Today in Transportation History – 1880: The Cornerstone of a Regional Railway Station is Set in Perth

A ceremony was held to lay the foundation stone for a new railway station in Western Australia’s city of Perth. This Monday afternoon event, however, received a decidedly lackluster review from the region’s Herald newspaper.

“There was a very small attendance of the public, there being scarcely any persons present but officials and children,” reported the newspaper. “This was in consequence of the neglect of those who had charge of the arrangement to let people know what was going to be done.” The article also asserted, “There was not a placard on the walls nor a notice in the shop windows nor did one person in a hundred know anything about it till after it was all over.”

Despite this unimpressive start, construction on the railway station proceeded smoothly and the facility was opened in March of the following year to serve the segment of the Eastern Railway operating between the Perth suburb of Guildford and the city of Fremantle. The Perth railway station has been upgraded and expanded numerous times to continue serving a vital transportation hub in that part of Australia. The station was the headquarters of the Western Australian Government Railways for several decades. In addition, the building is now the largest station on the region’s Transperth urban passenger rail system; it also serves as a major interchange for Transwa’s Australind passenger rail service between Perth and the city of Bunbury.

George_Thomas_Temple_PooleGeorge Temple-Poole, who achieved renown as one of Western Australia’s most important architects, designed the Perth railway station. Poole had been born in Rome, Italy, in 1856; his father was a lieutenant colonel in the British Army. After studying at Winchester College in England, Poole embarked on his engineering career. He took part in construction projects in England and Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) before being appointed to the Public Works Department in Western Australia.

Poole, who ultimately became Principal Architect for Western Australia, made significant contributions to construction projects at a time when the region was experiencing dramatic growth. He designed a wide array of infrastructure, with his transportation-oriented creations including not only railway stations but also bridges and lighthouses.

Poole also became one of Perth’s most prominent citizens. As the West Australian newspaper stated at the time of his death in 1934, “In addition to being an architect, Mr. Poole was a watercolour artist and he contributed illustrations to various publications.” The article also noted, “He was a brilliant after-dinner speaker.”

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