This is what can be regarded as the first period of railway construction in New South Wales. In the 25 years, the lines from Sydney to Gerogery (and a year later Albury) in the south, Wellington in the west with a branch to Richmond and from Newcastle to Tamworth with a branch from Werris Creek to Gunnedah. With the exception of some station buildings the majority of the infrastructure built during this period has either been replaced by more modern examples or removed altogether. Unfortunately no water tanks from the period survive today and there is very little information available of the watering facilities infrastructure of the period. What can be deduced is that initially there were many different types of tank and stand - Whitton was no doubt establishing the best way to construct infrastructure with the limited funds that were being made available to him.
The first five engines of the New South Wales Government Railways were classified the 1 Class and with tenders that had a water capacity of only 2000 gallons the one tank at Sydney Terminal could have successfully filled all five tenders and still have remained half full. It was not until the arrival of the L(304) class, (renumbered to the (Z)21 Class in the 1924 renumbering) in March 1885 that saw the capacity of the locomotives tender rise to 3000 gallons (13,650 litres) and it was not until 1891 with the arrival of the J(483) Class (Z 29 Class in 1924) and the P(6) in 1892 that saw tender capacity rise over 3000 gallons. As a result of the small tenders the size of water tanks were limited as there was not a great requirement - even the water tank at the first Lithgow Loco Depot only had a capacity of 9000 gallons although this was in addition to a tank supplying Lithgow Coal Stage.
The tanks built during this period can be divided into two main types:
1. A plate type which were made from both iron and steel, the centre of which buckled outwards to provide rigidity. The bulge is square and protrudes approximately 3” (7.5 cm). Adjoining panels are fastened to a flat bar positioned behind the join, resulting in paired vertical rows of bolts on the exterior of the tank. Angle was used to join the corners and brace the top edge of the tank. This tank is known as Type One.
Koorawatha on 15 November 1993. This tank and stand have
subsequently been dismantled and re-erected at Gundagai.
2. A square cornered cast tank which had panels that were flat on the outside. This type was characterised by rows of bolts along the bottom edge and down one side of the tank. Adjoining panels are bolted together through flanges on the inside edge of each panel. The bolts only passing through the panels on each corner. This tank is known as Type Two.
A Type Two tank at Tallong on 29 July 1994
Both these types of tank had numerous shortcomings - the capacity of the tank could not be increased if required, there were three different types of panels required for each tank and repair of the tank if required was difficult - this was shown many years later in 1946 when a tank of this type at Grenfell failed and it was replaced rather than repaired.
From the very beginning it was established that the vertical sides of the tanks could not withstand the weight of the water on their own and that bracing was required. This also took two forms - that of bracing from the floor of the tank to the sides using iron bars and by using steel rods connecting the upper edge of the sides. The weight of the rods across the top would have pulled the sides inwards when the tank was empty, this was avoided by using timber to support the bars in the middle of the tank.
Note bracing from the floor of the tank to the sides
and additional bracing across the top of the tank.
from the floor of the tank to the sides. 1994.
The construction of the stands varied greatly with wood, brick and stone being used. The tank at Sydney was supported by part of the workshops which was made of stone while the tank at Duck River, although no plans exist would probably been constructed with timber. When the line was extended in 1856 to Liverpool, a third watering facility was constructed , using a brick structure as the stand. Thus in the first three watering facilities built there were three different types of construction.
The tank at Liverpool which was a Type 2 structure was supplied from the Georges River which runs beside Liverpool station, had an attached jib which had two valves between the tank and the outlet. The first valve which was controlled from ground level was a simple pull down to flow affair, releasing when the desired amount of water had been delivered. There was an additional screw valve on the jib to allow operation from the tender of the locomotive. Additionally there was a screw valve on the end of the jib.
Initial construction proved that Sydney Terminal and Liverpool were the exception to the rule during this period with the majority of stands being of wood construction.
Note brick construction of walls supporting tank
and that the tank is only supported by the exterior walls.
Note also dual valve arrangement as mentioned above.
By the end of 1870 the railways had reached Aberdeen (from Newcastle) in the north, Rydal in the west and Goulburn in the south. In extending from the meagre beginnings of 1855 - 56 two further tank types were used, both of sunk into the earth. At Blacktown in a drawing dated 31st July 1860 (some four weeks before the line from Parramatta (Granville) was opened), subterranean tank is shown. This tank sunk some nine feet (2.75 metres) into the ground was constructed of brick using the ‘ best Portland Cement. The base of the tank had two separate floors with the plan detailing the requirements: “The first floor to be laid to a proper template, cut to form invert and well grouted in liquid cement. The second floor to have every brick thoroughly bedded and jointed and well flushed all round in the best Portland Cement, mixed in such proportions as the Engineer may direct. Turn the arch covering part09” & part 14” thick in like cement and in like manner properly cut to form Skewbacks and solid form. A 2 feet square manhole in the centre of the arch, build in sides of same two 3’6” iron bars each 2.5 x .5 iron” The tank was some 10 feet (3 metres) wide by 20 feet (6 metres) long. The roof was supported by four internal columns. It is not known how this tank was supplied.
