South Maitland Railway

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South Maitland Railway
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East Greta No1 Tunnel Colliery coal loader
kmStation
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0 Main North line at Maitland
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East Greta Junction
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East Greta No.2 Colliery
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East Greta
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East Greta No.1 Colliery
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Aberdare Junction
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6Stanford Merthyr Branch
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Glen Ayr Colliery
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Ayrfield No.1 Colliery
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Ayrfield No.2 Colliery
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Heddon Greta
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Bee Siding
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Kurri Road
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North Kurri Kurri
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Stanford Merthyr Colliery
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Pelaw Main Colliery
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Richmond Vale railway
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14 Weston
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Hebburn No.1 Colliery
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Greta Main Colliery
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Hebburn No.2 Tunnel Colliery
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Abermain
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Abermain No.1 Colliery
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Neath
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Neath Colliery
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Abermain No.3 Colliery
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Hebburn No.2 Colliery
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Abermain No.2 Colliery
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Elrington Colliery
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Aberdare South Colliery
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Aberdare Central Colliery
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22Caledonia
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Aberdare Colliery
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Bellbird Junction
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25 Cessnock
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Aberdare Extended Colliery
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Cessnock No.2 Colliery
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Bellbird Colliery
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Cessnock No.1 Colliery
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Pelton Colliery
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Stanford Main No.2 Colliery
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Maitland Main Colliery
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Millfield Colliery

The South Maitland Railway was once an extensive network of privately owned colliery and passenger railway lines which served the South Maitland coalfields in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia and were the second last system in Australia to use steam haulage, having used steam locomotives until 1983. [1] Only a single track of the main line remains in use to Bellbird Junction servicing the sole remaining colliery branch line to Pelton. The colliery at Pelton has closed but the surface facilities remain in use servicing the nearby Austar Colliery (formerly Southland Colliery & originally Ellalong Colliery). [2]

The South Maitland coalfields was the most extensive coalfield in New South Wales until the great coal mining slump of the 1960s. It was discovered by Lieutenant-Colonel Paterson's party when they were engaged in an exploratory visit to the Hunter River Valley during July 1801.

Hunter Region Region in New South Wales, Australia

The Hunter Region, also commonly known as the Hunter Valley, is a region of New South Wales, Australia, extending from approximately 120 km (75 mi) to 310 km (193 mi) north of Sydney. It contains the Hunter River and its tributaries with highland areas to the north and south. Situated at the northern end of the Sydney Basin bioregion, the Hunter Valley is one of the largest river valleys on the NSW coast, and is most commonly known for its wineries and coal industry.

New South Wales state of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In March 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 7.9 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.

Contents

Lines worked by the SMR

The first section of the line was opened to East Greta in 1893. [3] This line was built by the East Greta Coal Mining Company to service their East Greta Colliery. This colliery was joined in 1896 [4] by the East Greta No.2 Colliery which was located towards Maitland.

Gillieston Heights Suburb of Maitland, New South Wales, Australia

Gillieston Heights is a suburb of the City of Maitland local government area in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia, approximately 5.1 km (3.2 mi) from the Maitland CBD. Prior to 1967, the village was named East Greta however this was changed to honour former Maitland mayor and member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly John Gillies following a poll of residents. At the 2016 census, Gillieston Heights had a population of over 3,000.

Maitland, New South Wales City in New South Wales, Australia

Maitland is a city in the Lower Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Australia and the seat of Maitland City Council, situated on the Hunter River approximately 166 kilometres (103 mi) by road north of Sydney and 35 km (22 mi) north-west of Newcastle. It is on the New England Highway about 17 km (11 mi) from its start at Hexham.

In 1901 the railway line was extended from East Greta to Stanford Merthyr Colliery which was also owned by the East Greta Company. This line initially also served Pelaw Main Colliery (owned by J & A Brown) & Heddon Greta Colliery. [5] Haulage from Pelaw Main only lasted a short period as, after the 1905 opening of the nearby J & A Brown owned Richmond Vale Railway, the coal from this colliery was hauled over the RVR line to Hexham. [6] Several small collieries were later opened along the Stanford Merthyr branch.

Pelaw Main, New South Wales locality in New South Wales, Australia

Pelaw Main is a hamlet a few kilometres south-west of Kurri Kurri, in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia. It owes its origins entirely to the colliery there of the same name. It had a population of 1,027 in 2011

J & A Brown was an privately owned Australian coal family firm founded by James Brown (1816–1894) and Alexander Brown (1827–1877).

