III. Newlands – NSW Railways Boilermakers, Apprentice, Foreman & Boiler / Locomotive Inspector – Sydney & Eveleigh, Honeysuckle on the Great Northern Railway

John Newlands’ parents had left Glasgow as newly married’s on the “Portland” in 1837, along with other members of their extended Newlands family network. John was descended from Merchant Tailors in Glasgow and Bathgate, Scotland – yet his father had diverged to become Carpenter.

John Newlands (1838 – 1889), like his younger brother Alexander, chose to become a Boilermaker with the newly emerging NSW Railways. Possibly John’s whole working career was with the NSW Government Railways, in Sydney, including Eveleigh, and on the Great Northern Railway at Honeysuckle in Newcastle ? There are a lot of records with the NSW Railways & Trove throughout his career to work through.

John Newlands (1838 – 1889) NSW Railways Boiler Inspector, Foreman Boilermaker & Boilermaker, eldest son of John Newlands, Carpenter (1812 – 1852), had too short a life like so many of my Newlands relatives and ancestors.

For a lot of my own 37 year professional career, in Engineering CSI – Failure Analysis in heavy industry, I spent a great deal of time around Boiler Inspectors and industrial workshops like Machine, Fabrication and Heat Treatment Shops and sometimes the Diesel Loco Shop. This was a consequence of one of my specialties being the investigation of Industrial Boiler Failures. Perhaps it’s all in the genes ?

John was born in 27-12-1838 in Paddington Sydney. He had married Mary Frances Cope, married 31-03-1863 in St Andrews, Sydney (1, , ) and rose through the ranks to become the NSW Government Railways Boiler Inspector   …,

Milestones in John Newlands (1838 – 1889) Working Career :
1868 – commenced working with NSWGR by 1868 – perhaps even earlier ??
1876-77 – Leading Hand and Foreman Boilermaker – Honeysuckle Workshops, Great Northern Railway
1882 – appointed as Foreman Boilermaker- Sydney Workshops
1885 – appointed as Foreman Boilermaker- Sydney Workshops
1887 – appointed Inspector of New Ironwork – Sydney Workshops/ Eveleigh
1887 – appointed Inspector of Boilers – Eveleigh
1889 – appointed as one of the 2 NSWGR Boiler Inspectors – Eveleigh
Scenes from Everleigh below – from SRNSW


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

John  spent time at Honeysuckle Point at Newcastle on the Great Northern Railway, probably at the Honeysuckle Railway Workshops, which  had a long history also “The Honeysuckle Point Railway Workshops were established on this site in 1856 to service the independent Northern N.S.W. Railway System originating from Newcastle. The buildings remaining are rare examples of the design principles used for late 19th century industrial buildings and the 16 ton rope-driven crane in this building, Built by Craven Brothers of Manchester (restored in 1996) represents the culmination of 19th century materials handling technology. Dedicated by the Institution of Engineers, Australia and Honeysuckle Development Corporation 1996″ Reference Geocaching.

Unfortunately the Newlands family were forced to return to Sydney …

1877 – “ PRESENTATION.–On Tuesday evening last a number of the employees of the Great Northern Railway met to present a slight token of respect to one of their fellow workmen, on his leaving the Railway yard for Sydney. The present consisted of a finely chased gold locket, enclosed in satin lined case. The memento was presented to Mr.John Newland, leading hand in the boiler yard, who had so conducted himself amongst his fellow workmen as to secure the goodwill and good wishes of all with whom he had occasion to come in contact” ….

and another article from 1877 on his departure for Sydney :
On Saturday evening, the boiler-makers and helpers employed on the Great Northern Railway at Newcastle, entertained their late foreman, Mr John Newlands, at a banquet at Jones’ Assembly Rooms, Darby street, on the occasion of his leaving the district for Sydney. Mr Newlands has long enjoyed the respect and good-fellowship of his brother workmen, and the reunion-which took place on Saturday-was a most pleasing illustration of the appreciation with whioh Mr. Newlands’ bearing has been viewed by the workmen.  About forty persons sat down to an excellent spread, prepared by Mr. W Sherwood, of Blane street; and full justice was done to the good things. During the evening the chairman, Mr Pidgeon, presented Mr. Newlands with a neatly engrossed testimonial, setting forth the esteem in which he was held, signifying the regret on the part of the workmen at his departure from amongst them being necessary, on account of continued ill-health in his family, and hoping that he might long enjoy in his new sphere all health and prosperity. After spending a most enjoyable evening the company separated. Mr Newlands, we understand, has taken his departure for Sydney, in the hope that change of air may have a beneficial effect on the impaired health of his family.
note – John’s eldest daughter Mary Frances Anne Newlands had died in Newcastle in late 1876 and son John Joseph Newlands had died earlier in 1876.
In 1888 the Government Gazette indicated his involvement in a tender with respect to the Department of Railways for the purchase of materials of a house at Strathfield, known as Wardie. – 1, 2, 3,4,  5,.
John Newlands, the  NSW Government Railways Boiler Inspector died 05-03-1889 – 1, in 32 Calder Rd, Golden Grove / Darlington. With his premature death so soon after the opening of the new Everleigh Railway Workshops, he would have had limited opportunity to be involved there, compared with what might have been expected.
John was buried in the Independent Old Ground & Old Ground Extension of Rookwood Cemetery -THE OFFICERS and Members of King William III Loyal Orange Benefit Society and Manoah Lodge (he was a M.M. member ?)were invited to his funeral – 1, 2, there was a funeral address at the Devonshire St Congregational Church – 34,.   There would be numerous Memorial for many years – 1).

