Why is the Station House called the Station House?

The name ‘Station House’ often confuses people. What has this building, which houses the Mt Evelyn Reading Room and Community House, to do with a station? When Mt Evelyn was a stop on the Lilydale to Warburton railway line, this was the Stationmaster’s residence.

The first train came through on 13 November 1901, when the station was an Unattended Platform. At 728 feet (approximately 240m), this was the highest point on the line between Lilydale and Warburton. The town grew up around the station, so we have the railway to thank for the town’s location on this spot. The station was originally called ‘Olinda Vale’, changing to ‘Evelyn’on 2 December 1907 and ‘Mount Evelyn’ in April/May 1919.

Between 1903 and 1907 W. Wykes was appointed Officer in Charge, followed by Fitzgerald (Assistant Station Master) in 1910. In Fitzgerald’s time Evelyn was made a Safeworking (signalling) station. He was presented with a pair of field glasses in appreciation of his beautification of the platform at a gathering at the State School in 1912.

In 1911 Edwin A. Werland was paid £580/4/9 to erect a Stationmaster’s Residence, with Mr C. O’Connor installed as Stationmaster by 1913. A photo from c.1915 shows the Station House as a rectangular building with two internal chimneys, a water tank and what is probably the ‘dunny’. A bush house built by O’Connor as part of the award-winning garden can also be seen in the photo.

The Station House c1915
The Station House c1915

Stationmasters at Evelyn/Mt Evelyn were: C. (Malachy) O’Connor, John (Billy) Bain, Jack Rahilly, David Little and J.A. Paterson.

To be appointed a Stationmaster, you needed to:
1. be aged at least 21
2. pass the written, three-day Stationmaster’s exam
3. pass the Interlocked Signalling Frame exam
4. hold a Three-Class Telegraph Certificate
5. hold a First Aid Certificate
6. hold a Ticket Checker’s Certificate
7. hold appropriate Safeworking Certificates

Our last Stationmaster was Mr J.A. Paterson, who served in the position from 1942 to 1955. During his time,Mt Evelyn Station was seven times awarded First Prize in the Metropolitan District for Management, Maintenance and Tree-planting in the Non-piped Water section.

On 9 March 1955, Mt Evelyn Station closed as an Electric Staff system. Mr Paterson ceased as Stationmaster on 12 May. Mrs Robert Joseph Allen was appointed caretaker of Mt Evelyn as a Caretaker Station. She was followed by Mrs A.S. Fletcher who served as caretaker until the line closed.

Second last train running to Warburton
The second last train from Lilydale to Warburton on Sunday August 1st 1965, run by the Australian Railway Historical Society.

The line was closed to ordinary traffic on 29 July 1965. The Victorian Branch of the Australian Railway Historical Society organised a special train, which ran on Sunday 1 August, to mark the closure of the Warburton line. The last train ran on 2 August, picking up station equipment and other departmental goods. The tracks were removed and the station dismantled. The central part of the platform was demolished to make way for the car park.

Railway station to Library
Railway station to Library sketch.

On 1 January 1972 the Residence was sold for $200 to C. W. Anderson, who leased the land under it for $40 a year. The building was later sold to the Shire of Lillydale. It was renovated and extended to house the Mt Evelyn Library, with the addition of the tall pointed windows and the front porch. The Library opened on 13 December 1986. The café section and the covered deck were added in 2009, one of the original fireplaces being uncovered during the alterations. One chimney survives.

Station House and Mt Evelyn Library
Mt Evelyn Library, photo by Sandy Berthelson

When the Community Link moved into the building in 2009, a decision was made to retain the name ‘The Station House’ as a link to its railway history. The building has had many uses since the railway closed: Library and Community Room, Community Link, Exhibition Space, Café, Mt Evelyn Community House and Reading Room.

The land is part of the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail (handed over from the Public Transport Corporation to the Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands on 11 August 1996). Since the Yarra Ranges Council is now the Committee of Management for the Rail Trail, there is no problem at present with the building and the land being on different titles.

The Station House is 106 years old; the Library was 30 years old in December last year. Along with other features along the Rail Trail, the Station House is listed on the Yarra Ranges Heritage Register.

Mount Evelyn History Group