Hexham, New South Wales Suburb of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Hexham is a suburb of the city of Newcastle, about 15 km (9 mi) inland from the Newcastle CBD in New South Wales, Australia on the bank of the Hunter River.

In 1901 The Australian Agricultural Company and the Aberdare Collieries of NSW Ltd commenced construction of the Aberdare Railway to Cessnock, this line branched off the Stanford Merthyr line at a point that was named Aberdare Junction. This line was opened in stages, the section to Weston being opened on 29 December 1902, with the final section to Cessnock being completed in February 1904. [7]

The Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) is an Australian company that, as at 2018, owns and operates feedlots and farms covering around 7 million hectares of land in Queensland and the Northern Territory, roughly 1% of Australia’s land mass. As of July 2008 AACo had a staff of 500 and operated 24 cattle stations and 2 feedlots, consisting of over 565,000 beef cattle.

Cessnock, New South Wales Town in New South Wales, Australia

Cessnock is a city in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia, about 52 km (32 mi) by road west of Newcastle. It is the administrative centre of the City of Cessnock LGA and was named after an 1826 grant of land called Cessnock Estate, which was owned by John Campbell. The local area was once known as "The Coalfields", and it is the gateway city to the vineyards of the Hunter Valley, which includes Pokolbin, Mount View, Lovedale, Broke, Rothbury, and Branxton.

Weston water tank, note AA Co. cast into end panels Weston water tank.jpg
Weston water tank, note AA Co. cast into end panels

A passenger service was run over this line terminating at Cessnock Station. Several collieries were soon opened adjoining this line, being Hebburn Colliery (later Hebburn No.1) at Weston by the AA Co. in 1901, [8] Abermain Colliery (later Abermain No.1) at Abermain by the Abermain Coal Co. in 1903, [9] Neath Colliery at Neath by the Wickham & Bullock Island Coal Co in 1906 [10] and Aberdare Colliery at Caledonia by Caledonian Collieries Ltd in 1905. [11]

With the expansion of traffic the single track main line was duplicated in sections, the first being from East Greta Junction to East Greta in August 1903, followed by East Greta to Aberdare Junction in September 1906. Duplication to Cessnock was completed in February 1912. [12] The Stanford Merthyr branch from Aberdare Junction to Standford Merthyr remained single track.

In 1906 an end-on junction was made at Cessnock station for a short branch to Aberdare Extended Colliery. [13] In 1911 a branch line was constructed off the Aberdare Railway main line at Bellbird Junction (near Cessnock) to Bellbird Colliery by the Hetton Coal Co., which entered into an agreement with the East Greta Co for coal haulage. [14] In 1916 this branch was extended to Pelton Colliery which was being developed by the Newcastle Wallsend Coal Co. [15] In 1913 Caledonian Collieries constructed a branch line off the Aberdare railway main line to Aberdare South Colliery, [16] and this was followed in 1914 by a separate branch to Aberdare Central Colliery. [17]

In 1917 a second branch line was constructed from Bellbird Junction by the Wickham & Bullock Island Coal Co. to their new Cessnock Colliery (later Cessnock No.2). [18] In the 1920s they extended this line to Kalingo Colliery (later Cessnock No.1). [19] Several branch lines were built off the Kalingo extension to service collieries owned by other companies.

Lines worked by the coal companies

In 1912 the Abermain Coal Co. constructed a branch line to Abermain No.2 Colliery at Kearsley. This branch line and the existing Abermain No.1 Colliery sidings were then worked by the Abermain Co. using their own locomotives to the exchange sidings at Abermain where the East Greta Co. (& later SMR) would then work the trains to and from East Greta Junction. In 1923 Abermain Seaham Collieries Ltd opened Abermain No.3 Colliery on this branch. [12]

When opened by the AA Co. Hebburn No.1 Colliery was worked by locomotives owned by the AA Co. which shunted the trains to and from a set of exchange sidings that were adjacent to Weston Station. In 1918 the Hebburn Limited (the successors to the AA Co.) constructed a branch line from the exchange sidings to Hebburn No.2 Colliery, and this line was also worked by Hebburn Ltd using their own locomotives. In 1924 the Hebburn branch was further extended to Elrington Colliery which was jointly owned by Hebburn Ltd & BHP. [20] This extension was also worked by the Hebburn locomotives to the exchange sidings at Weston.

