OTD: Railway Accident at Wattle Glen, 25 Mar 1932

#OnThisDay ( #OTD ) – 88 years ago, Good Friday, March 25th, 1932, a terrible and frightening railway accident occurred for a family on holidays from Cobram whilst passing through Wattle Glen.

As reported on page 1 of the Advertiser, Friday 1 April 1932 and many other newspapers throughout Melbourne and the country.

Railway Accident at Wattle Glen

TRAIN DERAILED IN LEVEL CROSSING ACCIDENT
MOTOR CAR TORN TO PIECES
OCCUPANTS HAVE MARVELLOUS ESCAPES

A sensation went through the district when it became known that there had been a railway accident at Wattle Glen on Good Friday morning. All sorts of alarming rumors were current, and it was a relieved community which learned that, although the train had been derailed and a motor car almost torn to pieces, all the persons who were in the train and car escaped with comparatively minor injuries.
Traffic on the line was completely disorganised for some time as a section of the line had been torn up by the train when it left the rails, and until the line was repaired and the necessary repairs made, a fleet of taxis and a railway bus were used to carry on.

The accident occurred about 11.40 a.m. when the 11.10 a.m. “up’ train was travelling from Hurstbridge to Melbourne. The train was almost entering the Wattle Glen station when the mishap occurred.
Mr. Donald F. Paterson, manager of the Bank of Australasia at Cob-ram, with his wife and two children, had arrived from Cobram on the day before, and had spent the night with Mrs. Paterson’s mother (Mrs. Herbert), whose home is near the station.

Set Out for the Beach

They had decided to visit the beach, and were on their way to reach the Hurstbridge-Melbourne road.

Waited for Another Car

At the railway crossing Mr. Paterson, waited a while to allow another car travelling in the opposite direct-ion, to negotiate the crossing first, and then proceeded. When his car was on the crossing it was struck broadside on by the train.

Hurled Over Culvert

The car was dragged broadside on for some distance, and was then hurled over into a culvert on the west side of the line.
The train, the two leading carriages of which had left the line, continued on, lurching sickeningly as the derailed wheels ploughed up the permanent way.

Post Snapped Like a Reed

The head of the train wobbled from side to side, carrying before it an 18-inch post used to support the over-head electrical equipment. This pole was, snapped like a reed, and did not decrease the speed of the runaway train to any appreciable extent.

All this time the air brakes had been applied, and when the train eventually came to a standstill the leading carriages were canted over at a dangerous angle.

The Injured

The injured were:
Donald Fary Paterson, aged 36 years, manager of the Bank of Australasia, Cobram. Bruises and shock.

Mary Winifred Paterson, his wife, aged 32 years. Broken bone in right foot and shock.

Richard Paterson, aged 6 years, and Betty Paterson, aged 2 years, their children. Slight abrasions and shock.

J. Howse, driver of train. Shock.

Mrs M. Barnes, Hurstbridge, passenger on the train. Shock.

After the Accident

An inspection of the site revealed a mass of torn up line, whilst the car was literally a mass of twisted scrap iron: -The culvert over which the car had been hurled, and where there is a drop of about 12 feet, was badly splintered, and it is a wonder that the train did not follow the car when it went over the culvert.

To the Rescue

Mr. James McCannon, who was working In his garden, nearby, heard the crash and rushed over to give what assistance he could. There were others also in the neighborhood who hurried to the scene.
Mrs .Paterson was limping about, searching frantically for her two children, completely ignoring the terrible pain from her injured foot. Searchers found Mr. Paterson pinned beneath the wreckage of the car, and across his knees was his son, Richard. The daughter Beatrice was found on the road at the crossing, she apparently having been thrown clear of the car at the time of the impact.

In the train were only the driver (Motorman Howse), the guard, and one passenger (Mrs. Barnes, of Hurstbridge).

Driver’s Escape

The driver had a marvelous escape, his cabin being splintered when It struck the pole carrying the overhead gear, but he escaped with bruises and a few lacerations caused by glass from the broken windscreen of his cabin. The roof of the driver’s compartment had been splintered, and the front crushed.

Passenger’s Experience

Mrs. Barnes had a nerve-wracking experience. She was tossed from side to side as the train lurched on its way after leaving the track, sustaining shock and considerable bruising. She was taken to a nearby residence, and after resting awhile recovered sufficiently to return home.

Motorists took Mr. and Mrs. Paterson to the Eltham Hospital, where they were admitted for treatment, and their two children were taken to the home of Mr. Paterson’s mother at Greensborough.

Traffic Interruption

Passengers to Eltham, Diamond Creek on the trains following hear all sorts of sensational rumors of what had happened. At Heidelberg passengers were told that the train was not going any further, but after some time all got aboard again, and the train proceeded to Eltham, where all passengers were again told to get out. They finally re-embarked and were taken to Diamond Creek, from which station they continued their interrupted journeys by taxis and a railways motor bus, which continued the interrupted service. Passengers, who left Melbourne for Hurstbridge at about 11 a.m. finally reached their destination at about 3 p.m.

