From convict huts to a fire-ravaged theatre, Parramatta Metro Station site is a wealth of history
Heritage investigations at the Parramatta Metro Station site have been ongoing since March 2022 and are now more than 50 per cent complete.
A 23,000 square-metre area, equivalent in size to almost six football fields, where the future metro station precinct will be located, is carefully being sifted through by a team of 50 archaeologists, Aboriginal representatives and specialists with nearly 100,000 artefacts discovered to date.
Evidence found shows how the site has evolved over time – from a wetland area used by Aboriginal communities to an agricultural and convict settlement, into a free-market town and then an urban centre during the 19th century before its evolution into the city it is today.
The Parramatta Metro Station site includes five ‘convict hut allotments’—four on George Street and one on Church Street.
The huts on George Street are two-room timber structures measuring 3.65 metres wide and 7.31 metres long, with a thatched roof and a brick chimney. The huts were meant to accommodate 10 men, though sometimes there were 14 living in them.
A hut uncovered on Church Street is thought to have been designed specifically for unmarried women convicts and is believed to have been built in 1792.
In 1823, Parramatta became a free-market town and the site had a mix of residential, retail and manufacturing uses and included cottages, boarding houses and various shops.
During the 1870s, the site became the location for Robert Adam Ritchie’s Iron Works where goods carriages and rolling stock was manufactured for the three railway lines operating in NSW at the time.
The new Friendly Society’s Hall on George Street officially opened on 24 May 1883 with a grand gala day. The hall, located next to the Roxy Theatre, was known as the Victoria Theatre and many remnants of the building have been uncovered at the site, including evidence the building was gutted by fire. Records show the roof and building both collapsed after a blaze in 1939.
By the 20th century, the site was a vibrant urban centre used predominantly for commercial and retail, with local shopping centre Parramall located along George Street.
The site will now transform into a metro station, one of nine on the Sydney Metro West line that will double rail capacity between Greater Parramatta and the Sydney CBD.
For more information on Parramatta Metro Station visit: Parramatta Metro Station
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