The Toowoomba Railway Goods Shed: The Reconstruction and Preservation of Heritage Timber Structures
Bligh Tanner’s involvement with the Toowoomba Railway Good Shed has extended for over a ten year period.
Bligh Tanner’s history with the Goods Shed
Our initial involvement with the building started back in 2008, with a structural condition assessment. Over the next ten years Bligh Tanner continued to undertake heritage specialist consultations, which finally culminated into a full repair of the building that was completed in 2018. By 2019 it was returned back into an operational and serviceable state.
The outstanding achievement of the project team involved in this complex heritage restoration project was recently acknowledged within the engineering community when it became a finalist in the 2020 Australian Engineers Excellence Awards.
Five steps back into the Good Shed
- The 130-year-old building is 120m in length and 22m in width.
- The apex of the roof extends to 11m in height.
- The building has been extended and modified at least 3 times over its lifespan and has been completely constructed using timber.
- The main superstructure of the building involves the use of regular timber trusses positioned at approximately 4000mm centres.
- The building was originally owned and operated by Queensland Rail, however in recent years has been handed over to Toowoomba Region Council and now with restoration works completed forms a key component to the first stage of the Toowoomba Railway Parklands Master Plan.
The restoration of the Goods Shed
Bligh Tanner was proud to deliver the Structural and Heritage Engineering services for this project.
We worked in close consultation with Sims White Architects, Converge and the Toowoomba Regional Council to develop suitable repairs and restoration outcomes. A unique challenge was to not only repair and restore the original structure back into serviceable condition, but to strengthen it to meet current standards and a higher importance level with the capacity to accommodate crowds if required.
The $10 million project was jointly funded by Toowoomba Regional Council and the Queensland State Government and is the largest timber heritage restoration project that Bligh Tanner has undertaken to date.
The shear size of the building and the extent of the number of repairs was incredibly daunting. The building prior to commencing construction was unsafe to occupy as it was in an advanced state of decay with termite damage throughout. The extent of the restoration works included:
- Over 500 new hardwood and softwood large timber members were required to be replaced in the building, many of these timbers up to 300 x 150 mm in cross section.
- All foundations within the building that support the main structure of the building were required to be repaired and replaced while the building remain in place
- The entire extents of the Loading platforms required reconstruction while attempting to us as much of the original structural decking and fabric as possible.
- Over 2000 new carefully designed and detailed connections were installed within the building. Each connection was reviewed and approved by Converge Heritage consultants for the projects.
Bligh Tanner’s Contribution
Bligh Tanner has an impressive track record with providing expert structural engineering restoration services on heritage projects, such as the Picnic Bay Jetty which was extensively damaged as a result of cyclone Yasi and the restoration of the Albert Street Church roof. We drew on our past experience in working with these large complex projects to progressively work through the entire structure and identify all repairs and strengthening works required.
As part of delivery of the project documentation, Bligh Tanner built an entire structural model which included every structural member within the building. This allowed for clear identification of all repairs that were required to be completed. Bligh Tanner has utilized structural models for similar restoration projects in the past and found that the benefits of 3D visualization and fly-through are invaluable when preparing and completing the final construction documentation.
Bligh Tanner is proud to have been involved in this significant project, which has been designed to continue to service the Toowoomba Region for the next century.