Industrial warehouse transformed into gala dinner

Newport Rail Workshop gala dinner for Cruise Express

Photography Ksenia Belova

The quirkiest, most unusual events often fall into our Good Day laps, like this gala dinner, to be held in the still-in-use railway workshops in Williamstown North, Melbourne.

A before and after transformation case study, we turned a literal dirty old industrial space into a fabulous, vintage extravaganza for the 80 guests of a Victorian and NSW rail tour. Wanna see how we transformed a coal and grease-filled warehouse into a gala dinner?  

The brief: vintage stateroom lux

Wonderful client Richard from Cruise Express had a strong vision for the event design; he wanted it to feel like a vintage cruise ship stateroom. So we worked our magic to create the concept.

he venue

Newport Rail Workshops

We’ve worked in some fantastic venues around Melbourne but Newport Rail Workshops is probably one of the best. Built from 1884-89, the workshops have so much history and are amazingly, still being used.

Soaring ceilings, gorgeous brickwork, and vintage trains aplenty, the spaces are massive, filled with industrial accouterments, coal, and multiple sets of train tracks so the trains can come in and out to be serviced and prepared for their trips.

Fab bones, but most def industrial and very literally dirty old warehouses! Not exactly the most obvious place for a fancy pants gala dinner. 


The Before

Clean, clean, clean!

The team at Steamrail were such legends, cleaning the workshop, covering the grease and oil puddles with kitty litter and moving gigantic train parts out of the main space so we could set up a long table. It took the team a few days of hard work before the space was ready for its transformation.

Let’s lay down a floor!

What do you do to get a 130-year-old warehouse ready for a 26m-long table and 80 chairs? You’ve gotta cover the three sets of recessed train tracks with an event floor. Once the floor was down, it was time to hoist the custom-made chandelier (made by us) using the warehouse crane. Sidenote: actual industrial machinery to rig things is a dream – they drove the crane right up to the truck and hoisted up the 2m cubed chandelier monstrosity like it ain’t no thing (because it weights nothing compared to giant steel train parts!)


Almost unrecognizable! Lux, cosy and unexpected, the gala dinner space was inviting and thrilling for the guests, who had a wonderful night. Our luxurious vintage velvet dining chairs, along with deco vases and Victoria era style flowers, lush velvet tablecloths and vintage crystal glassware really transformed the space.

We lit up the trains in the space too, and they created a wonderful perimeter for the dinner.