Heritage-listed railway gatekeeper's cottage up for sale in Springwood

Helen Harris of Chapman Real Estate outside Brady's Crossing in Springwood.
Helen Harris of Chapman Real Estate outside Brady's Crossing in Springwood.

It was the scene of a dramatic mercy dash that averted a train crash more than 100 years ago, and now the historic Springwood property at the centre of the incident will be someone's new home.

Built in 1867 as a railway gatekeeper's cottage, Brady's Crossing went on the market this month, listed as "an incredibly rare find".

But the sandstone property made headlines in 1893 when the gatekeeper, Mrs Julia Brady, averted a disaster after a horse and dray became trapped on the track with a train approaching.

It was a Thursday afternoon when a horse, drawing an empty dray, was startled by a noise and bolted towards the gatehouse. It attempted to jump the gate but instead became entangled in the wreckage.

"Mrs Brady, the gatekeeper, here showed great presence of mind, and by her timely action prevented what might have proved a serious railway accident," reported The Nepean Times.

The mother-of-eight ran ahead "up the hill with all her might to warn the train". Brandishing a flag, she met the train just as it emerged under the Hawkesbury Road Bridge and it was able to stop in time.

Brady's Crossing is one five remaining gatekeeper's cottages from 12 built across the Mountains. It is one of only two to have the original sandstone privy.

"These cottages were once a common sight as accommodation for pointsmen on the railway zig zags, for gatekeepers at level crossings and for stationmasters at several stations but are now very rare," said railway historian Rob Deves.

"The gatekeeper's cottages in particular really characterise the story of the Mountains - being located at places where the Great Western Railway intersected the 1815-built Cox's Road.

"Interestingly, most gatekeepers were women and - being a paid job - decent paid employment for women was not so common in the 1860s."

The property at 7 Macquarie Road has three bedrooms and two living areas, with the heritage-listed sandstone cottage complemented by a modern extension.

The property was listed with a guide price of $790,000 to $840,000, with an offer already accepted.

"These unique character properties are an absolute privilege to take to the market," said agent Helen Harris of Chapman Real Estate.

"It's the original features that everyone loves, from the sandstone walls, double-hung windows - some with 19th century glass - and hardwood timber flooring. Even the roof sheets are pretty amazing."

The property has attracted local buyers with "emotional ties to the history of the area" but also out-of-area interest drawn by its potential as a Air BnB or weekender.

Mrs Harris said NSW investors are narrowing their property searches within the state, a trend brought about by uncertainty over COVID-19 border closures.

"We are seeing a massive amount of people who are investing [in real estate] within the state, given what's happening. People who might have previously bought in Queensland or Tasmania are now focusing their searches just in New South Wales."

She said there was a growing trend of city buyers valuing space more highly in their real estate searches, a move accelerated by the NBN's rollout in the Blue Mountains and by more people working from home.

"People are selling up in the city and coming out here. We have hundreds of buyers on our books looking to buy here after selling up in the city," she said.

"It's about the quality of life we have here in the Mountains... but also it's about the NBN and the different ways of working now. Even if you are CBD-based, you no longer have to be there five days a week anymore."