Monday, 31 December 2012


I cannot believe it's almost six months since I have done an entry - time flies - and too busy - but no excuses -  and this year it's back to regular entries.
We will start with an entry showing the station building at Cumnock, one of the over 140 precast concrete station buildings built between 1917 and 1932. This being one of 10 built on the Molong-Dubbo line in 1925, and opened with the line on 19 January 1925.
A quick out and back trip from Sydney between Christmas and New Year and many photos later the structure was suitably photographed. Below are a number of the photos of the building.
The SM's house is also precast concrete and this will be shown in a later blog.
The station building is 22.1 metres long and 3.8 metres wide. From the up end the rooms are Station Masters Office, Out of Room (which used to be the Waiting Room), Ladies Waiting Room (which became the Waiting Room), Ladies Toilet, Store Room and Mens Toliet. The building layout and size is similar to the A8 type common in the Sydney suburban area. Only two of this type were built of precast concrete, the other only 30 kilometres away at Yeoval - that building was demolished in the 1980s.
The Cumnock building while unoccupied for over 30 years is in reasonable condition but is beginning to deteriorate rapidly.
When opened, Cumnock had a pedestrian overbridge at the up end of the platform - of interest is that the bridge crossed to the down side of the line which was the opposite side to the town.
Cumnock was a crossing loop on the line, when opened with the automatic signalling, it was the third loop from Molong. Once the automatic signalling was dispensed with, only three years after the line was opened the two loops between Molong and Dubbo were removed and Cumnock became the first loop. This was the situation until the late 1970s and the actual crossing loop was removed on 24 Oct 1978. This was obviously the time when the line was rationalised as the SM's house was also sold in December 1978.

The station building from the down side of the line - the main line passed along this side. The footbridge was at the far right of the photo.
The station building from the up (loop) side of the line.
The up side of the station from the up end of the building The door at the end is the entry to the SM's office, the door to the right , the entry to the Waiting Room which was converted to the Out-of-Room.
The up side of the station from the up end of the building. From left to right - the window for the  SM's office, The door to the Out-of-Room, window of the Out-of-Room, window of the Ladies Waiting Room, Entry to the Ladies Waiting Room (to the left) and Ladies Toilet (to the right).
The up side of the station from the up end of the building. From left to right - window of the Ladies Waiting Room, Entry to the Ladies Waiting Room (to the left) and Ladies Toilet (to the right), window of the Ladies Toilet, window of the Store Room, window of the Gents Toilet.
Looking in the Up direction on the Up (Loop) side of the line
The Up end of the building taken from where the footbridge was located.
The Down (Main Line) side of the station from the Down end.
The brackets of the awning, note they are wider than the awning support - this is unusual for a precast building.
One of the many windows of the station building. Note the lower sash has two window panes while the upper sash has nine.
The Up side of the building with the door to the Out-of (Waiting) Room on the tight. Note the original stone colour scheme showing through.
Looking in the Down direction along the Up side of the building
The window to the ladies toilet on the Down side of the building
The window to the Gents toilet on the Down side of the building. Note the scalloping at the top is wider than the scalloping above the Ladies toliet window. The smaller scalloping is only seen on the two panels above the ladies toilet windows.
The two water tanks at the Down end of the building showing the entry to the Gents toilet.
The SM's office looking at the ticker window
The SM's office showing the bench and entry door - interestingly the door is on the loop side of the line and the office is at the other end of the building to the signal box - it being just off the Down end of the platform.
The ticket window from the office side.
The ticket window from the waiting room side.
The waiting room (converted to the out-of-room).
The waiting room (converted to the out-of-room).
The bracing for the awnings at the point where is crossed over. The cross over is required as the building is double sided - only this building and Yeoval had this arrangement.
The Ladies Waiting Room
The 'stove' vent in the ladies waiting room - note the wider vent in the roof cavity as the vent was also for the 'stove' in the waiting room.
Details of the vent in the Ladies Waiting Room
Detail of the seat in the Ladies Waiting Room
The entrance to the Ladies Waiting Room showing the light blue with darker blue highlights.
Interior of the Ladies Toilet showing the livery in one of the two cubicles. Note the pink livery - the Gents Toilets are blue and the timber doors - the Gents Toilet had corrugated iron on a tubular metal frame doors. The other cubicle has black walls.
The precast panel between the two cubicles in the Ladies Toilet.
The precast panel between the two cubicles in the Ladies Toilet.
The other cubicle with the black walls.
The vent in the ceiling of the Ladies Toilet.
The interior of the Gents toilet.
The top of the exterior modesty walls of the Gents toilet.
The centre panels of the modesty wall have been removed and this shows how the panels were secured.
The end of one of the removed panels.
The top of the entrance to the Gents toilet.
The bottom of the entrance to the Gents toilet.
Detail of the down end of the building.
The down side of the station from the down end of the building. From left to right, two windows in the Gents Toilet, door to the store room, two windows of the Ladies Toilet, window of the Ladies Waiting Room.
The down side of the station from the down end of the building. From left to right, door to the store room, two windows of the Ladies Toilet, window of the Ladies Waiting Room, door to the Ladies Waiting Room, window in the Waiting Room, door to the Waiting Room..
The down side of the station from the down end of the building. From left to right, window of the Ladies Waiting Room, door to the Ladies Waiting Room, window in the Waiting Room, door to the Waiting Room, window of the SM's office.
The down side of the station from the down end of the building. From left to right, door to the Waiting Room, window of the SM's office.
The Down side of the building
The Down side of the building showing the roof and awning join.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Sometimes NSWGR took their time

