches, I got an email from Bob (with thanks), with a number of TIF files showing the SM residence at Wellington, NSW.  Very similar to Gerogery's SM residence plans, although some differences with the chimneys.  But the Wellington plan has clear dimensions, and could have saved a lot of guesswork.  The Wellington plan also has the roof inconsistency….anyone want to comment?

Wellington NSW SM Residence.  A lot of similarity with the Gerogery plan, although the chimney locations differ.  Wellington SM residence appears to have been demolished

And, I would like to know the thinking in 1880 as to why Gerogery station gets a grand SM residence,  Gerogery was only ever a small village, and as far as I am aware, not going to be a junction station with branchlines, unlike Culcairn just to the north.


The SM residence is going to be a lot larger than I had initially envisaged, but I still hope I can fit it onto the Wagga station baseboard area.

Now to start cutting styrene.

Until next time