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The NSW Colonial government acquired the eastern part of the Newington Estate in 1882 for a powder magazine. It came into service in 1897. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) took over the site in 1906 and it then became known as Newington Armaments Depot. 

There was a major expansion of the site during World War 2. In 1941 a further 38 hectares were acquired for Newington Armaments Depot. Additional magazines were constructed for the US Navy and the Royal Navy as support facilities for the US and British Pacific Fleets. It is presumed this construction was carried out by the Civil Construction Corps (CCC). The Armaments Depot  then covered more than 250 acres. 

There were 185 buildings on the site, as well as a wharf and a narrow-gauge electric railway. At that time it was located in the suburb of Ermington near Silverwater. I believe the site was eventually taken over in connection with the development of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games site and the new residential suburb of Newington.

In about 1985, civil engineer, John Schubert, with the Commonwealth Department of Construction, was required to prepare engineering proposals for the upgrading of the narrow-gauge railway system at Newington for transporting munitions from the wharf to certain magazines and generally around the site. John visited the site and carried out an inspection of the railway system and certain magazines. At that time battery-operated engines were being used to power the small rail cars. John inspected the magazines and the battery charging house. 

The proposed upgrade of the railway did not proceed, partly, because of concerns about the armaments being stored near residential areas.  The RAN found an alternative site at Jervis Bay.

John Schubert's father, Alan Quiggin Schubert, a member of the Civil Construction Corps (CCC), worked at Newington during WW2. John was not aware of the details of the works on which his father worked, but he believes they included the construction or upgrade of facilities there, such as the wharf on the Parramatta River, the buildings and the armaments magazines.

The magazines were arch-shaped structures, apparently of reinforced concrete, built mainly into the sides of low hills (possibly man-made), and covered with many feet of soil topped with grass. So they were partly below ground and partly above ground. This design reflects the desirability of preventing an explosion in one magazine causing another explosion in adjacent magazines.



I'd like to thank John Schubert from Sydney for his assistance with this web page.


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 Peter Dunn 2015


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This page first produced 2 May 2005

This page last updated 18 January 2020