Been a while since an entry and I need to do something different from Water Tanks.......
Recently I was reading through the latest Eveleigh Press book - Steam Across the Border - there are two pictures of the northern (Up end) of The Rock on pages 57 and 65.
Both pictures were (as the caption says) taken in the early 1960s and they both had the signals for clearance from the Main and Loop onto the Westby line. Now this got me thinking as the Westby line closed in the mid-1950s and that the signals for the Westby line could not possibly exist five or six years after the line was closed.
My initial thoughts were that the date on the photo was incorrect - so off to the research files I went.

The Westby Line was one of NSW's shortest living lines - lasting only 32 years. The line opened on the August 1925 with stations at:
  • Birdlip (558.935km/250.8m)
  • Mangoplah (566.126km/263.0m)
  • Burrandana (579.722km/297.4m)
  • Pulletop (585.116km/315.1m)
  • Westby (591.946km/338.0m)
The line was built during the pre-cast concrete era and all stations except Pulletop had pre-cast station buildings - surprisingly three of them (Mangoplah, Burrandana and Westby) still survive. Following bushfires in the Pulletop area in the summer of 1952 the line was cut back to Mangoplah on 24 January 1952, the last train beyond Mangoplah being the weekly mixed on 16 January. Complete closure of the line came on 10 July 1956. Unusually this was the date of the act of parliament closing the line so presumably trains ceased following the 1955/56 wheat season. The exact date of the last train from The Rock is not known.
Anyway - back to the junction...

The Westby line joined the Main South at the north end of The Rock with an Up facing connection on the Down side of the line. The junction was operated from Frame E which was released by an Annett Key from Lever 12 in Frame A in the signal box.
Frame E's levers were:
  1. Spare/Space?
  2. Up Home from Branch
  3. FPL 4 Points (Branch end derail)
  4. Points (Main/Branch)
  5. FPL 4 Points (Main  Line end)
  6. Release (Key from Lever 12 in Frame A)
  7. Spare/Space?
  8. Up Starting from Main or Loop to Branch
No. 2 signal (Up Home from Branch) was also controlled by Lever 33 from Frame A)
No. 8 signal (Up Starting Main to Branch or Loop to Branch) was controlled by Lever 9 (from the Main) or Lever 36 (from the Loop).

