The Sydney Railway 1855

The Sydney Morning Herald Monday 20 August 1855 p.5
No. 1 – The Original Train

THE SYDNEY RAILWAY. If not exactly the formal opening, the actual opening of this great national institution took place on Saturday last. Through the kindness and liberality of Mr. Randle, the contractor for the work, a number of gentlemen were invited to an experimental trip to Parramatta. The number attending waa somewhat over sixty. The distance to Parramatta was accomplished in 39 minutes; the distance back in 47 minutes.

It is very difficult to record with quiet and unexcited feeling an event of this description. We have heard for years past the advantages which railroads would afford us. We have heard them, from tongues eloquent in promise of future prosperity, but have heard them from voices deep with despair at the present state of our means of transit in the colony. We have also heard certain voices, " harsh as the raven on its midnight tree," that railroads never could, and never would be established in this colony. The experiment of yesterday has solved the problem, which seemed so difficult. As we always prophesied give but the alms to a good national undertaking, and the Institution will follow. The great fact of Saturday in this colony will put down prejudice—the substantial national benefit to be derived from it will defeat party spirit. A hundred thousand people will travel on that line of railway ere many months are over. All, and singular, of those hundred thousand people will say they wish to travel in no other way, and will be well prepared to pay the expanse of such a line of road. New South Wales has advanced quickly in the stage of communities. Little more than half a century has elapsed from her birth, and she has through many difficulties become a great colony. Give her railroads and in another ten years she will be a great nation.

Some people may think that the colonists of New South Wales are sluggish in the execution of great works of this description. Such may be the case, though we doubt it, but let them see whether we are slow to appreciate and administer the great benefits which spring from them.

The railway to Parramatta is now completed, it is only fourteen miles in length. This cost the colony more than half a million of money. But to perform such a work at all in a community consisting of only a quarter of a million of people is a triumph. There have been delays, there have been failures, probably there have been extravagances. In what great national enterprise ever entered into, in any country, have not these matters crept in? We ought now to be satisfied that our end is accomplished ; that "in spite of spite," we have made a good, serviceable, and useful line of railroad. The whistle along that line will now do more to spread railways through the country than all the speeches in its favour have made. The formation of this branch is the conquest of what seemed to be the insurmountable barrier to a system of transit, without which, under modern civilization, nations cannot exist. None who have tried the railway to Parramatta will be content to stop there. None who have to travel up the country will be content till its "travelling amenities" have penetrated to the innermost depths of the interior. Although not publicly opened, the accomplishment of a railway to Parramatta was decided on Saturday last. The train, with upwards of 60 passengers, went there, and came back with perfect success and safety. The train started from Chippendale precisely at one o'clock. In less than a minute it got into full speed, and it arrived at the Newtown station in about 5 minutes. The Petersham bridge was passed exactly at eight minutes past one, and the viaduct at Long Creek was crossed at nine minutes past one. The junction of the Liverpool-road was made in 12 minutes, and the Ashfield station was leached in 12½ minutes, Cutt's public-house was passed at 22 minutes, and Homebush at 23. The whole distance to the terminus at the junction of the Liverpool and Dogtrap roads, at the entrance to Parramatta, was accomplished in 39½ minutes. The return trip, including a stoppage at the Newtown atation, was performed in 47 minutes. There was no effort, in either going or coming, to put the engines to their greatest speed ; on the contrary, the greatest caution was observed in going over those parts of the line which had been recently laid. The car- riages in which the company travelled were equal to those employed in the first class trains on the most celebrated lines in Europe; and although it is evident that the rails want ballasting to some extent, the extreme ease of motion justifies every confidence in the excellency of the work.