Restoring the Damage

The aftermath of the railway accident at Wattle Glen, 25 March 1932 (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

The railways officials were soon on the spot, and immediately work was started to rebuild the tracks and re store the overhead gear. Work continued throughout the day and all Friday night, normal running being resumed about midday on Saturday.

The derailed carriages were not re placed on the rails until a quarter to 6 o’clock on Friday evening. During this operation one of the large hooks of the steam crane pierced the wood work of a carriage, causing consider able damage.

Mr. Paterson said he did not see the train until it was almost on his car, his attention having been occupied in seeing that another car got clear of the crossing before he negotiated it. Had he not waited for that car he would have cleared the crossing in ample time.
Motorman House said that at this spot the line curved. He was emphatic that he sounded his siren as he approached the spot. His view of the crossing was obscured by sap lings at the curve and he saw the first car get clear, but did not see Paterson’s car as it was on the “blind” side of his cabin.

Mrs. Barnes; who is staying at Cr. J. Ryan’s house, is still suffering very much from shock. Mr. and Mrs. Ryan were in Sale at the time of the accident, but returned as soon as they heard of it.

Mr. J. Howse has been off duty since the accident.

The sub-station at Greensborough was also damaged on account of the heavy surge of current which blew the fuses and damaged the switches. It is expected that the damage to the railways will amount to over £1,000.

It is understood that the insurance on the motor car that was smashed expired the previous week.

1932 ‘THE SCENE AFTER THE WATTLE GLEN SMASH’, Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), 1 April, p. 1. , viewed 15 Feb 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56737545
Reference:

1932 ‘Railway Accident at Wattle Glen’, Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), 1 April, p. 1. , viewed 15 Feb 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56737542

 

Heritage Walk: Eltham’s Hidden Creek – Saturday, 7 March 2020

Meet at 2.00 pm (Melway ref 21 H6) at the parking area below the Eltham Community and Reception Centre at the western end of Pitt Street.

The watercourse now known as Karingal Yalloc was once called the Eltham West Drain. It enters the Diamond Creek near Brougham Street, Eltham and drains an area extending to St Helena and part of Greensborough. The creek has been undergrounded through part of the Eltham industrial area.

N. J. Tillings Timber Factory, 15 June, 1975 (Photo: Dick Crichton; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

In 2013 we explored this creek upstream from Meruka Drive. For our March excursion we will follow the creek as closely as possible from the Diamond Creek to where it crosses under the railway line near Sherbourne Road. This is mainly through the industrial area and we will discuss Eltham’s industrial history along the way. A particular feature is the former hat factory (Fort Knox Self Storage) at the end of the walk.

The distance is less than 2 km one way and should take about two hours, including plenty of time to stop and talk. There will be an informal return walk but those who wish to can catch a bus back.

The walk is open to Society members and the general public. Dogs are not permitted on Society excursions.

All are welcome…..but numbers are limited

ThrowbackThursday: Alan Marshall in his Bungalow, 13 Park Road, Eltham, 1970

#ThrowbackThursday – 50 years ago, the Shire of Eltham Historical Society (now Eltham District Historical Society) worked closely with acclaimed and distinguished Australian author, Alan Marshall in preparing a history of the Shire of Eltham to celebrate its centenary in 1971. The book, Pioneers & Painters: One Hundred Years of Eltham and its Shire, edited by Alan Marshall was the result of that effort and was published in 1971.

Alan Marshall at his Eltham home with secretary, Pat Wiltshire, 1970 ( From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )

Here we see Alan dictating part of the manuscript for Pioneers & Painters to his secretary, Pat Wiltshire, in his bungalow located at 13 Park Road, Eltham in 1970 (now 13 Park West Road). The bungalow was built c.1955 and was Alan’s home from about 1955 to 1980. It is located at the rear of the house, which at the time was owned by Marshall’s sister, Margaret McIntyre Marshall. It is understood the property was sold in September 1981. Marshall died 21 January 1984 and is buried at Nillumbik Cemetery, Diamond Creek.

Alan Marshall’s manuscript for Pioneers & Painters, 1971 ( From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )

The Alan Marshall Bungalow at 13 Park West Road, Eltham is registered on the Victorian Heritage Database and is protected by Heritage Overlay, HO 147 in the Nillumbik Planning Scheme, which covers the bungalow and its surrounding site to a radius of 15 metres. It is significant as it was Marshall’s home at the time he wrote Pioneers & Painters and the basic nature of it is illustrative of Marshall’s lifestyle.

Alan Marshall at his Eltham home with secretary, Pat Wiltshire, 1970 ( From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )
Alan Marshall at his Eltham home, 1970 ( From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )
Alan Marshall at his Eltham home with secretary, Pat Wiltshire, 1970 ( From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )
Alan Marshall at his Eltham home with secretary, Pat Wiltshire, 1970 ( From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory )
Book launch “Pioneers & Painters”; Mr. Alan Marshall, 13 Park West Road, Eltham. Editor of “Pioneers and Painters”, 7 July 1971. ( Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection SEPP_3058 held in partnership by Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory and Yarra Plenty Regional Library @YarraPlentyRegionalLibrary )