17 November 2010

What's in a name?

Before I get too far into talking about things railway, its probably best to get a few things straight about the language used in this blog.  So, what's in a name?

Typical of the pioneer approach of the time the villages and townships in the Castlereagh region began in inauspicious circumstances, often with titles of confused or obscure origin.  With the effluxion of time, a standardisation of spelling and even changes in titles resulted.  Eumungerie is a good example of this transition – during the first five years of the twentieth century it laboured with four different names at different times.  At several points, the two most important communication points within the village – the railway station and the post office – even had differing names!

Throughout this blog, I'll attempt to use the name used currently for a particular location  unless earlier or derivative names are required to illustrate a point.  The major exception to this involves the name of the district – Coalbaggie - for purely sentimental reasons.   From white settlement to 1976, this modest water course of 57 kilometres was known as Coalbaggie Creek – but pronounced phonetically as ‘Coolbaggie Creek’.  This Creek provided the district its name.  In 1976, the NSW Geographical Names Board remedied this phonetic inconsistency in a sound manner by renaming Coalbaggie to Coolbaggie.  Despite this most sensible decision this blogger will retain the original spelling as a salute to those nineteenth century grammarians involved in naming the central west of New South Wales.

Before leaving the issue of Coalbaggie it is apposite to also clear two present-day geographic confusions.  Approximately six kilometres to the south-east is the Coolbaggie Nature Reserve.  Approximately 13 kilometres to the south west of Eumungerie is the nominated site of the village of Coolbaggie.  It is this location which seemed to create much of the initial confusion.

Geographical nomenclature is not the only problematic lexicon.  The NSW rail administrations have bent to accommodate linguistic fashions, dictums and fads for 150 years.  Drawing successively from English, Irish and North American influences over the period, goods trains have become freight trains, trucks have become wagons and engines are now known as locomotives. 

Added to this has been a peculiar bureaucratic penchant for reordering, renumbering and recoding.  Perhaps the most visible item on a railway – the engine or locomotive – has been renumbered under three different systems, with major changes occurring in 1878 and 1924.  For the sake of uniformity, all locomotives are referred to in this blog under the 1924 classification system.  Where references involve a working prior to 1924, I wil bracket the the earlier coding in the text.

So, that's what's in a name!

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