The great event was accomplished quietly and modestly. The hon. the Colonial Secretary, and the Colonial Treasurer, the president of the railway commission, were present. Many large capitalists and earnest well-wishers of the colony attended also, and ex- perienced that gratification which all generous minds feel in the successful consummation of a great national enterprise. After Saturday last, New South Wales takes another high and proud step in the scale of communities. She has now her own railroad—and its very cost so much derided by its foes is evidence of her power and importance. But in forming this railway she has taken the main step to greatness. She has shaken hands with the great protector of civilization, and under his fostering care she will grow great. It is not right we should conclude this very meagre memorandum of the important event of the 18th August without some notice of those who have been most actively engaged in bringing the work to a suc- cessful issue. To the principal engineer, Mr. Wallace, we believe much credit is due ; since he assumed something like the control of the works, the railway has gone ahead. To Mr. Randle, the con- tractor for the works, too much praise cannot be assigned. His advent to this colony may justly be looked upon as a public benefaction. Without his spirit and his enterprise, it is not too much to say that for years we might have looked in vain for the completion of the " Great Australian Trunk line." Enemies and deprecators he will have, and ought to have, for who could wish to perform such a work and not have others jealous of him? But jealousy will pass away, and the work will remain. Bitter- ness of feeling will pass by, and a better appreciation of good conferred will spring up. Maligners and evil speakers will sleep, we hope, in peace, in the same quiet cemetery in which the stone that bears the name of Randle shall be one of the proudest memorials of the early history of New South Wales.

The train having arrived at Chippendale, the party repaired to the engine-house, and after inspecting the ponderous machinery on the floor of the building, proceded to the upper room, where a repast of a superior description was tastefully arranged, to which ample justice was done.

The chair was taken by the honorable Colonial Treasurer, Mr. C. Kemp occupying the vice-chair. The first toast proposed by the Chairman was, as usual, " Her Majesty the Queen," which, as well as the one that followed — " Prince Albert, Albert Prince of Wales, and the Royal Family " was enthusiastically responded to.

The CHAIRMAN then proposed the " Army and the Navy," and, in doing so, said he hoped, when the Railway was formally opened in the course of a short time, the joy of the occasion would be enhanced by, the news of the taking of Sebastopol, by the brave fellows whose health he had now the pleasure of proposing.

The toast was received with loud applause.

The Honorable Postmaster-General (Major Christie) returned thanks. He said there were several present who had had the honour of bearing arms under her Majesty's banner, who regretted they were no longer in that honourable service. He had no doubt, however, their successors would at the present crisis do their duty with as much promptitude, and in as praiseworthy a manner as they themselves would have done, had they remained in the service. (Applause). He had much pleasure in returning thanks on behalf of those who would prove themselves well worthy of their laurels. (Loud cheers.)

The CHAIRMAN again rose and said, as the duty of proposing the health of the Governor-General had been reposed in his hands he had great pleasure it discharging it, and he would ask those present to consider his Excellency on this occasion, not simply as Governor-General, but as a professional engineer, who took the deepest interest in the undertaking of which they that day had had an opportunity of judging, having seen the railway now aearly completed, in successful operation. (Cheers). He hoped some system of railways, cheap in construction, rapid in execution, and suited to the wants of the colony, would be brought into operation by his Excellency. Although he thought cheap railways were expedient in the first instance, he had no doubt, the mode of construction adopted in reference to the present line would ultimately prove most beneficial. (Hear, hear.)

The toast was warmly responded to.

The CHAIRMAN rose to propose the next toast. He said he would not give " Success to the Sydney Railway," because the time for that had not yet come. He hoped, however, it would arrive in about a month, from the present date, when no doubt so important an epoch would be duly celebrated. He thought, however, untimely as it might be to propose the toast above mentioned, he might fairly propose " the Chief Engineer", under whose superintendence the Sydney line waa constructed. (Loud cheers ) All present had seen enough to-day to satisfy them the work had been constructed on sound and proper principles, that it was substantial, and would remain to the credit of the colony. (Loud cheers.) He had great pleasure in making the proposition.

The toast was very warmly responded to.

Mr. Wallace returned thanks, assuring the assembly, since his Arrival in the colony, he had never been so much gratified as at the expressions of gentle- men who had that day travelled over the line to Parra- matta. (Cheers.) Great doubts had been entertained by some in reference to the safety and proper con- struction of the railway ; but he was happy to say they were now dispersed. (Loud cheers ) Whatever system of railways might be adopted, he felt sure that ultimately lines of good, sound, and perfect construction would be the most beneficial. (Hear, hear.) What remained to be seen in reference to the railway so near completion was, whether it would be profitable. (Hear, hear.) Of that he had very little doubt. He believed it would be as remunerative as almost any of the English lines of railway. (Cheers.)

