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The Depot
No 111 — October 2015
Photo of Working oh the railways exhibition
The highly praised “I’ve Been Working on the Railway” exhibition ended its run at the Museum on July 12th. Thanks to the curators: The Workshops Rail Museum (Ipswich Qld) and Ann Frederick (THNSW, Thirlmere) who helped setup the display
(Photo: Keith Ward)

In this edition

1. Valley Heights Station
2. Thomas Day Out at Thirlmere
3. Murder at Valley Heights
4. The Valley Heights mixed
5. New exhibit at Valley Heights
6. Visitors to Valley Heights
7. Fathers Day 2015
8. New motive power arrives at Valley Heights
9. P class gets its tender
10. Transport Heritage NSW CEO visit
11. Retirees Group
12. Future Happenings

The new look Depot Diary

Hello and welcome to this “new look” DD, the latest pages in the journey that started way back in 1913, when the first stones were broken and the first sod turned, as the railway workers of the day set about creating their new home. Little did they realise that the structure they built would still be standing over 100 years later as a lasting monument to their labours.

In the same way we have embarked on a new era of sharing your stories with other members, through not only this publication, but also with more regular updates via THNSW E-news and articles in “Roundhouse” magazine for those members who subscribe. We are keen to hear your feedback, ideas, suggestions and, probably, criticisms along the way! Please send to (articles may be edited for space or content reasons). Of course, there may be further changes to the format, content and maybe even the direction of this journal as we strive to make it full of interest!

I must thank our contributors to this edition, and the considerable effort put in by member, Grant Robinson, in collating the submissions, and Andrew Tester, for his great work in keeping DD going over many years! We all hope you read, enjoy, digest, discuss and share this and future diaries. Cheers!

Keith Ward, Publicity Manager VHLDHM

1. Valley Heights Station

Following an initiative by Tim, the enthusiastic SM at Valley Heights, we have installed some Museum directions & information in an A1 poster frame on the down platform. Tim has also set up a terrific display of photos, leaflets and information in the waiting room. Although this station is not manned full time, and has low patronage, this presentation on our Museum is a credit to his effort and deserves to be seen by more travellers!

Valley Hts station photo#1
Valley Hts station photo #2
Valley Hts station photo #3
Photos: Keith Ward

New members at Valley Heights

Anderson, Aidan
Anderson, Ashton
Anderson, Samantha
Austin, Dean
Austin, Noel
Blewden, Mark
Burban-Dentler, Jean Luc
Cameron, Mitchell
Cancian, Dominic
Chandler, Donald
Creasey, Robert
Crum, Brenda
Crum, Jim
Farbridge, Jake
Flynn, Peter
Hargrave, Julian
Hay, David
Heron, Paul
Holz, Paul
Keenan, Melissa
Kelt, Bruce
Kent, Eric
Kent, Phillip
Kenyon, Sam
Krzyszton, Janette
Leeding, Nicholas
Luf, Henk
Lynch, Donald
Lynch, Kathleen
McFarlane, Robert
McShannon, Rita
Miller, Stephen
Murray, Peter
Murray, Sandra
Payne, David
Pickworth, Alicia
Pickworth, Kale
Place, Caroline
Ray, Nick
Reynolds, Aaron
Sebesfi, Alan
Stiff, Craig
Stiff, Tristan
Stone, Paul
Thorne, Ross
Vukmirovic, Aleksandra
Ward, Eileen
Ward, Matthew
Watts, Clive
Wyatt, Samuel
Young, Vivienne
The committee and members extend a warm (possibly belated!) welcome to those listed and look forward to your ongoing support & involvement.

Jeff Russell, Membership Officer VHLDHM

2. Thomas Day Out at Thirlmere

The chilly mornings of July 11th and 12th saw teams of volunteers from Valley Heights head south to run the barbecues for the Thomas Day Out at Thirlmere. In case you’re wondering, it was colder there than in the Mountains! Over 800 sausage rolls were prepared on each day and the Museum gained some hard earned funds from the adventure. From left to right, Sam Wyatt, Eileen Ward, Serge Sequen, Jeff Russell, Dave Grove & Keith Ward were in the Saturday team, and Bruce Coxon, Ted Dickson, Ross Allen, Sue Fulton, Allan Garbutt & Andrew Tester were on deck on Sunday. A fantastic effort by all concerned brought in some cash to keep the treasurer happy!
The Saturday team ready to go (Photo: Keith Ward)
The Sunday team hard at work (Photo: Ross Allen)