John’s only surviving son Ernest James Stephen Newlands (1875 – 1958) was a boiler maker like his dad. Where did he work ? To start with he began as an apprentice boilermaker in the Locomotive Engineers Branch at Eveleigh Railway Workshops in the 1890’s. What sort of training was involved – just on – the – job or was there some academic training as well ? The Boilermakers Department was well established at Sydney Technical College in 1891, and up in the Newcastle area, boilermaking classes were operating at the Newcastle School of Arts in 1890. So it likely that young Ernest was attending Boilermaking Classes.

  • 1891 – Apprentice Boilermaker – paid 1 shilling & 9 pence
  • 1894 – Apprentice Boilermaker and earning 4 shillings.
  • 1897 – Boilermaker’s Improver Boilermaker at Everleigh – a stepping stone between apprentice and tradesman, thus earning 7 shillings.

Could he have continued his working life as a boilermaker at Everleigh ?

Not quite  Railway Men but on the Trams – several of John’s daughters married Tramways men

  • Jessie Ure Newlands‘ husband, Matthew Kidson, a fitter, and
  • Minnie Cope Newlands‘ husband, Richard Molesworth Danks, also  worked on the Trams as well, but uncertain in what capacity – maybe another one to check with NSW State Records ?.

Alexander Newlands, Boilermaker,  (1844 – 1915) was the younger brother of John Newlands (1838 – 1889), tone of the two NSW Government Railways Boiler Inspectors.

  • 1891 – boilermaker at the NSW Government Railways Workshops at Everleigh
  • 1894 – boilermaker at the NSW Government Railways Workshops at Everleigh

His electoral roll entries indicate he remained a boiler maker – but did he remain at Everleigh ?

His three sons did not take up boilermaking, but worked for their uncle Stephen Forster in his manufacturing company. On Stephen’s death,  they established Newlands Brothers, a Sydney Manufacturing Company,  and one son, Alexander Newlands (1885 – ) was awarded an OBE for his services in the Australian Army Services Corps in WW1.

Everleigh Workshops

What of the stories of the Railway workshops ? The Newlands worked at Everleigh and Honeysuckle workshops – and probably elsewhere prior to the establishment of Everleigh.

By 1855 the Sydney to Parramatta railway line bisected Chisholm’s (Calder) estate, and in 1878 the entire site was resumed for construction of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops. Designed by the NSW Government Railways Chief Engineer, George Cowdery, the principal workshops sprouted here between 1882 and 1887. ” – from the Everleigh Stories website 

From Thematic History of Railway websiteThus railways were constructed to serve pastoral interests and, as migrants drifted from the goldfields in search of new opportunities from the mid-1860s, to promote settlement. In so doing, the railway network served to funnel commodities into the port of Sydney (and Newcastle in the case of coal). …. in the 1890s, Eveleigh Railway Workshops was the largest industrial complex in Australia, while the NSW government’s tender for a seven-year contract for the supply the state’s iron and steel requirements of September 1905 led to the establishment of Australia’s iron and steel industry at Lithgow in 1907…. During the First World War and under the isolationism of the 1920s, the NSW railways expanded into a huge vertically integrated empire that manufactured most of the items it required for its extensive range of operations“.

Periodically I attend Transport Heritage seminars on the Eveleigh site at Bays 4 and 5. Everleigh is accessed by Platform 10 of Redfern Railway Station, which also used to be known as Everleigh. It is a vast site, at 60 acres, though it seems perhaps not as vast as the workshops I was used to at Port Kembla Steelworks. Rolling stock and the old boilers still remain there at Everleigh. Once, hundreds of steam locomotives were worked on here in these workshops, by thousands of railway workers. Eveleigh was associated with the early days of the ALP had seen the start of the great 1917 Strike which spread across Australia involving 100,000 workers, during a tumultuous period in WW1. Railways Management had attempted to introduce the Taylor Card system for managing productivity. The Workshops were centred around steam locomotives, and with their demise, Eveleigh seemed to have been unable to evolve with the diesel locomotive technology. Old equipment was not updated soon enough and work practices did not adjust. Today Eveleigh has become the Australian Technology Park, though late in 2016 there were emergent pressures to redevelop parts of the site by Mike Baird’s NSW Liberal Government, noting a State Heritage listing on the site – 1, 2. A Mirvac media release stated “The Locomotive Workshop will be redeveloped to deliver high-quality, multi-purpose A-grade workspaces for major technology and innovation users and start-up businesses. ” Also – see Heritage Council of NSW SHR plan below.


There were up to 15 Bays, and while the buildings remain there has been some adaptive reuse of the internals :

  • Bays 1 and 2 – Blacksmith’s Shop, 1500T Divy Press, 40cwt double-arch steam drop hammer, a 20cwt heavy steam hammer plus numerous small hammers.
  • Bays 3, 4 and 4A – Boilermaker’s’s Shop, with Bay 3 featuring the Heat Treatment Room
  • Bay 5 – Canteen and Fitting Shop (part)
  • Bay 6 – Millwright’s Shop
  • Bays 7 and 8 – Fitting Shop
  • Bay 9 – Axles and Wheels
  • Bays 10, 11 and 12 – Machine Shop
  • Bays 13 and 14 – Tool and Instrument Room

There were another 10 bays in the Carriage Sheds

Back to 2017 -2018 – 130 Years of the South Coast Railway and My Own Railway History Journey



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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s