Category Archives: Railway

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

 

ThrowbackThursday: Eltham Railway Station, 17 July 1983

#ThrowbackThursday – Over the years there have been a number of various electric train models that have traveled the Hurstbridge line to Eltham. Today we time travel back 36 years to 17 July 1983 and Eltham Railway Station where we have the unique experience to witness four generations of electric train all lined up together.

Four generations of electric trains at Eltham Railway Station, 17 July 1983
L-R: Tait (Red Rattler) wooden bodied train (1919-1952); Comeng stainless steel bodied train (1981 to curr.); Hitachi stainless steel bodied train (1972-2014); Harris (Blue) steel bodied train (1956-1988)
(Photo: George Coop, from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

The railway line to Eltham first opened in 1902. In those days the trains were all hauled by steam locomotives but in April 1923 the line was electrified and the first electric trains commenced service to Eltham. Those initial electric trains were a Tait wooden body design first introduced in 1910 to be hauled by steam locomotives and converted to electric from 1919. The Tait trains were manufactured from 1909 to 1952. There were a number of different versions; swing doors and sliding doors and all had beautifully appointed interiors. Of course most people referred to them as ‘Red Rattlers’.

Interior of a Red Rattler Tait train, 22 August 1983
(Photo: George Coop, from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

The Harris (Blue) steel bodied train was introduced 1956 and operated until 1988 when the final trains were withdrawn from service. They had an ignominious ending as these trains were full of asbestos. They were wrapped up in plastic and buried in landfill near Clayton.

In 1981 Comeng stainless steel bodied trains were first introduced to replace the last of the Tait trains and these underwent refurbishment between 2000-2003. Some examples currently still remain in service.

Hitachi stainless steel bodied trains were operated on the Melbourne network between 1972-2014.

In 2003 orders were placed for a mixture of Siemens Nexas  and Alstom X’Trapolis 100 units. Braking issues plagued the Siemens model with subsequent orders being directed towards the X’Trapolis model.

This week in the news we saw that French train manufacturer Alstom who produces the X’Trapolis model electric train in Ballarat has a new X’Trapolis 2.0 model ready to be introduced to replace the ageing Comeng electric trains by 2026.

 

ThrowbackThursday: Icons of Eltham, Main Road, Eltham, c.1967

Looking northwest from near Main Road across what was to become Eltham Town Park, later Alistair Knox Park, c.1967. Shows the trestle bridge to the left, Eltham Tip in centre, the Eltham Shire Office prior to extensions and Shillinglaw Cottage. (from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to circa 1966-1967 and Main Road, Eltham, just north of Bridge Street where we cast our eyes northwest across the fields that in a few years time will be developed into the Eltham Town Park and later Alistair Knox Park. In the distance, to the right, we see the recently relocated Shillinglaw Cottage and further on, the new Eltham Shire Offices, which were opened in 1965. In front of Shillinglaw Cottage is what will be developed into Eltham Common, later the site for the new Eltham Library in 1994 but presently still dominated by the Eltham Tip. To the left and behind the tip we see the iconic Eltham Railway Trestle Bridge and beyond that, Eltham Central Park and what appears to be part of the Football Club pavillion or is it part of the former Eltham Swimming Pool?

Everything we see is on what was once part of the original Shillinglaw farm which covered some 30 acres bordered by Main Road, Bridge Street, the Diamond Creek and Diamond Street.

ThrowbackThursday: Eltham Railway Station, 1983

A single carriage Tait train from Hurstbridge about to arrive at Eltham Railway Station at Platform 1; a Hitachi electric train waits at Platform 2 to depart for Flinders Street, 1983. (Photo: EDHS, digital photo-stitch of two separate photos from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society “Fred Mitchell Collection”, donated by Fred Mitchell)

#ThrowbackThursday – Today we time travel back to 1983 and Eltham Railway Station. A single carriage ‘Red Rattler’ Tait train from Hurstbridge is about to arrive at Platform 1 where it will shortly depart again for Hurstbridge. A Hitachi electric train sits at Platform 2 awaiting departure for Flinders Street. The last of the Tait trains were withdrawn from service in December 1984.

A Hitachi electric train waits at Eltham Railway Station Platform 2 to depart for Flinders Street, 1983. (Photo: ©Fred Mithchell; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society “Fred Mitchell Collection”, donated by Fred Mitchell)
A single carriage Tait train from Hurstbridge about to arrive at Eltham Railway Station at Platform 1; a Hitachi electric train waits at Platform 2 to depart for Flinders Street, 1983. (Photo: ©Fred Mithchell; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society “Fred Mitchell Collection”, donated by Fred Mitchell)
A single carriage Tait train at Eltham Railway Station at Platform 1 waiting to depart for Hurstbridge; a Hitachi electric train waits at Platform 2 to depart for Flinders Street, 1983. (Photo: ©Fred Mithchell; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society “Fred Mitchell Collection”, donated by Fred Mitchell)
Toot! Toot! The single carriage Tait train departs for Hurstbridge from Eltham Railway Station Platform 1, 1983. (Photo: ©Fred Mithchell; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society “Fred Mitchell Collection”, donated by Fred Mitchell)
Single carriage Tait train departing for Hurstbridge form Eltham Railway Station Platform 1, 1983. (Photo: ©Fred Mithchell; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society “Fred Mitchell Collection”, donated by Fred Mitchell)

 

 

 

 

ThrowbackThursday: Timber Railway Trestle Bridge, Eltham, c.1913

Trestle Bridge, Eltham, c.1912; note the Catholic Church in Henry Street and Shillinglaw Cottage visible in background