3. Murder at Valley Heights

A second round of filming using the TF standard goods 5461 took place on Monday 13th July. Another round of murders at the depot! Another happy film maker but don’t expect to see the movie at your local cinema. This series of short films has been made by students from one of Sydney’s Film Schools and the door was opened for us by member, Sam Wyatt.
5461 features in Murder
The smoke machine creates atmosphere on Valley Heights movie set
Photos: Keith Ward

4. The Valley Heights mixed

Saturday August 1st saw another full day of trials of “Stevo” (the Stephenson 0-6-0ST No 2) in conjunction with the recently recommissioned LFA carriage. Events went exceedingly well and this unit, which is under the operational arm of the Museum’s colleagues at STARPS (Steam Tram & Railway Preservation Society), will be a welcome addition to the Museum’s attractions when ready for public running later in the year. Two more centenarians back on the track and about to earn their keep! A great credit to all those concerned and a wonderful new drawcard for Valley Heights.
Photo of Valley Heights mixed
Trial run of the Valley Heights Mixed: Stevo + S truck + LFA (Photo: Grant Robinson)

5. New exhibit at Valley Heights

Another recent addition to the interesting exhibits at “The Valley” is a Cement Hopper delivered by low-loader from Greystanes, where it had been on static display for over 10 years.

Accompanying the unit on its journey to VH was a 2 tonne rock which carries a descriptive plaque of the hopper’s history. This hopper had previously been converted for use as a coal wagon and will be restored back to its original condition for possible use in a “Mixed Goods” consist with “Stevo”.

The unit was unloaded on to temporary track laid in record time by the Per Way team at VH, ably led by John Stanley, who has also been busy supervising the resurrection of the crossover points between the arrival & departure roads adjacent to the Museum shop. This partly reinstates the track layout from the 1950s and will greatly facilitate traffic movements when “Stevo” is in full steam!

Photo: new cement hopper
Photo: Keith Ward

6. Visitors to Valley Heights

Visitors to the Museum on the regular Open Day of Sunday August 9th were greeted by a perfect Mountains spring day! Visitations have been trending up for some time now, and this day was no exception. First time customers, some from as far afield as the Sutherland Shire, were “lured” in by the temporary highway signs which are displayed on open weekends to great advantage. These are showing their age and it’s hoped that an updated system will be on the agenda soon.

With the kind assistance of Andrew Chechlacz from the Sydney Bus Museum, over 500 leaflets promoting VH were distributed to visitors riding on heritage buses at the Classic Car Show at Eastern Creek on Sunday 16/8. The “clippies” did us a good turn!

The visit of the Sundowner Car Club on our regular Open Day of Sunday 23rd August brought the sights and sounds of the 70s & 80s back to Valley Heights. Complete with a variety of fancy artwork, one featuring steam locos, a small fleet of vehicles was displayed on the forecourt for all to see! Morning tea & a guided tour were included in our guests’ package and good use was made of our gas BBQ.

Sundowners visit photo
Photo: Keith Ward

The first Tuesday in September saw a large group of some 30 vehicles from the Oasis Car Club arrayed on the forecourt and the bullring, with the overflow accommodated on the lower grassed area.

The morning tea prepared by member, Eileen Ward and friend Annette Smart, was eagerly devoured and followed by guided tours, a Steam Tram ride and lots of interesting questions!

Club members enjoyed the delightful spring weather in the Mountains and headed off well pleased with their visit. 

The HD/HR Holden Car Club paid the Museum a visit on their club run on the regular Open Day of 13/9. Although small in number, the group enjoyed their Devonshire Tea, Steam Tram rides and guided tour, followed by a tasty barbecued steak!

OASIS Car club photo #1
Oasis car club photo #2
OASIS Car cub photo #3
Photos: Eileen Ward

Tuesday 15th September was the day for the arrival of a group of children with special needs from Winston Hills. This proved to be a highly successful visit and was carried out with great aplomb by the tour guides, Rod Hawkes, Jeff Russell, Andrew Tester & Grant Robinson.

The children were very well behaved and were a credit to their school.


Mid-week events, such as the ones above, although needing extra planning and volunteer support, are always welcome. Valley Heights is the perfect site for special interest groups and attractive rates can be negotiated for birthday parties, wedding photography, film shoots, and so on. Please contact Keith Ward at the Museum on (02) 4751 4638 (leave message) if you know anyone who might be interested.

7. Fathers Day 2015

Sunday September 6th was our SPECIAL OPEN DAY for FATHERS DAY.