The plan refers twice to construction being down as the Engineer directs. This is probably the first of many occasions where there was a plan of the structure but it was adjusted on site to suit local conditions. In later years this was especially prevalent.
The main south line was the first line to reach the ultimate goal of the state border at Albury in 1881, thus providing the through connection to Albury and slowing down the drain of freight traffic to Victoria. With this in mind the majority of this section will concentrate on the watering facilities on the main south. During this period the Main West reached Wellington and the main north reached Tamworth and the development of watering facilities on these lines is mirrored by those on the main south.
The southern line was extended from Liverpool to Campbelltown in 1858, from Campbelltown to North Menangle in 1862 and to Picton in 1863. The extension from North Menangle to Picton required the crossing of the Nepean River just south of North Menangle and the opportunity was made to construct a tank with a jib on the actual bridge approaches., the water being pumped from the river. Trains would actually stop on the bridge so the locos could be watered. This tank was similar to the tank at Liverpool although it was built on a timber stand.
When the southern line was extended from Picton in 1867 heavy grades were required to climb the Southern Highlands and the locos of the time did not have the water capacity to haul a train from Menangle to Mittagong without replenishing their tenders. (Evidence suggests that neither Picton nor Mittagong had watering facilities at the time of opening.) The only reliable water supply between the two points was the Picton Lakes some 37 chains (750 metres) to the west and 160 feet (48.75 metres) below the line at its closest point. This location was located at 59 miles 58 chains (97.9 km) from Sydney Station (and six miles (9.84 km)from Picton) and was called Picton Lagoons Tank, subsequently renamed to Couridjah.
This was the first location where the water supply was some distance from the line and as such required a pumphouse, extensive piping and a tank. Although the tanks built since Blacktown (Menangle for example) were built on a stand the lie of the land at this location was used to advantage. Between the pumphouse and the line the land rose to some 8 feet (2.5 metres) above the top of the water column beside the track. At the top of the ridge two rectangular concrete tanks 150’ x 6” x 6’which were interconnected and were 9’ apart. The water flowed into the top of the tanks at the western end. At the eastern end a 9” suction pipe led from each tank , joining at a ‘Y’ piece and then travelled 263 yards via a 12” pipe before a the pipe size was reduced to 9” via a reducing valve located 75’ from the Down end of the station on the eastern side of the line. This 9” main directed water to the column. In addition to the 12” pipe from the tanks there was a 9” diameter pipe from each tank that join at a centrally located valve - this was used to drain the tanks if required.
In late 1867 the line was extended from Mittagong to Sutton Forest (subsequently renamed to Moss Vale) . In this section another watering facility was constructed where the line crossed over the Wingecarribee River the railway subsequently naming it Wingecarribee Tank. This tank and stand was of a similar construction to structure at Menangle although it was not attached to the bridge over the watercourse, it being located shortly to the south. With the opening of water facilities at Mittagong in 1880, Bong Bong (between Wingecarribee Tank and Moss Vale) in 1889. The need for the tank at Wingecarribee was diminished. Subsequently the facilities at Bong Bong were moved to Moss Vale in 1894 and the Wingecarribee Tank was removed in February 1895.
Up unto 1868 the majority of facilities constructed across the state were fully self contained in that they had jibs attached and they were immediately adjacent to the tracks. With the opening of the line from Moss Vale to Marulan in August 1868 and the construction of watering facilities at Barbers Creek (subsequently renamed to Tallong) the trend moved to separating the tanks from the watering point and moving the tanks some distance away from the tracks. Tallong was also the first facility on that required the railways to build a substantial dam that was specifically on a water course. Previously the supply of water was readily available in Lakes (eg: Picton Lakes) or in rivers that did not require the construction of a dam eg: Liverpool, Duck River.
May 1869 saw the arrival of the line in Goulburn. For over five years afterwards the line was not extended and the largest loco depot so far was built on the line. With a ready supply of water available in the Mulwaree Ponds a pump house was built to lift the water from the river to the loco area. A tank supplying both an attached jib and separate column was located in the loco yard on the Down side to the north of the station.
During the five years that the main south line remained at Goulburn the west was extended from Mount Victoria to Kelso and the main north from Muswellbrook to Murrurundi. These extensions saw the construction of water facilities at Wallerwang and Locksley on the west and Murrurundi on the north. In all cases the structures built were a cast iron tank on a timber stand.
