02 March 2014

The 1954 Royal Tour

Probably the busiest day ever for Eumungerie and the entire Coonamble line was 10 February 1954 - and I have forgotten to mark the 50 year anniversary of this event (three weeks ago).  So, lets get started...

At the time, the usual scheduled rail services were composed by a single return passenger service running daily except Sunday, and a mixed pick-up operating thrice weekly.  However, on Wednesday, 10 February 1954, additional and altered train arrangements for the Coonamble line were put in place in order to convey passengers to Dubbo to meet Queen Elizabeth II on her first royal tour.

The first additional train operated was an empty car movement from Dubbo at 2:00am on the day, resting at Eumungerie for three minutes from 2:49am and reaching Coonamble at 5:44am.  This train formed No. CC Up Passenger departing Coonamble at 7:00am.  It arrived at Eumungerie at 9:55am, and was held at this location for 17 minutes in order to cross No. 45 Down Coonamble Mail.  The up service arrived at Dubbo at 11:00am.

The second additional service was formed by cars off No. 59 Down Passenger the previous Saturday.  It left Dubbo as an empty car movement at 3:00am on Wednesday morning, and also spent three minutes at Eumungerie from 3:49am.  Arriving at Coonamble at 6:44am, it left at 8:10am as No. JJ Up Passenger to Dubbo.  This train crossed No. 45 Down Coonamble Mail at Gilgandra, passed through Eumungerie at 11:16 and arrived at Dubbo at 12:05pm.

The third additional service was provided for school students, as well as the general public.  The positioning run to Gilgandra left Dubbo as No. 31a Down Passenger at 5:45am, being formed by the cars from the previous day’s No. 31 Down Passenger, meaning that it conceivably was a loco-hauled RUB set.  This service also took three minutes to work through Eumungerie – this time at 6:34am.  Arriving at Gilgandra at 7:13am, 32 minutes later it returned to Dubbo as No. 28a Up Passenger.  This service passed through Eumungerie at 8:26am.

The final morning service involved the usual mail train working, albeit to an altered timetable.  No. 45 Down Coonamble Mail left Dubbo 44 minutes later than its usual departure time of 8:06am.  As noted above, it passed No. CC Up Passenger at Eumungerie and No. JJ Up Passenger at Gilgandra.  It arrived at Coonamble at 12:42pm – 62 minutes later than its usual arrival time.

The evening return services were led by No.45G Down Railmotor, which left Dubbo at 5:10pm, passed through Eumungerie at 5:52pm and arrived at its terminus of Gilgandra at 6:26pm.  It returned 10 minutes later, as No. 46G Empty Railmotor, running through Eumungerie at 7:06pm to arrive at Dubbo by 8:15pm.  If required, the same railmotor set then formed No. 47G Down Railmotor service, which is described below.

The first evening loco-hauled passenger service was run for school students only, departing Dubbo at 6:20pm as No.10C Down Passenger.  It crossed No. 46G Up Railmotor at Eumungerie at 7:09pm, and arrived at Coonamble at 10:08pm.  This train returned to Dubbo as No. RC Empty Passenger at 11:30pm, arriving at Dubbo by 3:46am on 11 February, then working through to Orange.

The second evening loco-hauled passenger service departed Dubbo at 7:40pm as No.15J Down Passenger.  It arrived at Eumungerie at 8:29pm, and arrived at Coonamble at 11:30pm.  This train returned to Dubbo as No. RJ Empty Passenger at 12:50am on Thursday morning, and would then form No. 58 Up Passenger on the Friday. 

I don't have a photo of the day's events from my (possibly republican) family and the only railway-related photograph of the day that the internet comes from the excellent NSW Records site.  The following snap shows an immaculate 3306 ready to return royalists to Nyngan.

The photo gives the clue that a mixture of 30T and 32 class locos were pressed into service for the event.

Thus ended quite possibly the busiest single day for passenger traffic on the Coonamble line.

How did it all go? Well, the Queen visited for a whole 90 minutes, after landing at 3:30pm.  She got to see a whole bunch of sheep bums... (another one from NSW Records).

The Sydney Morning Herald reported the following day that:

The Royal party... landed at Dubbo in bright sunshine and the town give them an overwhelming welcome... The big event of the programme was a visit to a typical country show.  Here was a new, friendly easy-going world of men in broad-brimmed hats, bushmen in athletic singlets and trousers, of sheep "hearing, tree-felling and whip-cracking. 

The Queen was obviously delighted by the novelty of it all-by the guard of honour of rows of prize rams and ewes, by the cheery wave she got from an axeman in a tree felling contest.
Enthusiasm steamed from the Dubbo crowds...

Enough for now!