The CHAIRMAN said he had great pleasure in rising to propose the health of Mr. Randle. (Prolonged cheering). The hon. Colonial Treasurer resumed : The way in which the proposition was received was evidence sufficient that all present appreciated Mr. Randle as they ought to do—that they knew him to be a man of superior character and talent, ready to do anything, and who could do anything on the shortest possible notice—from the drainage of the domain to the taking of Sebastopol. (Laughter). He thought all present would agree with him, though, perhaps he ought not to say bo much in the presence of the gentleman alluded to, that he was one of the best and most useful men that ever came to the colony. (Loud cheers.) He proposed the toast wishing him (Mr. R.) every success in this colony, especially in connection with the railway now nearly brought to a successful issue.

The toast was drunk most enthusiastically.

Mr. Randle said, being much more accustomed to the making of drains and railways than of speeches, he could not express his thanks so adequately as the manner in which his health had been drunk demanded. (Cheers.) He hoped his best thanks, sincerely tendered, would be received. (Cheers.) No one was better pleased than he with the success of the trip which had been made to-day. When the trip was proposed a short time previously, he hardly thought it possible, but having consulted his officers, and knowing every confidence could be reposed in his men, it was decided it could be done,—with what success, all had seen. (Cheers.) He was the head of the department, but he had every confidence in those about him. Ever since he had conducted heavy works, he had been convinced the grand secret was to get a good staff of officers and men, and he might say he had in his employ a body of as fine fellows as ever were seen in Great Britain, so that he had no hesitation in asserting he was in a posi- tion to accomplish as much work as could be accomplished by any staff of men equally numerous in any part of the world. If they would give him the contract for 100 miles of railway, they would make it in two years (cheers). His only fear was that he should not be able to employ those officers and men in future. If he could see his way clear to do so, he should be very happy indeed. (Cheers.) He thought it was of the utmost importance railways should be pushed into the interior. (Hear, hear.) Any undertaking at all practicable, with such men and officers at his command, he was in a position to carry out. (Loud cheers.)

The toast was heartily drunk.

Mr. Randle rose to propose the next toast. He said the work executed, which had brought about the result those present had this day wit- nessed, had been a work of patient and steady endurance. But it could never have been carried out without the money. There must have been some responsible party, and there was therefore much due to the Sydney Railway Company, the health of the President and Directors of which he had great pleasure in proposing. (Cheers.) He also alluded to the prompt manner in which the cheques had been met by the hon. Colonial-Treasurer. The CHAIRMAN in rising to return thanks, said, he was in the position of a man making his last dying speechand confession. (Laughter.) He believed this was, if not the last day, probably the last week he should respond to the title ot President of the Sydney Railway Company. But although he should have no official connection with it, he should ever retain a most deep interest in an undertaking, of which he felt proud of having had a share, though small, in its management. He thought thanks were due to the Directors for their labours for many years under the greatest possible disadvantages. (Hear, hear.) At last, however, we were gratified at seeing these labours brought to a successful issue. (Cheers.) He (the Colonial Treasurer) was not the person to whom thanks were due in reference to the money business, they were, however, due to his friend at the foot of the table (Mr. C. Kemp) who was, perhaps, more than any one in the community, called upon to return thanks to the toast proposed. (Hear, hear.) There were very few to whom the colony was so much indebted for the introduction of railways as he. (Loud cheers, and cries of " Mr. Kemp.")