As indicated above the line was officially closed by an act of parliament on 10 July 1956. My research has found that the signalling at the branch junction was not removed until 17 July 1962 (Weekly Notice 28/1962) some six and a half years after the line had been officially closed.

The work undertaken on 17 July 1962 saw the disconnection of Levers 9, 33 and 36 in the signal box, the junction points spiked pending subsequent removal, the removal of Frame E and associated equiipment and the renaming of three signals in the signal box:
  • No. 30 Down Home Main to Loop (formerly Down Second Home. Main to Loop)
  • No. 32 Down Outer Home, Main (formerly Down Second Home, Main)
  • No. 34 Down Outer Home (formerly Down Home).
Interestingly the following day the post of the Up Starting Signal (Lever 3 in the signal box) was renewed without the bracket for the signal to the branch which was no longer needed.

Further research found two pictures of the junction taken on Boxing Day 1961 (Remember When, page 65 ) show the line at the Branch Home signal very overgrown.

All this research has answered some questions (including confirming that the date of the pictures in 'Steam across the Border' are correct) but has led to some more:
  1. Why did it take over six years following the closure of the line to remove the signalling equipment?
  2. When was the actual last train on the branch?
  3. Between 1956 and 1962 was the branch ever used to stable trains if The Rock yard was full.
  4. When was the staff for the branch  removed?
  5. The line when opened was provided with electric staff (20 staffs in total) - was this changed to ordinary staff (as there was only ever one train a week timetabled) and if so when did this happen.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

NSW Water Facilities Part 5 - 1933 to 1960

New Developments

The opening of the line from Camurra to Boggabilla in the north of the state and the Unanderra to Moss Vale line in June and August 1932 respectively mark the end of the third period of expansion with the railways having just under 10000 kilometres of lines. With the exception of the Captains Flat line of 35 kilometres in length, opened in 1940, there were no significant country branchlines opened until the Sandy Hollow to Ulan line in 1982.
The railways as such fundamentally moved into the period of maintenance and renewal as required. The extension of the double track of the Main South Line (with the exception of the Bethungra Spiral in 1942/3) saw the renewal of the railways infrastructure at Junee. The loco depot which had been located northwest of the station since the late 1880’s was becoming increasingly cramped and unsuitable for the requirements of servicing the locomotives of the time. A new design drawn and a new location about two kilometres south of the station identified. This loco depot was the last major depot built and thus was designed with equipment that was the result of many years of design and material refinement. While the original design had two elevated 40000 gallon tanks being fed from a 500000 gallon concrete tank the infrastructure that was built was two 246000 gallon reservoirs. The reservoirs were built on the side of a hill on the west side of the loc depot and were partially embedded into the ground. They provided supply to four water columns, two on the arrival roads and two on the departure road in addition to all of the water requirements of the depot. The two 40000 gallon tanks were not required as they would have been at the same height as the reservoirs and thus of no real advantage. A 20000 gallon elevated tank was also built at Junee station at this time. This tank fed columns located around the station area.
In 1948 there was a need for further refuge loop on the Short North at Wyong. It was found due to the topography around Wyong station that the extension of the loops at Wyong was not suitable. The area between Tuggerah and Wyong Creek was found to be suitable and both Up and Down Refuges loops controlled from Tuggerah signal box were constructed, opening on 11th May 1948. Facilities for the servicing of locomotives were also required and the result was the construction of the last newly located watering facility in the state. (As far as can be ascertained the tank at the Garrett Sidings at North Gosford was the last tank constructed but as Gosford had had watering facilities for many years this qualifies Tuggerah and the last new location).
Two tanks of 40000 gallons capacity were erected, each supplying two 12” water columns located at the exit ends of the loops. These tanks represent the final design and are subtly different for those that had been built before. The method of bracing was changed and instead of using steel rod, steel bar was used – This was because it had been found that various tanks had required the replacing of the rod due to rust. The bar being larger thus lasted longer. Where the bars crossed they were secured with a bolt. The tanks were located between the railway and the Pacific Highway and in an unusual development both tanks had advertising for Rysdyk Homes of Gosford painted on them. The only known example of a painted tank is a Cardiff Workshops where the tank had ‘SAFETY FIRST’ painted on all four sides – one letter to a panel. The advertising on the tank at Tuggerah was renewed at least once during the life of the structures.

