A new month, and a new location. I am aiming to reach Coonamble (in this blog) before spring so today its time to cover off the mighty metropolis of Armatree.
Armatree lies within the Allamurgoola Parish, which is also part of Ewenmar County. It is a 560 kilometre rail journey from Sydney. White settlement existed at Armatree prior to the coming of the railway, sufficient to justify the establishment of a public school in the location in 1885.
Armatree’s railway station lies 15 rail kilometres from Curban and 97 kilometres from Dubbo. It was initially known as Armatree Platform, although early publications also refer to ‘Armitree’. This confusion was reinforced by postal officials who named the local outlet as ‘Armitree Railway’ between 1906 and 1916.
The earliest track diagram of Armatree hardly tested the skills of the colonial drafters. Right now I am going to reproduce the initial station diagram for Armatree Platform, sourced from the very most-excellent Australian Railway Historical Society's NSW Track & Signal Diagrams to demonstrate this point ...
The distinguishing feature of this complex railway yard, the timber-faced platform, measured 52 metres. The station building provided a ladies’ waiting room, a general waiting room and a booking office.
At some stage during the first decade of railway operation, a siding was established – presumably on the eastern side of the line as the western side contained the platform. On 21 August 1911 the siding at Armatree was extended at the Sydney end, bringing the total capacity of the siding to 26 four-wheel trucks. In late August 1912 a 20 ton cart weighbridge provided at Armatree.
In the middle of the following year a medium-sized goods shed was provided at the location. Interestingly Forsyth appears to contradict this announcement in the Weekly Notices when he notes that March 1916 brought the erection of a more modestly-sized goods shed.
On Thursday 22 January 1914 a new dead-end wheat loading siding was brought into use on the Up side of the line, 260 yards on the Dubbo side of the goods siding.
Armatree was classified as a booking station for parcels traffic from 1 February 1917. A solitary member of the Railway Department was assigned to the location.
Trucking yards were established in December 1918. On 18 December 1918 sheep and cattle trucking yards with permanent sheep and cattle races were brought into use, with room for 16 trucks without a loco lead.
The railway yards presumably contained a 5 ton crane as in late 1935 the crane’s jib was replaced from cast iron to cast steel. It also appears that a loading/wool bank was installed during the early part of the 20th century.
Grain facilities at Armatree were also increased in incremental stages. Initially bagged wheat was loaded from the loading bank. Bulk facilities arrived in 1935 when a wheat silo was constructed. The silo was increased in capacity in 1960. In 1964 a wheat bulkhead was constructed and in 1966 a Wheat ‘D-type’ depot was erected. Currently, Armatree has a 22,850 tonne capacity grain storage facility. 'D-type' depots are the most common type of storage on the Coonamble branch. All but the Armatree version have the same capacity of 15,000 tonnes- the Armatree D120 depot has a lower capacity of 12,000 tonnes.
Armatree’s passenger facilities did not appear in time for the line’s official opening. However by 18 November 1903 a station was available for opening. At some early stage passenger traffic seemingly warranted additional facilities. On 10 May 1924 this increased demand was sated through the extension of the platform. Most station platforms on the Coonamble line were constructed by an earthen embankment, faced by wooden sleepers. However the extension at Armatree was constructed from pre-cast concrete sections.
Armatree’s delayed opening of its passenger accommodations also foretold of its delayed demise. While it lost its status as an unattended station in 1970, Armatree Station was only closed officially on 26 April 1976, approximately six months after the cessation of passenger rail facilities.
Today Armatree is composed of a single loop serving two purposes. Entering from the south, a gravity hump provides a means to propel wagons along a 461 stretch of track servicing the grain receival facilities. The northern end of the loop traverses 229 metres adjacent to the loading bank.
Two kilometres beyond Armatree lies the site of a ballast siding, which operated between July 1908 and March 1937.