Passenger services

South Maitland Railway railcar No.1 travelling between Weston and Abermain in July 1962 1962 S.M.R Railcar, NSW.jpg
South Maitland Railway railcar No.1 travelling between Weston and Abermain in July 1962

In June 1902 a passenger service commenced between East Greta Junction and Stanford Merthyr. Intermediate stations were at East Greta and Heddon Greta, and, with the construction of the Aberdare Railway to Cessnock, a station named Aberdare Junction was opened at the junction of the Aberdare & Stanford Railways. Stations were also initially opened at Weston, Abermain, Caledonia & Cessnock, with further stations latter opening at B Siding, North Kurri Kurri and Neath. Passengers had to make their own way between East Greta Junction and West Maitland stations and this was the source of many complaints. During 1903 the service was extended to West Maitland. The connection to the government passenger service was further improved in 1905 when a platform was constructed at West Maitland for the use of East Greta trains. [21] These trains were operated by the East Greta Coal Mining Co, initially using a number of second hand ex New South Wales Government Railways (NSWGR) 4 and 6 wheel passenger carriages. In the following years additional similar carriages were obtained with the total of these ex NSWGR railway carriages reaching 20. From 1908 to 1925, 16 new bogie end platform carriages similar to the carriages running on the NSWGR were also obtained. [22] [23] A carriage shed was constructed at East Greta Junction to house the passenger carriages when not in use. [24] With the opening of the line to Cessnock passenger services were also operated from Cessnock to Maitland. Stations on this line were located at Aberdare Junction, Bee Siding, North Kurri Kurri, Weston, Abermain, Neath, Caledonia and Cessnock. [25]

In 1929-30 a lengthy industrial dispute known as the 'lockout' occurred which effectively shut all of the collieries on the South Maitland Coalfield. The railway was soon involved in this dispute with both coal and passenger services being stopped during the dispute. During the dispute the majority of SMR's passenger carriages were destroyed on 1 March 1930 when the carriage shed at East Greta Junction was burnt down. Negotiations were then entered into with the Department of Railways, New South Wales, for the government railways to take over the passenger service, which occurred on 13 April 1930. During 1940 a direct Sydney to Cessnock express service was introduced. The government operated services lasted until 1961 when SMR took over the majority of the services when they introduced three railcars built by Tulloch Limited. [26] The services run by SMR lasted until 1967, when the SMR railcar services were withdrawn, with only the few through services run by the government railways remaining. These ceased in May 1972 when all passenger services ended. [27]

Locomotives

Locomotives owned by East Greta Coal Mining Co./ South Maitland Railways Pty Ltd

LocomotiveTypeBuilderBuilder's No.BuiltEntered serviceWithdrawnNotes
14-4-0T Manning Wardle 39186218951911ex New South Wales Government Railways 6N - scrapped 1911
1 (2nd)0-8-2T Avonside Engine Company 1596191119111937Sold 1937 Bulli Colliery
20-4-0ST Avonside Engine Company 1415190019011934Sold J & A Brown - Preserved Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum
30-6-0ST Avonside Engine Company 1436190219021928Sold Sydney and Suburban Metal Co.
40-6-0 Kitson and Company 2118187719021922-
50-6-0 Kitson and Company 2299187919031918"New England" - Scrapped 1927
60-8-0ST Avonside Engine Company 1464190319041930Sold 1930
70-6-0 Kitson and Company 2029187919041922"Murrumbidgee" - Scrapped 1927
80-6-0ST Avonside Engine Company 1487190419051928Sold Gunnedah Colliery
90-8-0ST Avonside Engine Company 1481190419051935Sold Mount Kembla Coal Co.
100-6-0Vale & Lacy, Sydney [28] [29] 10187319061911ex New South Wales Government Railways 21N
10 (2nd)2-8-2T Beyer Peacock & Co 552019111912Jan 1987Preserved Hunter Valley Training Company
114-4-2T Beyer Peacock & Co 1629187719071935ex New South Wales Government Railways CC Class No.84 - scrapped 1935
124-4-2T Beyer Peacock & Co 1628187719071935ex New South Wales Government Railways CC Class No.83 - scrapped 1935
130-8-2T Avonside Engine Company 1541190819081930Sold BHP Newcastle 1944
140-8-2T Avonside Engine Company 1559190919091930Sold Hetton Bellbird Coal Co. 1936 - Preserved Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum
154-6-4T Beyer Peacock & Co 5603191219121965Scrapped October 1973
164-6-4T Beyer Peacock & Co 5638191219121946Scrapped October 1973
172-8-2T Beyer Peacock & Co 579019141914Dec 1983Preserved Hunter Valley Railway Trust
182-8-2T Beyer Peacock & Co 590919151915Dec 1984Preserved Hunter Valley Training Company
192-8-2T Beyer Peacock & Co 591019151915Nov 1981Preserved Richmond Vale Railway Museum
202-8-2T Beyer Peacock & Co 599819201920Feb 1985Preserved Hunter Valley Railway Trust
214-4-2T Beyer Peacock & Co 3335189119191935ex New South Wales Government Railways M51 - Sold NSW Public Works Department 1940
222-8-2T Beyer Peacock & Co 605519211921Sept 1987Preserved Richmond Vale Railway Museum
232-8-2T Beyer Peacock & Co 605619211921Jul 1980Preserved Hunter Valley Railway Trust
242-8-2T Beyer Peacock & Co 612519221922Sept 1987Preserved Richmond Vale Railway Museum
252-8-2T Beyer Peacock & Co 612619231923Sept 1987Preserved Richmond Vale Railway Museum
262-8-2T Beyer Peacock & Co 612719231923Jul 1983Preserved Hunter Valley Railway Trust
272-8-2T Beyer Peacock & Co 613719231923Mar 1987Preserved Hunter Valley Railway Trust
282-8-2T Beyer Peacock & Co 613819231923Dec 1983Preserved Hunter Valley Railway Trust
294-6-4T Beyer Peacock & Co 6139192319231965Scrapped October 1973
302-8-2T Beyer Peacock & Co 629419261926Sept 1987Preserved Richmond Vale Railway Museum
312-8-2T Beyer Peacock & Co 529519261926Jun 1984Preserved Hunter Valley Railway Trust