3644 in the Down Loop at Tuggerah while on a tour train on 21 September 1966. Note also the elctric light. The south end tank can be seen in the far background.
5915 at the same location on 16 Sept 1972. Note the advertising sign has been repainted. Note also the rusting from the leaking tank.

In 1959 Gosford Yard was redesigned as part of the electrification to Gosford. The area around the station was decidedly cramped and additional loco facilities were built at the north end of the yard some 500 metres north of the station. While these facilities were called the Garrett Sidings (because they were primarily built for the 60 class as they would not fit into the loco area near the station) all types of locos used them. While the new Gosford tank was only 20000 gallons capacity it was identical in design and construction to the two tanks at Tuggerah built 11 years earlier.

Developments during World War Two

The Second World War commenced in September 1939 and while Australia was involved from that time the impact to the railways did not really occur until the entry of Japan in late 1941. Following this there was a massive increase in the movement of troops and materials across New South Wales Railways generally to and from Queensland. The most obvious route for this movement via the North Coast line but there was a fear that this line could be impact as for the majority of its route it was within a few miles of the coast. The only real alternative was the inland route via Griffith, Parkes, Dubbo, Werris Creek and then via the main north to Wallangarra. Significant construction quickly occurred in various location but at best it could be described as piece meal. An example of this is that both Griffith and Stockinbingal received triangles as all trains would have to reverse at these locations while Parks and Binnaway did not. (Parkes finally received a connection in 2000.)
Any new construction related to these ‘war trains’ was paid for by the Federal Government and it is surprising that the opportunity was not taken to build more infrastructure that would have improved train running.
With the increased running of trains through Merrygoen it was found that the 40000 gallon tank was not of sufficient capacity that allowed water to be pumped only once a day. Due to war restriction it was not possible to build a new tank and a tank located at Broadmeadow was found and relocated. The stand of the tank was found to be 7’ shorter than the stand on the tank already at Merrygoen as it was advantageous to have both tanks at the same level. The result of this was the new tank had concrete piers 8’ high supporting the stand. A second pumphouse was also constructed.
Binnaway was another location that received a second tank that was relocated although the original location of this tank is not known. The stand was also of a different height to the original tank and additional lengths were welded to the steel piers to bring the new tank to the same height.

Other Minor Developments

In September 1941 a plan was drawn for a standard 10000 or 20000 gallon tank (depending on whether it was a single or double tier tank). The plan was an example where the bracing of the stand did not meet in a steel ring and the steel columns were bolted to the foundations rather that the steel columns embedded in the concrete foundations. The bracing was diagonal as before and the steel rod was attached at both corners. Where the bracing crossed it was held to the other bracing by two pieces of steel. The base of the columns terminated in a steel plate that was bolted to the foundations. The 1” diameter bolts were 2’ long and embedded in the concrete.
One of the most common areas of the structures that required maintenance was the bases of the actual tanks. To improve the integrity of the bases concrete was used to seal the bottoms, approximately a 2” layer being used. While thus was used on all types of tank it was more prevalent on the older designs.

The tank at Merrygoen that was relocated from Broadmeadow in 1942. Note the height of the concrete foundations when compared with the original tank on the right. 3 August 1994
An example of the different style of bracing this one from Binalong.
The foot of the steel columns showing the newer type of attachment to the foundations – this example at Binnaway.