After many years absence from this space, the Museum turned out a series of special treats for Dads and all men who showed up too! Despite early showers, a “trickle” of visitors eventually started to wander up the driveway. By 1100 this had increased to a “stream”, and by 1200 a “torrent”. This was an extremely well patronised event, and a credit to all those volunteers who gave up their family day to be involved!

The inaugural treat of having men ride on the front of the Steam Tram worked flawlessly and the selection of the “lucky” man to ride with the fireman provided some extra laughs! Visitors left with good memories of a day well spent and the success should lead to a repeat event next year.

Special thanks to the shop staff of Bruce Coxon, John Carter & Eileen Ward who had to deal with the various challenges of managing the unusual ticketing arrangements and the shortage of staff on the day.

Photo of Fathers Day tram rides
Fathers Day visitors ride the steam tram (Photo: Keith Ward)

8. New motive power arrives at Valley Heights

A sight unfamiliar to Valley Heights arrived “out of the blue” (and white?) on August 26th. The crisp Mountain air was pierced by the rumblings of the low-loader which again made the trek westward to deliver a much needed asset to the Museum, in the shape of X Class diesel tractor X206 from Chullora. Read on to hear more about this!

Monday 7th September was the occasion of the transfer of the newly arrived X200 Diesel Tractor to the rails for a light run into the Roundhouse.

Again the day dawned bright and was the perfect backdrop for the operation, overseen by Per Way Manager, John Stanley. With the grateful assistance of Peter Maskill whose essential presence as the accredited driver was thanks to "Head Office" (who of course are also to be thanked for their foresight in securing this asset for Valley Heights), X206 performed without fault, once the correct set of rubber bands could be found! The presence onsite of the 80 tonne crane needed for the lift was also the opportunity to move the Museum's other recent addition, the PRH cement hopper.

The diesel will of course come into its own as motive power for Open Days in summer when fire risk may prevent steam operations, and of course as a "shunter with attitude" around the site!

(Purists will wonder about the colour scheme… but a return to Indian Red is still some time away.)

Photo of X206 arriving at VH
X206 arriving at Valley Heights 26 Aug 2015 (Photo: Keith Ward)
Photo of X206 in the roundhouse
X206 in the Roundhouse 7 Sep 2015 (Photo: Ted Mullett)

Donations to purchase diesel

In late 2013 some members kindly made donations to the Museum specifically to assist with the purchase of a diesel loco that could be used for shunting operations and to enable the Museum to run passenger rides for the public on prescribed Fire Ban days or those of high fire risk.

At the time negotiations were well advanced with the owner of the loco, and it seemed that the transaction would be completed to our benefit.

Due to factors beyond our control, this unfortunately did not take place, and subsequent attempts to resurrect that project were unsuccessful.

Since the Museum is now the proud custodian of diesel loco X206 acquired by THNSW, the executive committee has allocated funds for the transfer by crane of the loco to the Ash Road and its subsequent movement to the Roundhouse for assessment, restoration, and servicing. We would like to thank donors again for their interest in this project and the opportunity to re-direct donations from the original intention, i.e. the loco purchase, towards the worthwhile venture of its relocation and future operating costs as a working exhibit at Valley Heights.

9. P class gets its tender

The presence of the crane on site on Monday 7th was used to re-unite the P class loco 3214 with its cab. Great strides have been taken with that exhibit's progress in the last few weeks. This project has been fast-tracked by Large Exhibits Manager, Rod Hawkes, with the valuable assistance of members, Phil Pedley, Glenn Hargrave and Chris Troy, amongst others.

Large exhibits manager Rod Hawkes with re-assembled 3214 (Photo: Ted Mullett)

10. Transport Heritage NSW CEO visit

Transport Heritage NSW CEO Andrew Killingsworth hosted a Q & A session at the Museum on Saturday 12th September. This well patronised function was slotted in between two committee meetings that Andrew also gave up his time to attend, and featured some well-directed questions, with robust and well received answers from our CEO.

A tasty barbecue was enjoyed by all and provided an extra opportunity to engage with our guest on an informal basis.

Policy regarding firewood

The Museum frequently receives donations of firewood for use as it sees fit. Most of this is consumed in the operation of the Steam Tram or the Stephenson Locomotive.

Sometimes we have more than we can use or it isn’t stacked neatly so we are left with an unsightly stockpile of wood. Roslyn Reynolds with assistance from Peter Lind, Chris Troy, Dave Pedley, Bob Creasey, Terry Ganly and Phil Pedley has done a great job of tidying this area and it now looks quite smart.