[30]

SMR 10 at Maitland during Hunter Valley Steamfest SMR10 steamfest 2006.jpg
SMR 10 at Maitland during Hunter Valley Steamfest

Upon the formation of South Maitland Railways in 1918 the new company took over the existing locomotive fleet of the East Greta Coal Mining Co. [31] In 1935, with the withdrawal of all the other classes except the three passenger locomotives, the fourteen 2-8-2T wheel arrangement 10 Class became the main motive power, assisted on the shorter runs by the three ex passenger locos (15,16 & 29).

Beyer Peacock & Co, Manchester, built the fourteen 10 class locomotives to a design specifically for the East Greta Coal Mining Co/SMR. After the withdrawal of the last passenger tank loco in 1965, the 10 class locos then solely worked the coal traffic both on the SMR and from March 1973 they also worked the Richmond Vale Railway until its closure in September 1987. The four locomotives working the Richmond Vale Railway upon closure were the last four steam locomotives in normal commercial operation in Australia. [32] After the end of steam on the SMR all fourteen were placed under a preservation order. The leader, SMR 10, was the most recent to be restored to working operation, and it is currently located along with No.18 at the Hunter Valley Training Company which is based in the former South Maitland Railway workshops at East Greta Junction. SMR 17, 20, 23, 26, 27, 28 and 31 are stored at the Hunter Valley Railway Trust. The locos at Rothbury have been since sold to the Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum and approval for this was obtained from the NSW Heritage Council for the relocation of these engines. [33] Nos.19, 22, 24, 25 and 30 are located at the Richmond Vale Railway Museum at Richmond Main. [34]

Upon steam working finishing on the SMR in June 1983, operation of the coal trains was taken over by the State Rail Authority with 47 and 48 class locomotives. Following track strengthening Pacific National began operating EL class locomotives on the line in 2010.

Abermain line locomotives

LocomotiveTypeBuilderBuilder's No.BuiltEntered serviceWithdrawnNotes
10-6-0ST Avonside Engine Company 1606191119111961Transferred to Richmond Vale Railway Hexham 1955 - scrapped 1966
20-6-0ST Avonside Engine Company 1916192219221969Transferred to Richmond Vale Railway Hexham 1963 - Preserved Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum
1 Saywell0-6-0T Hudswell Clarke 290188619201925Sold 1925 Howley & Co. Glenrock Railway

[35] [36]

The three locomotives purchased by the Abermain Coal Company are shown above. In 1922 the Abermain Coal Co. merged with the Seaham Coal Co. to form Abermain Seaham Collieries Ltd. In 1931 Abermain Seaham Collieries merged with J & A Brown to form J & A Brown & Abermain Seaham Collieries Ltd (JABAS). The two Avonside locos kept their Abermain numbers but were transferred to Hexham when requiring major repairs. [37]

J & A Brown No.5 also worked the Abermain line on loan from the Richmond Vale Railway from October 1936 to September 1939. [38]

