Continuing to work our way around the railway facilities of Eumungerie, this post considers the stock loading and unloading facilities - though it is clear from the data below that much more loading occurred than unloading.
In the earliest years of operation the railways used the loading bank opposite the station platform to load livestock. Following the 1912/13 redevelopment of the yard the stock ramps utilised the bank of the wool dump. Temporary barriers were extended when necessary. These arrangements appear were likely used from the commencement of stock services to at least the mid-1940s.
In 1935 Eumungerie was noted as having a ‘C’ placed in the column headed Pigs, Sheep and Cattle Races – in the Merchandise Book. Deciphered, this meant that up to six trucks could be dealt with at the Eumungerie stock races without the need for a locomotive.
In 1951, new stock yard ramps were built in a new location to the north of the silo on the Wheat Siding. The cost of this improvement was ₤265, with labour costs of ₤581 incurred in the installation.
The provision of discrete stock loading facility freed up the loading bank for other purposes. However it did not increase stock loading capacity as the stockyards themselves were only rated to handle up to six cattle or sheep wagons with without a locomotive.
Tenders were called for the demolition and removal of the stockyards on 22 May 1974, suggesting that loading from this location ceased sometime prior to this.
Six or seven years prior to the demise of the stock yards, an un-named but very brave uncle clambered to the top of silo to take the following photograph.
Occupational health and safety and public liability concerns of the 21st century demand that I state that such foolhardy endeavours not be attempted, but I am sure glad he did!
The following photograph not only shows the stock ramps but the salubrious accommodation in the form of a small red shed provided for those in charge of stock yard. Doubtless many a drover got the pleasure of a night’s rest in the shack, and even perhaps a decent shower under the water column?
So, what were these yards used for? Well, apart from providing a terrific play ground for kids visiting their great grand-mother, they were used for the loading of all sorts of animals.
In the 26 years of records constituting the period from the 1912/13 redevelopment of Eumungerie to the Second World War, 287,389 beasts left Eumungerie via the stockyards. Of these, the vast majority were sheep (283,729 or 98.2 per cent). A further 1,610 cattle and 1,311 pigs left town this way, along with 536 horses and 143 calves. All up, this transport task garnered the NSW railways £35,603 - a very tidy earner in those days.