EXCAVATION work in the former Newcastle rail corridor has uncovered the well-preserved remains of one of the oldest working railway stations in the Hunter.
Two sandstone walls – located between the Hunter New England Health headquarters on Hunter Street and a Honeysuckle Drive office block – were found just below the surface about two weeks ago.
The incredible discovery is believed to be remains of platforms belonging to the second Honeysuckle railway station, which was built in 1872.
The walls were unearthed as part of works to remove redundant infrastructure in the former rail corridor in preparation for the light rail project.
An environmental protection zone has been established around the walls and the Office of Environment and Heritage has been notified.
Workers have been relocated elsewhere along the rail corridor while an investigation and a decision is made on the future of the former platform.
But the discovery has already prompted a call for the walls to be retained because of their historical significance.
Respected Newcastle archaeologist Paul Rheinberger said the artefacts were culturally important to the region and cautioned against removing them.
“It is a very significant find and goes back to the site of one of the oldest working stations in the Hunter,” he said on Monday.
“I believe there is no reason why it shouldn’t be preserved for the entire community to see.”
Mr Rheinberger was on the team of archaeologists who worked on the 2006 excavation of the stationmaster’s residence on the current site of Hunter New England Health.
That dig, which was directly east of the site of the former Palais Royal, now a KFC, is just metres from where the walls were found.
“It’s an incredibly important site and part of our railway history,” Mr Rheinberger said.
The archaeologist suggested future light rail could run between the two walls and become an icon of the project.
“It would be very little expense to keep them, and I wouldn’t think it would be too much of a delay,” Mr Rheinberger said.
Honeysuckle station was demolished in 1936 when Wickham and Civic stations were opened.