(from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

#ThrowbackThursday – Eltham today is just getting busier and busier; more housing and unit developments, more people and lots more traffic. And a stroll along the Diamond Creek Trail during footy season weekends near Central Park will encounter plenty of people watching the latest game; you would be lucky to even find a car park. Next time you wander along the trail or head down to watch a game, cast your mind back a hundred years or so and ponder what it was like. To set the scene, today we time travel back to circa 1913 to a point just beside the Diamond Creek, south of Central Park. As we cast our eyes to the east we immediately see two of the iconic sights of Eltham; the timber railway trestle bridge built just over ten years earlier and Shillinglaw Cottage in its original location and the Shillinglaw trees standing proudly in front. If you look carefully beyond the trestle bridge, past where the current Eltham Library now stands, you will also see a weatherboard building standing in isolation. This is the new St Mary’s Catholic Church on Henry Street near Main Road (or Maria Street). The church site had been relocated from further south along Main Road (near Wingrove Cottage) in order to be more central to the congregation following the shifting of the township away from Little Eltham and closer to the railway station. It was subsequently destroyed by fire in 1961.

Postcard of St Mary’s Catholic Church, cnr Main Road and Henry Street, Eltham which was opened 13 October 1912 and subsequently destroyed by fire.
(Donated by: Garnet Burges; from the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

Montmorency Railway Station

Photo: The train to Montmorency crossing the Sherbourne Road overpass, c.1970 – courtesy of Russell Yeoman.

When the railway came to Eltham in 1902 it traversed an extensive farm and bushland area between Greensborough and Eltham, known as the Montmorency Estate. This 925 acre property, Crown Portion 3, Parish of Nillumbik, was purchased from the Crown in 1840 by Stuart Alexander Donaldson. He soon sold the land but then it remained in the ownership of the Donnithorne family for very many years. A public road from Eltham to Greensborough was constructed through the land, (part of today’s Sherbourne Road and Karingal Drive). Apart from that the land remained intact until acquisition of land for the railway which ran through the middle of the estate.

In 1911 the whole of the estate was subdivided and sold as the Greensborough Railway Station Estate. It comprised two sections, one being 52 half-acre residential lots, taking in most of today’s Briar Hill. The balance of the land was subdivided into lots, generally
of about 10 acres each. New roads were created through the land including Sherbourne, Rattray and Mountain View Roads. The development was promoted as having access to the railway at Greensborough station but there was no station within this estate.

By 1923 a community had developed within the Montmorency Estate. It included a school and St Faiths Anglican Church. Local residents and the Eltham Shire Council became involved in moves to have a railway station opened at Montmorency. Many years later Shire Secretary Max Watson assembled a file of correspondence and newsletter articles on the station and this file forms part of our Society records.

The proposed station site had no road access and the Railways Department required that access be provided before it would open a station. The streets opened for this purpose are Mayona Road, Were Street and Binns Street.

The file indicates that there was widespread community agreement to the project which included provision of roads through private property and payment of construction costs by residents. This enabled the Council to provide a guarantee to the Railways Department to enable construction of the station to commence. It was noted that 40 people had agreed to buy train tickets.

As the project proceeded a level of disagreement between neighbours became apparent. Some were donating land for roads but others required payment. Those donating land did not think that they should be paying any costs. Some thought that the roads should only be available for use by those involved in the scheme. Dr. G Nicholson was only prepared to donate his land if the roads were available for public access.

The station opened on 5th September 1923. Children and the School Committee were granted a joy ride to Eltham and back.

It seems that the disagreements in the community were resolved and the Council constructed the access roads soon after the station opened.

The establishment of the station at Montmorency led to development of the area for residential purposes. By the end of the 1920s many of the large blocks of the Montmorency Estate had been subdivided into conventional suburban building blocks and soon the fledgling Montmorency shopping centre appeared in Were Street.

Peak Hour on the Eltham Train, December 1911

According to a correspondent in ‘The Argus’ on Saturday residents of the Eltham district are desirous that the morning trains from Eltham should arrive at Melbourne an hour earlier. It is also contended that the time occupied on the journey on weekdays should be reduced to about the same as that taken on Sundays. It is stated by railway officials that some time ago a number of residents requested that the train which was due to leave Eltham at 7.33 a.m. should be started an hour earlier. Regular travelers who had made their business arrangements in connection with this train were consulted by the department, but as the majority of them were strongly opposed to any alteration of the time-table no further action was taken. On Sundays trains ran through to Eltham, and, as there was no transference of passengers at Heidelberg, the journey was naturally covered in a quicker time than on week days. When the new station at Heidelberg was built however, there would be very little detention.

Source: 1911 ‘ELTHAM LINE.’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 12 December, p. 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11638884

Eltham Line

According to a correspondent in ‘The Argus’ on Saturday residents of the Eltham district are desirous that the morning trains from Eltham should arrive at Melbourne an hour earlier. It is also contended that the time occupied on the journey on weekdays should be reduced to about the same as that taken on Sundays. It is stated by railway officials that some time ago a number of residents requested that the train which was due to leave Eltham at 7.33 a.m. should be started an hour earlier. Regular travelers who had made their business arrangements in connection with this train were consulted by the department, but as the majority of them were strongly opposed to any alteration of the time-table no further action was taken. On Sundays trains ran through to Eltham, and, as there was no transference of passengers at Heidelberg, the journey was naturally covered in a quicker time than on week days. When the new station at Heidelberg was built however, there would be very little detention.

Source: 1911 ‘ELTHAM LINE.’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 12 December, p. 5

Picture: Steam train at Eltham Station