In 1932, The NSW Railways installed the first escalators for the deep underground stations at Wynyard and Town Hall. After 60 years of operation, the last wooden escalators in Sydney’s Town Hall and Wynyard were retired. What makes this story unique is that these escalators were the innovative technology of their time and served the city up until 2017. The beautifully designed ‘moving stairs’ (as they were once known) had transported hundreds of thousands of people from the underground platforms for over half a century.
The Town Hall and Wynyard escalators were historically significant because they were 6 of the 7 oldest operating wooden escalators used in the railway system in the world; the last one still in operation is in San Jose Station in Buenos Aires. They were an active and well-preserved connection to our past, thanks to the Sydney Trains maintenance crews who kept them running safely beyond their lifespan. Due to modern safety and accessibility standards, the decision was made to remove the historic escalators and replace them with modern versions. At the same time there was a desire to capture and celebrate their heritage value.
Sydney Trains approached Art of Multimedia to capture the history of this exemplar of rail heritage and its impact on Sydney-siders over the years and keep the stories etched in the hearts and minds of the future generations.
The documentary film and historical report captures the perspectives of Sydney Trains staff along with heritage experts’ views to weave an absorbing narrative through motion graphics enhanced historical images, archival and contemporary footage of the use, maintenance and final days of the wooden escalators, culminating with images of the Interloop, the interpretive artwork installation at Wynyard.
Escalation Sensation was a finalist in the ‘Resources and Publications’ category of the 2018 National Trust Heritage Awards.
"I am most proud of recording a piece of Sydney’s history, and sensory experience, which otherwise would have been lost.
Project stakeholders, customers and community were very impressed with the result and continue to request copies of the booklet for their friends and family. It’s amazing how many people are connected to these escalators!,"
Gretta Logue, Heritage Specialist, Environment Division, Sydney Trains