Mr. KEMP rose amid loud cheers. He said it was in 1846 the attention of the colony was first directed to railways, and committees formed for making inquiries as to the best mode of carrying them out, and it was three years from that date when it was determined to take the decisive step of forming a company. (Cheers.) The three persons whose names were then put down for shares were Mr. H. G. Smith, Mr. Cowper, and himself. (Cheers.) From that time to the present he had stuck, through evil and good report, to the undertaking. (Cheers.) Many persons had from various causes withdrawn. He, however, had but one object in view, to see the railway to Parramatta completed. (Loud cheers.) Many persons looked upon the system not only with disfavour, but with ridicule. That, however, did not deter the few who had fully considered the subject from going on with it. (Loud cheers.) He must say he viewed the proceedings of this day with some exultation. (Cheers.) Had it not been for his determination not to leave the colony until he had been to Parramatta by railway, he should have been at the opening of the Great Exhibition at Paris. (Loud cheers.) The ridicule and opposition manifested towards those carrying out the railway works of the colony had determined him not to leave until he had seen one stage in active operation. (Loud cheers.) Much had been said about cheap railways. He, however, must confess he had very great doubts of their being carried out to the ex- tent some persons imagined possible. (Hear, hear.) When it was recollected that the mere macada- mising of George-street cost £20,000 per mile after the street was formed, it would appear almost a matter of impossibility that railways could be had for three or four thousand pounds per mile, as some supposed. (Hear, hear.) He did think, however, that in many favourable districts a properly constructed single line of railway might be laid down for £10,000 per mile, and that would be the cheapest road which could be made. (Hear, hear.) To all present the proceedings of this day had been most gratifying. (Hear, hear.)— To himself and a large number of the assembly the charm of novelty was added. (Hear, hear.) Many were probably unable to form any decided opinion upon the nature of the works over which they had travelled, but the Directors of the company had inspected them, and he never heard men of scientific knowledge express an opinion unfavourable of the works, but on the contrary, he had heard many who had seen the greatest works of the age, express their opinion that the line from Sydney to Parramatta was in every respect equal to any line in any part of the world. (Loud cheering.) Much was undoubtedly due to the energy and ability of Mr. Randle, the contractor. (Applause.) He (Mr. Kemp) had had many opportu- nities of seeing the conduet of that gentleman since his arrival in the colony, and he had no hesitation in expressing his opinion that his arrival had been of the greatest benefit to the community generally. (Loud cheers.) He had introduced a large amount of energy, zeal, and ability in carrying out large works which had not before been witnessed in this colony. (Loud cheers.) And he believed him to be in every way a most valuable colonist. (Cheers.) He had expressed his opinion thus fully, and he thought others who thought with him should express themselves in like manner, for there was an under current at work excited by envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness, which was poisoning the minds of those who knew Mr. Randle only by report. (Hear, hear.) These rumours had been so freely circulated that it was only common justice those who had had an opportunity of seeing Mr. Randle and knowing the impossibility and groundlessness of the charges brought against him, should exprese their opinion. (Loud cheers.) He thought it right to state he did not make these remarks from any personal friendship, for their acquaintance had been entirely of a business nature. (Hear, hear.) He had never been into Mr. Randle's house, nor had Mr. Randle been into his except on one or two occasions on matters of business. (Hear, hear.) He spoke entirely on public grounds, and said it was only due to Mr. Randle he should speak thus fully. (Loud and continued cheering.)

Mr. C. KEMP then obtained permission to propose a toast. The health of those who had found the money for, and others connected with the railway had been drunk, but he was now about to allude to a body of men who deserved to be included. Five hundred railway labourers had been brought out to this colony, and he would say 500 sturdier men, or better specimens of the sons of our native soil were never imported. Those men began their work in earnest, did work, and had worked as we had seen, and no doubt the money spent in bringing them out was a profitable investment to the colony. He was very happy to propose the health of Mr. Gibbon and the railway labourers, of whom he had heard with pleasure Mr. Rundle speak in such high terms. (Loud cheers )

The toast was loudly responded to. Mr. GIBBON returned thanks on behalf of himself and the "navvies," for the kind manner in which the toast had been drunk, and hoped before long as happy a meeting would take place at the end of a railway extending 100 miles hence, and that they would have the chance of making the line in question. (Loud cheers.)

The party broke up shortly after five o'clock, evidently highly gratified with the experimental rail- way trip from Sydney to Parramatta.

No comments: