2017 – 2018 – 130 Years of the South Coast Railway & my own NSW Railway History Journey

Research Notes

I’m President of a Railway Museum, the Black Diamond Districts Heritage Centre Museum at Bulli, and we will be commemorating the 130 years of the South Coast Railways over 2017 – 2018. We’ve appreciated the support of Transport Heritage NSW, including Mr Peter Lowry and Mr Ian Sheppard. There are a number of interesting books and articles on building and extending the NSW Railways, including the South Coast Railways.

And I also descend directly from a number of NSW railway families, as does my husband, and we are probably related to other railway families from the 1850’s to the 1990’s.. so far we’ve found about 40 people in our families – employed or connected to the Railways or Tramways. Nearly a century and a half …. of working on the Railways, mostly on the South Coast or Hunter Valley Railways, but with some in Sydney, including at Eveleigh, and across much of the railways in NSW.

The NSW Railways are a big part of our families’ stories. Yet I’ve never really considered looking at our “Railway relations” as a focus before. Perhaps it’s now time.

There seem to have been so many dreams and more than a little heartache as they worked along those steel rails.

The first passenger trains ran on the NSW South Coast Railways on June 21 1887, and by 1888 it was possible to take the train all the way from Sydney to Wollongong. Finally the South Coast would be truly “opened up”, no longer dependent on rough rides up and down the mountain or facing rough sea voyages. 2017 is also the Centenary of the final connecting of the railway between Sydney and Perth.

The NSW railways opened up many areas of NSW, and must have had an impact on Coaching Companies like Cobb and Co. People travelled by train to take holidays and to their honeymoons. There were the Funeral Trains which left from Sydney’s old Mortuary Station – and Greyhound Trains.

The NSW Railways  were also a source of employment and a career for many people, across generations in families. And working on the NSW Railways meant they could be transferred around a lot of country areas in NSW. My family members certainly were – moved up and down the NSW coast, and across many areas in country NSW.

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Who were they, these Railway & Tramway men – not to mention two women connected with the Railways ? What sort of steam & diesel locomotive engines, as well as rail motors ran on the rails in their areas  ?

Mostly the Railway & Tramway men, as well as the Railway women in our families were of the Steam era – having retired and passed away before the transition to Diesel and the  later Electric.

I. 1854 – 1860’s : Robinson Notes :  “The Robinson’s of Great Sheffield and Building the Great Northern – Hunter River Railway”.

  • Joseph Robinson emigrated from England in 1854 to help build the Great Northern – Hunter River Railway – Hunter Valley Railway man – my great great great grandfather
  • Joseph’s sons – Frederick, James and George Robinson were all listed as carpenters on the Ellenborough 1854 List and so it is likely that they were also Hunter Valley Railway men –  my great great great uncles

II. 1850’s s- 1960’s : Whitelaw Notes : A bootmaker in a Mid 19th Century Railway Construction Camp in the Hunter

Scottish immigrant bootmaker and would be gold digger, Robert Hamilton Whitelaw, repaired Great Northern Railway construction workers’ boots at the Belford Railway camp near Singleton,  in the 1860’s. His son in law James Pead, and some of his Pead grandsons & great grandsons worked on the Railways and Newcastle Tramways – see Section IV below.

III. 1860’s – 1950’s : Newlands Notes : “Newlands – NSW Railway Boilermakers, Apprentice, Foreman & Boiler – Locomotive Inspector – Sydney & Newcastle on the Great Northern Railway”

  • John Newlands (1838 – 1889) – Boilermaker, Boilermaker Foreman  & Boiler Inspector – Sydney and Great Northern Hunter Valley Railway man – a great great great uncle
  • Son Ernest Stephen James Newlands – started as an apprentice boiler maker at Eveleigh Workshops
  • (Sons in law Matthew Henry Kidson & Richard Moleworth Danks – Tramways)
  • Brother Alexander Newlands (1844 – 1915)
  • Great grandson – see Kenneth Charles Joy (1902 – 1952) was also an Engine Driver on the Railway.


IV. 1870’s – 1960’s : Pead Notes  – Railway Men across NSW & a Railway Bride 

The Pead’s – three generations of Railway men of Hunter Valley origins.

