Pomona is one of a string of ‘tree change’ railway towns in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Eumundi, Cooroy and Cooran are among our neighbours. Each village retains its own identity.
The history of the station master’s house and railway at Pomona can be traced back to the early days of European settlement. This history is part of transformation that occurred in the late 1800’s as a result of gold being discovered at Gympie by James Nash in 1867.
In 1910 the Noosa Shire Council was established, with Pomona as the centre of administration and location of the shire office. As rail services continued to improve, Pomona became recognised as a major district railway centre requiring the provision of quarters for rail employees.
The then Railway Department constructed the station master’s house and a number of other buildings serving rail passengers and the needs of local farmers who used the railways to transport produce to markets. A dairy factory at Pomona was an important customer for the railways. It is believed that the station master’s house was first occupied some time after 1910.
The building still remains intact today and in the same position, with minimal alterations having been carried out since it was first constructed. It has been part of Pomona’s history, having seen two world wars, while its residents have come and gone as part of their duty to the Railway Department.
By the end of the 1960s changes took place that would alter the railway forever. By the mid-1970s, the great steam era had come to an end and the diesel locomotive prevailed. The Department first removed the water filling stations and coal facilities. Then the signaling system was overhauled, resulting in automatic gates over the town railway crossing, thus doing away with the gatekeeper who had been vigilant over the years
During the 1970s rail freight dwindled. Meanwhile, passenger rail services went into decline due to the popularity of the family car and the semi-trailer. Fewer sales representatives arrived by train to stay at the surviving hotel. The Railway Department embarked on a major rationalization, which included an upgrade to electric rail and the sale of many railway buildings.
The last Pomona station master finished duty in mid 1991 and the building became redundant. Noosa Council moved to acquire the land and building to ensure that ownership was retained by the community. In August 1993, Noosa Council acquired the property for $90,000. Shortly thereafter, Councillor Doug Bettens initiated a public meeting to gauge community support for a community centre and in November 1995 a steering committee was formed under his guidance.
The steering committee later formed the Pomona and District Community House Inc. and entered into an agreement with Noosa Council on 4th July 1996 to operate the station master’s house as the Pomona and District Community House Inc.
The House sits adjacent to the main intersection in the middle of town, opposite the ANZ bank building. It now incorporates the Lawson Shed, built in harmony with the colonial architecture so evident throughout Pomona. This spacious building offers much-needed additional space for the ever expanding programs and activities managed by the House committee and staff.
The shed is the culmination of a seven-year campaign to expand the physical space of the House precinct in response to the growth in population for Pomona and Cooran, which grew 111 percent and 225 per cent respectively between 2001 and 2006.
Activities ranging from computer training and internet access to pottery and leadlight classes, scrapbooking, seminars, cooking classes, all types of crafts, youth mentoring and job training can be accommodated.
The design was modified many times by honorary manager at Community House and Project Manager, Brian Lawson, over six years in an attempt to secure funding for construction. Finally, it was decided to construct a building using just $129,000 allocated by the former Noosa Council and $20,000 from the Queensland Department of Communities.
The solution came as a steel frame kit home modified to suit our needs.
To have the building constructed we went public to our local community via our monthly newspaper, the Cooroora Connect, asking for anyone with trades skills willing to donate their time. A fabulous fraternity of tradespeople came forward. With local businesses donating some of the materials, the House was able to upgrade what was a basic building into a functional work and meeting space incorporating a kitchen and three meeting rooms.
Construction began in October 2010, with the finished structure opened by the Mayor of the Sunshine Coast and former Noosa Mayor, Bob Abbot, on Friday 13 May 2011.
The building was named the ‘Lawson Shed’ in honour of Brian Lawson’s passion and determination over seven years to make the dream become a reality.