In November 1875 the southern line was extended to Gunning after its five year hiatus at Goulburn. July 1876 saw it extended to Binalong, March 1877 to Harden and in November 1877 to Cootamundra. During this two year period facilities were built at Mulwaree Ponds, Fish River, Yass Junction, Illalong Creek, Rocky Ponds and Cootamundra. All of these tanks were of the same construction a cast iron tank on a timber stand. The capacities varied though with Mulwaree Ponds being a 6 x 6 panel tank holding 20,000 gallons (91,000 litres). The tanks at Fish River and Yass being 6 x 4 panels holding 13,200 gallons (60,000litres).
In the period of late 1867 to early 1877 the main trunk lines were extended from Mittagong to Harden in the south, Penrith to Blayney in the west and from Singleton to Murrurundi in the north. All of the tanks were of the Type Two version while the stands were of the Type A1 version, the construction during the period being to the same basic design - only the size and therefore the capacity of the tank varied. None of these stands survive today although some of the tanks have been relocated onto newer constructed stands or the stand replaced in the same location.
The tanks were made up of two separate types of panels. The base of the tank was made from 4’4” (1.32m) square cast iron panels with 2” (5cm) flanges on all sides. The panels also had a strengthening cross on the inner sides. The exterior of the panels was smooth. The sides of the tank were made from similar panels except they were 4’4” wide by 5’ high (1.23m x 1.524m). The stands were constructed from timber, the piers being 12” (30cm) square. The inside piers were vertical while the outside piers were splayed at 5.5 degrees. 6” x9” timber was used to brace the all of the piers against each other piers. All of these tanks also had a swinging jib attached and as a result were located close to the line.
By 1876 Whitton had been using his first standard design for around ten years and the first development of the timber stand was conceived. The splayed legs were difficult to construct and maintain as precise measurements of the angle were required. They also required additional bracing which negated the use of the shelter provided by the elevated tank. The opening of the southern line from Cootamundra to Bethungra in April 1878 and the construction of a 20,000 gallon tank at the terminus saw a change to the design of the stand. A drawing of the tank at Bethungra signed by Whitton on. 20th April 1877 saw changes to the stand. The splayed outside piers were replaced by vertical ones and bracing was only done to the outside piers and then only to the piers adjacent to the corners. The space under the tank was partially enclosed and a store created. The store had two windows on the sides and a door facing the track. This type of stand was built in the majority of cases through to 1892.
The foundations for this type of stand consisted four lines of bricks 27’9” long laid with centrelines 8’3” apart. The ends of the lines being join from front to back. The bricks, laid to approximately 12” above ground level, were2’3” wide although the final course was only 18” wide. At each pier the foundations widened another 9” to spread the load. The sides The number of courses depended on the state of the ground and was up to the discretion of the engineer on site. Laid directly on to the brick were 12” wide by 6” high timbers. Sixteen 12” square piers 13’ high were placed onto the timbers and were braced by12” x 6” timbers. Across the top of each set of four piers was laid 12” square timbers from front to rear topped by another seven 12” square timbers that were placed at right angles. The tank was then placed on the top.
The period between 1877 and 1893 was on of major expansion for the railways. The southern line reached it terminus at Albury, the northern line at Wallangarra, the western line at Bourke and branchlines from Goulburn to Cooma, from Junee to Hay, from Wallerawang to Mudgee and the cross country line between Harden and Blayney. With the exception of Albury every stand built during this period was the same as the stand at Bethungra. The tank and stand at Albury, built in 1880, was the largest tank to date, its capacity being 27,000 gallons (122850 litres). The structure at Albury was one of impressive quality, the tank at Liverpool back in 1856 being the only structure that was similar. A brick structure was no doubt built to match the station buildings that were constructed at this the terminus on the state border with Victoria. Of interest the other end of the state on the main north at Wallangarra saw a single column on a single stand. It is obvious from this that the emphasis on the construction and style was with the main south rather than the north. The stand and tank at Albury survived until the late 1930’s when it was replaced by a standard 20,000 gallon tank on a standard timber stand.
An example of the foundations used in the majority of stand constructed between 1877 and 1892.This is the remains of the structure at Gundagai, located at the Down end of the platform. A swinging jib was attached to the tank. 7 November 1998.
The 27,000 gallon tank at Albury was constructed by Atlas Engine Works and was eight plates by six plates, with each plate being 4’4” wide by five feet high. The tank was located on the stand at a height of 13’6” which was the height of most tanks above the ground at the time. While the stand was built by the contractor constructing the line, the tank and associated plumbing was a separate contract.