Hebburn line locomotives

LocomotiveTypeBuilderBuilder's No.BuiltEntered serviceWithdrawnNotes
20-6-0ST Beyer Peacock & Co 2575188418841938Transferred from AA Co's Newcastle system 1903 - scrapped 1947
30-6-0ST Beyer Peacock & Co 4558190319031920Transferred from AA Co's Newcastle system 1918 - sold 1920 Hoskin's Ironworks, Lithgow
62xx0-6-0 Robert Stephenson and Company 2195187419031927ex New South Wales Government Railways 62xx - ex Newcastle Coal Mining Co.
20202-6-4T Beyer Peacock & Co 3206189119341955ex New South Wales Government Railways 2020
20172-6-4T Beyer Peacock & Co 3289189119391956ex New South Wales Government Railways 2017
12-6-2T Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns E7841195519551967Scrapped 1970
J & A Brown 262-6-4T Beyer Peacock & Co 2567188519671967ex New South Wales Government Railways 2013 - Scrapped 1970
30134-6-4T Beyer Peacock & Co 4456190319671976ex New South Wales Government Railways 3013, On hire from the RVR - Transferred to Hexham 1972 - Preserved Lachlan Valley Railway 1981, now Canberra Railway Museum

[39] [40] [41] [42] [43]

Locomotives 1, 2, 3, 62xx, 2017 & 2020 were Hebburn Ltd locomotives and worked the branch lines to Hebburn Nos.1 & 2 Collieries & Elrington Colliery. 62xx, 2 & 3 were transferred from the AA Co's Newcastle railway system. 62xx was also used on Aberdare Railway construction trains. [39] [40] [41] When loco No.1 failed in 1967 and since Hebburn Ltd was now part of Coal & Allied, J & A Brown No.26 was placed on loan to Hebburn. No.26 soon developed problems and was replaced by J & A Brown 3013, which although despite being bought for the Richmond Vale Railway was transferred to Hebburn upon purchase from the Department of Railways. Upon closure of Hebburn No.2 Colliery in 1972, 3013 was transferred to the RVR at Hexham where it was used until 1976. [43] J & A Brown No.26 never returned to the RVR & was cut up at Hebburn No.1 Colliery in 1970. [42]

Wickham & Bullock Island/ Cessnock Collieries locomotives

LocomotiveTypeBuilderBuilder's No.BuiltEntered serviceWithdrawnNotes
Pygmy0-6-0T Hudswell Clarke 29618881916c1961Fitted with Leyland petrol engine
-0-6-0ST Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. 1738192219231933Sold John Lysaght Pty Ltd, Port Kembla - Preserved New South Wales Rail Transport Museum - on loan to Richmond Vale Railway Museum
530X0-6-0ST Vulcan Foundry 83418791932c1961ex New South Wales Government Railways 530X - partially scrapped - remains preserved Richmond Vale Railway Museum - on loan to Yass Tramway
Liverpool0-6-4TBeyer Peacock & Co.2607186619341943ex J & A Brown No.6

[18] [44]

Safeworking

Neath Signal box, Feb 1995 Neath Signal box.jpg
Neath Signal box, Feb 1995

Upon the opening of the Aberdare Railway to Cessnock signal boxes were located at: East Greta Junction, East Greta, Aberdare Junction, Stanford Merthyr, Weston, Abermain and Cessnock. The signals & lever frames etc. were built by McKenzie and Holland. Safeworking on the single track line was by electric staff. Upon duplication of the main line safeworking was provided by Tyers 3 wire block instruments, which were later replaced by Tyers 1 wire, 3 position instruments. The Stanford branch was worked by electric staff from Aberdare Junction. [45] During duplication an additional signal box was opened at Neath. Additional signal boxes were later opened at Mt Dee, Bee Siding, Aberdare South Junction, Aberdare Central Junction and Bellbird Junction on the main line, and Kalingo Junction on the Kalingo branch. The Bellbird branch from Bellbird Junction to Bellbird Colliery, and the Pelton branch from Bellbird Colliery to Pelton were worked by electric staff instruments. From 1942 the Kalingo branch was worked by electric staff instruments from Bellbird Junction to Kalingo Junction. [46] All the remaining branches worked by the South Maitland Railways were worked by Ordinary Train Staff. The colliery branch lines were worked by the "one engine in steam" system.

