Home' Hunter Its People : Hunter-Glory Days June 2012 Contents Launch 'Our Town'
commence Hunter Surf
Life Saving sponsorship
opens our 10th branch
expands into the
Central Coast with
the opening of our
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Limited ACN 087 651 992, Australian Financial Ser vices Licence/Australian Credit Licence 238273. NPB1607 14x16
[ GLORY DAYS ]
2. The coming
AustrAliA’s first rAilwAy opens: December, 1831
Railway in Australia was born in Newcastle on December 10, 1831, when the
Australian Agricultural Company opened a line from its pit on The Hill to a
wharf on the harbour.
An “inclined plane railway”, on tracks made with iron rails from England,
one-ton wagons of coal were rolled down the hill, connected by rope to
empty wagons which were dragged up the hill as the loaded wagons
The Newcastle Industrial Heritage Association points out the historical
signifcance – Australia’s frst private coal company sending its frst coal
along Australia’s frst railway to its frst coal loader to be loaded into the
Sophia Jane, one of Australia’s frst steam-powered ships.
No evidence remains of the railway but in 2006 investigations verifed
the location of the pit and rail line, and a plaque was unveiled on the site
where the coal loader stood. The plaque says the frst coal was loaded onto
the Sophia Jane “amid hearty cheers from all those present”.
It was a more torturous road to the connection of passenger rail to the
Hunter and the opening of Newcastle Railway Station in 1878.
To steal trade from Hunter River steamers, a rail line linking Newcastle
to Maitland was frst proposed in 1853, when Maitland was the much
larger settlement, and the private Hunter River Railway Company was
founded, only to fail and have the rail construction taken over by the state
The line opened in 1857 between Honeysuckle Point (near present-day
Civic Station) and East Maitland, and by 1858 the Newcastle end had been
extended to the port and the East Maitland end to the township of Maitland.
Over the next few years the line extended towards Brisbane, reaching
Singleton in 1863, Muswellbrook in 1869 and Scone in 1871, before fnally
reaching the Queeensland border at Wallangara in 1888.
By this time the original Honeysuckle station was gone after John
Whitton, the engineer-in-chief of NSW Government Railways, insisted on its
relocation to the present Newcastle site to be closer to the CBD.
Under Whitton’s supervision Newcastle station was built, the original
building constructed in 1878 and frst used in December
that year, a two-storey building with single-storey pavilions
at either end that forms the basis of the station as it exists
today. From the station Newcastle goods yards fanned out,
dominating the harbour site.
Because of the “rail block” of the Hawkesbury River,
Newcastle was actually connected by rail to Queensland
The line between Sydney and the southern bank of the
Hawkesbury was opened in 1887, with the line between
Newcastle and the northern bank opening in 1888. The
line was only completed between the two cities with the
opening of the Hawkesbury River Bridge in 1889.
by rail to Queensland
Links Archive Hunter Our Backyard June 2011 Navigation Previous Page Next Page