Last year 2013, Nepean District Historical Archaeology Group (NDHAG) was asked by Members of the Nepean Historical Society to investigate the footings of what looked like a small shed at Lapstone, near the old Zig Zag railway. This was also the route of the Western Highway, before the building of the M4 caused it to be closed to traffic, and know a walking track.The original request was to see if the footings had been a hut built by Leo Buring, and called the “Fort”. This building was known to be located somewhere above his vineyards, however the reason that he had built it, or its exact location is unknown.
NDHAG did a walk to the site with members of the Nepean Historical Society to see if we could find anything to prove whether it was the Fort or something else.The location of the remains seems to cancel it out as Leo Burings fort, as it appears to be too far away from his vineyards.
After clearing the area around the footings it was discovered it measured 10ft by 7ft. (3.048m x 2.1336m), the footings were approximately 4’’ wide; (10.16cm). The rough concrete footings still had bolts sticking out from the top, which would imply that timber walls or timber plates would have been bolted on.There was a doorway on the northern side which would have faced the old Zig Zag railway. In the interior of the building, in the South East corner, there is a hole approximately 2ft x 1ft (60cm x 30cm) dug into the ground to a depth of 18” (45cm). This had once been lined with plaster/render, as some still remains.
Several small pieces of tin were found in the bottom of the hole which could also have been lining. Some members thought this might have been a cool hole to store food, like an old style esky.
There were several other theories put forward.
The Archaeology group, after much searching through old records etc, thought that the structure was a pointsmen’s hut for the Zig Zag railway, as the size 10ft x 7ft appeared to fit the information that we had found.Several railway experts were asked to return with NDHAG which they were kind enough to do.
They said that a pointsman hut was the same size as this, and if it was used by a pointsman, the hut would be provided as shelter but the lever would have been outside.This does not mean that it was used as a pointsman hut, though it could have been used for storage or something else.
An expert on railway buildings will be available in October and we will ask his opinion of this building.