By 1976 with the downturn in traffic signal boxes remained only at East Greta Junction, Weston, Neath and Caledonia. The double track had been cut back to Caledonia in 1973 with the closure of the lines to Cessnock station & Maitland Main Colliery; the electric staff instruments for the Bellbird branch were transferred to Caledonia signal box. On 27 November 1982 Weston Signal box closed. This was soon followed by the end of double track working on 7 December 1982 when the down line was taken out of use. Electric staff working was then used between East Greta Junction and Neath, and between Neath and Caledonia. [47] Caledonia signal box closed from 10 June 1983 and the section from Neath to Pelton was then worked by Ordinary Train Staff, this was changed to Ordinary Train Staff and Ticket from 18 December 1984. Neath Signal box closed 3 September 1996 leaving the entire branch from East Greta Junction to Pelton worked as a single section by Ordinary Train Staff and Ticket. [48] The signal box at East Greta Junction remains open.

Changes in ownership of South Maitland Railways

The railway line between East Greta Junction and Stanford Merthyr was owned and worked by the East Greta Coal Mining Co. When constructed the Aberdare Railway was jointly controlled by the Australian Agricultural Company and the Aberdare Collieries Ltd of New South Wales, who entered into an agreement with the East Greta Company for haulage over the line. [49] [50] In February 1906 the AA Co. purchased the Aberdare Collieries' share in the Aberdare Railway giving them 100% control of the Aberdare Railway, but the East Greta Coal Mining Co. continued to work trains over the line. [51]

In 1918 the main line railway interests of Hebburn Ltd and the East Greta Coal Mining Co. were merged to form South Maitland Railways Ltd. This new company took over the ownership and operation of the Stanford Merthyr line and the Aberdare Railway, as well as all of the locomotives and passenger and goods rolling stock of the East Greta Co. The new company also took over the haulage over other colliery lines that were previously worked by the East Greta Co. [31] On 8 and 9 December 2018 South Maitland Railway celebrated the centenary of this merger as well as 125 years since the running of the first train in 1893. [52]

In April 1931 the East Greta Coal Mining Co. was taken over by J & A Brown and Abermain Seaham Collieries Ltd, which gave them a 50% share of SMR. [53] In the 1940s due to changes in company laws South Maitland Railways Ltd was changed to South Maitland Railways Proprietary Limited. With the merger of JABAS with Caledonian Collieries Ltd in 1960 and the formation of Coal & Allied Industries Ltd (C&A) the 50% share in SMR held by JABAS passed to this new company. In 1967 Coal & Allied purchased Hebburn Ltd which then gave them 100% control of South Maitland Railways. [54] The SMR continued as a subsidiary of Coal & Allied until 1989 when SMR Pty Ltd was bought by a private consortium. [55]

In 1936 a connection between the South Maitland system and the nearby J & A Brown owned Richmond Vale Railway was constructed from Pelaw Main Colliery to the SMR at Weston. This line was used by JABAS for any gas coal from its 3 Abermain collieries and Stanford Main No.2 Colliery at Paxton that was to be shipped at the company's coal loader at Hexham, any coal that was to be shipped at the Dyke at Newcastle still had to travel over the SMR to East Greta Junction & the NSWGR to Newcastle. The trains were worked by South Maitland Railways from these collieries to an exchange siding adjacent to Pelaw Main Colliery, where the trains were then worked by the RVR to Hexham. With the opening of the coal preparation plant at Hexham the traffic over the line increased as the small coal that was to be washed also travelled over the link line. The line fell out of use after the closure of rail operations at Abermain No.2 Colliery in December 1963 & the connection with the SMR was lifted in August 1964, the line was lifted during 1973. [56]

This connection to the Richmond Vale Railway provided an alternative connection to the Main north line at Hexham and was used as an alternate route to move the coal from the various Cessnock area collieries (including those not owned by JABAS) when the South Maitland lines were flooded at East Greta Junction during the 1949-1952 & 1955 floods. During these floods RVR & SMR locomotives worked trains over both networks, with the SMR locos being serviced at the JABAS loco shed at Pelaw Main Colliery. During some of these floods when the SMR loco fleet was trapped at East Greta, locomotives were also hired from the New South Wales Government Railways. [57]

Relocation for Hunter Expressway construction

A 900 metre long section of the line has been relocated, with a new bridge constructed to carry the railway line over the Hunter Expressway. The new section was built to mainline 1XC standards, with 60 kilogram per metre rails and concrete sleepers. The ends of the new section were adapted back to the existing lightweight rails. The owners of the line were given back the existing rails and servicable hardwood sleepers from the bypassed section of line. [58]

See also

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Further reading