  • James Pead – Hunter Valley Railway Man – Engine Driver tragically killed in an horrific steam engine boiler explosion accident – great grandfather to my husband David – and also James’sons, grandsons and a grandson’s bride …
    • Henry James Pead
      • James Charles Hamilton Pead
      • Harry Hamilton Pead
      • Ronald Hamilton Pead
      • John Arthur Pead
      • Arthur Hamilton Pead
    • James William Pead
      • Leonard Pead married fellow Goulburn railway employee, typist Joy Stockbridge
    • John Arthur Pead – also worked with Newcastle Tramways
    • Arthur Robert Pead
  • James Pead’s older brother John Joseph Pead & son John Leslie Pead – Hunter Valley Railway Men – Loco men who worked across much of NSW – great great uncle and a cousin (well 1st cousin twice removed to be pedantic !) to David

V. 1870’s – 1950’s : Joy notes“Three Generations of the Joy Family Network on the NSW GR at Eveleigh, Sydney & across NSW” 

  • Alfred George Joy – Boilermaker , Fitter, Driller – in Sydney brother in law to John Newlands (1838 – 1889)- great grand dad
  • Son in law – Arthur Henry Ball – Ticket Collector / Inspector
  • Kenneth Charles  Joy, Alfred George Joy’s grandson, a great nephew of Locomotive Inspector John Newlands, nephew of James Alexander Hicks, brother in law of Russ Callcott  – a South Coast Railway man –  Engine Driver – great uncle and Mum’s favourite uncle

VI. 1870’s – 1930’s : Tulloch Notes – Hunter Valley

  • James Alexander Tulloch was both Station Master and Post Master at Branxton in 1878 – my  great great great  uncle
  • Augustus Ansoul of Hamilton died 1934

VII. Mainly 1900’s : Callcott Notes – Railway Station Men across NSW

  • Tom Callcott/Calcott – Hunter Valley Railway man – my great great granddad was a Railway Station Master (RSM)
  • Alf – Hunter Valley Railway man – son of Tom Callcott – my great granddad was a Railway Station Master (RSM) too
  • Russ – a South Coast Railwayman – son of Alf Callcott & brother in law of Ken Joy – my grandfather was an Assistant Railway Station Master (ARSM), though disappointed he never made RSM like his dad and grand dad

VIII. Mostly 1900’s: Hicks Notes  – Trams & Railways across NSW 

  • James Alexander, son of Henry Thomas Hicks – was a South Coast Railway man – my great great uncle
  • George Hicks, Sydney Tramways man – a cousin to my grandmother
  • note – Ken Joy (1902 – 1952), nephew of James Alexander Hicks and brother in law of Russ Callcott – a South Coast Railway man –  an Engine Driver – my great uncle and Mum’s favourite uncle

IX. 1900’s – Today: Byrnes Notes –  Junee & Sydney Railway – also PWD at Port Kembla  

  • Arthur James Byrnes was a locomotive engine driver in the Illawarra, but with the PWD rather than NSWGR – great grandfather to my husband David
  • H Grabsch & I Grabsch – grandfather and father to the partner of our daughter

X .1900’s – Today: Adams Notes – Across NSW  but mostly down the South Coast

  • Ted Richardson – a South Coast Railway man – Fettler & Level Crossing Controller – one of my favourite great uncles in my Adams Family
  • Mary – a single mother doing the Laundry for the Boggabilla Railway Barracks, Nanna to me and Aunty Mary to most of the Adams Family
  • Robert Green – brother in law to my brother, a railway maintenance engineer
  • Kerrie Anne Adams (Christian) – President and Curator of Black Diamond Heritage Centre Museum at Bulli Railway Station – Materials Engineering Manager & Boiler Failure Investigation & Remaining Life Evaluation  Specialist


Perhaps there are even more ??

And where did all of these Railway & Tramways people work ? So far identified …

See below a slideshow of lots of wonderful photos, including from the NSW State Archives and Records Office .. bringing to life those times.

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  • Hunter Region – junction for the Great Northern Railway, North West Line and North Coast Line
    • Hamilton, Broadmeadow, Cardiff, Honeysuckle, Maitland, Branxton
  •  Sydney
    • Everleigh Workshops, Chullora, and Railway House in Sydney – perhaps Enfield
  • North Coast Line
    • Casino, Taree
  • Great Northern Railway
    • Armidale
  • North West Line
    • Moree,
  • Great Western Railway
    • Dubbo, Bathurst, Lithgow
  • Broken Hill Line
    • Parkes
  • Great Southern Railway
    •  Albury, Goulburn, The Rock near Wagga Wagga, Cootamundra,  Junee,  Harden,
  • Connection Western to Southern Railway
    • Cowra
  • Bombala Line
    • Cooma
  • South West Line to Hay
    • Narrandera,
  •   South Coast Line
    • Thirroul, Unanderra, Wollongong


To be honest, of all the far flung places across the NSW Railway Systems, it seems that only Broken Hill, Bourke, Hay and Cobar are missing from the list of where they worked !

With all the resources that Trove has to offer, maybe it’s finally time to discover more of their stories ?

About Kerrie Anne Christian

Interests - Travel, Photography, Developing Websites, Social Media, Writing, Local History, Researcher, Genealogy
This entry was posted in Hunter Valley, Railways and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to 2017 – 2018 – 130 Years of the South Coast Railway & my own NSW Railway History Journey

  1. John Pead says:

    A very interesting read, I’d be interested in visiting the museum. John Arthur Pead was my dad, and Henry James was my Grandfather.

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