24 September 2011

Eumungerie's railway yard

The railway yard at Eumungerie went through three major evolutions to grow to its most advanced state.  The last quarter of a century has brought several subsequent rationalisations to return it to much reduced state.

Its initial layout in 1903 involved a single passing loop provided on the western side of the main line.  The station was provided on the main line.  The initial length of the yard was 270 yards.

The initial track plan shows nothing in the way of railway infrastructure, apart from a platform, small station building and water tank.  From 1905 livestock and timber were loaded from a loading bank opposite the platform.

In October 1912 a contract was let for the provision of a second siding to act as a crossing loop.  Work associated with this first expansion major expansion of the precinct involved the re-erection of water tanks, removal and re-erection of platform and station buildings, provision of a crossing loop and removal and re-erection of cattle yards.

To facilitate these improvements on Monday, 16 October 1911 Eumungerie was temporarily closed as a staff or crossing station.  All trains timetabled to cross or pass at Eumungerie were suspended - No 37, a conditional goods train from Dubbo to Coonamble was not to run.  Similarly, No. 26, a conditional goods train from Gular to Dubbo was not to run.  Nos. 11, 27 and 85, all conditional goods trains from Dubbo to Coonamble, were not to run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in order to avoid crossing the up mixed train.

As part of the yard’s trackwork enhancements a 20 ton cart weighbridge was installed at Eumungerie from 2 December 1911.  This facility may have proved to be inadequate or unsound as it was replaced as early as 1915 with a similar facility.

The most expensive element of the expansion of Eumungerie was the construction of a station officer’s residence, at a cost of ₤686.  The second largest piece of expenditure involved the provision of a larger crossing loop at a cost of ₤542, including ₤203 worth of railway sleepers.

The removal and re-erection of the platform and building cost only ₤28 but additions to both incurred a further ₤128 expenditure.  Other works involving the locomotive water supply cost ₤51 and cattle-stops ₤44.  Ancillary works of ₤14 brought the overall total to ₤1,493.

The rebuilding of the station building is an interesting matter for consideration.  No photographs or descriptions have been obtained of the original building.  The earliest photographs date from the 1930s and 1940s show glimpses of a typical NSW Government Railways A3 skillion roof building.  As this type of building came into vogue around 1909 it may be that the original building was not re-erected at all, but replaced or transferred elsewhere.

Eumungerie yard was reopened on Monday, 28 October 1912.  Seal press 448 was allocated to the station as if to stamp the occasion.  However it was not until 1 December 1912 that Eumungerie station was reopened as a booking office.  This event and the completion of the station officer’s house brought the first full-time rostered railway employee to the village.

As almost an afterthought 1913 brought the commissioning of the smaller platform building on the southern side of the original building.  This construction was described as an ‘out-of’ shed on the official station register.  Its purpose was to store parcels and small goods making the rail journey into or out of the village.  On Tuesday 8 July 1913 new signal and interlocking arrangements were also brought into use at Eumungerie.

By the time that all works were completed in July 1913 a siding had been constructed on the eastern side of the mainline, which was named subsequently as the Platform Road.  The yard had been extended to 594 yards, with distant signals placed 800 yards from the extremities of the yard.

This first major expansion of the yard increased the amount of usable track capacity from 324 yards to 932 yards – nearly a three-fold increase over the original yard.

A second expansion of the railway occurred in 1915 and was associated with the increase in wheat traffic.  A wheat stacking site was constructed just to the north of where the silos still stand.  The same year brought the erection of a 5 ton gantry crane straddling the siding to the north of the loading bank. 

Late in 1915 the siding was extended at the northern end, creating what became known as a stub-ended Wheat Siding.  Although no NSWGR track plan has been obtained to show this extension, a 1920 Parish Map clearly shows this addition.  The relevant Weekly Notices also state that on 23 November 1915 the siding at Eumungerie was extended at the northern end.  The siding could then provide standing room for 63 four-wheeled trucks.

A further and final expansion in 1925/26 involved the northward expansion of the Wheat Siding, principally to provide double-ended access to the wheat silos.  By providing 1,668 yards of usable track capacity the Eumungerie rail precinct had experienced a five-fold increase in just 25 years.

The 1925/26 track arrangement represents the maximum expansion of the railway at Eumungerie and it remained in place for the following 67 years. 

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