Occasionally the donated firewood is deemed useless for the purposes of firing engines and we have to dispose of it (at our cost!)

Because of the above situation, we need to remind members of our policy for the future donation of firewood:

“Effective immediately, we do not need any more for the foreseeable future.
The Museum will request firewood donations once the existing supplies are reduced to manageable levels”

11. Retirees Group

The Retirees are still busy doing jobs about the Depot. Our numbers are small at times but the spirit and camaraderie are still evident. Volunteers are always welcome. We are at the Depot the week after the second Saturday (except for this December – the week after the first Saturday). Feel free to drop in have a ‘look’.

Tasks completed over the last few months include:

  1. Monthly checking of the termite traps to ensure damage from these pests does not re-occur.
  2. Painting the roof of the DLE’s building. This required the erecting of scaffolding, sanding, priming, an undercoat and the final coats.
  3. The downpipes on the southern side of the Amenities Building have been replaced and painted.
  4. A new door has been hung to the ladder room to replace the existing shabby one.
  5. Replacement of an existing fibre glass sheet in meal room with a new polycarbonate sheet.
  6. A paint touch up of a couple of window architraves of the Amenities Building facing west was carried out – the damage was due to the elements.
  7. Much work has been done in the storeroom of the Small Exhibits section. The walls needed cleaning prior to painting. Shelves have been added to two of the walls. Carpet tiles were placed on the floor. The next job here is to install a ceiling – this will be a major task.
  8. A tall single leaf wooden ladder is currently being repaired to make it safer.
  9. A shelf was installed above the fire place in the library to allow storage space for binders.
  10. Rust repairs were carried out to the flat iron roof above the meal room, ladder room and store room as torrential rain had occasionally made its way through.
  11. An acro prop was installed under a truss between bays 4 and 5 as a temporary measure (courtesy of Local Hire Shop, Valley Heights). This will ensure safety until the truss is repaired and strengthened. A beam has been replaced at the front of bay 5.

Jeff Russell, Membership Officer VHLDHM


LHS Local Hire Shop card
Austrains logo
Blue Mountains Coffee Roasters logo
On Track Models logo

We wish to thank our other important sponsors:

  • Bunnings Hardware, Valley Heights
  • Jenolan Caves
  • Featherdale Wildlife Park, Doonside
  • Richard Butcher, author
  • Blooms the Chemist, Springwood
  • Springwood Historical Society
  • Turning Page Bookshop, Springwood
  • Abcoe, Penrith
  • Macquarie Road Auto Repairs, Springwood
  • Headway Hair, Springwood
  • Scenic World, Katoomba
  • Royal Hotel, Springwood
  • Mac’s Daks Menswear, Springwood
  • Hunter Shoes, Springwood
  • Coles, Winmalee
  • Signwave, Penrith
  • Terrys Truck Hire, Springwood
  • Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Melbourne

12. Future Happenings

Smart phone app

The Museum will soon host the first installation of a brand new "Smart Phone®" app to provide a new level of interaction with our visitors. Beacons transmitting radio waves will be placed strategically around the site, and patrons will be encouraged to download the free app to their phone or tablet, then receive information about the Depot and some of the exhibits. This has the significant advantage over some other systems used in art galleries and so on, that it will stay on the user’s device, so they can refer to it later or send it to a friend. At first, this will offer text & images only, but will later include audio & video. This exciting initiative results from collaboration with a local start-up business which is using The Valley as their trial site.

Caves Express RBR featured on Caves website

More on the RBR…. now featured in the “blog” of Jenolan Caves, with a brief history and images of this wonderful restoration, a credit to all. See:

Special dates

Sun 25 Oct 2015

Official public launch of Stevo with LFA carriage. A whole new experience at the Valley!

Sun 25 Oct 2015

Our smartphone APP “Giddiguru” (see article above) will be released onsite and promoted with lots of fanfare. If you have “tech savvy” friends, bring them along for this bold step into the 21st century! Curious? You can download it now at

Sun 25 Oct 2015

NSW Railways Remember “Lives On The Line: Commemorative Artwork Installation”. With the cooperation of artists Celeste Coucke & Stephen Fearnley and arranged by Ann Frederick (THNSW Thirlmere) we are hosting a chance for all visitors to “dirty their hands”! By pressing a small lump of clay into a mould portraying a railway artefact, everyone can be part of history! 8,447 of these pieces will later be fired and set in the floor at Thirlmere as a permanent memorial to the 8,447 railwaymen who enlisted for WWI.

Sat 14 Nov 2015

11:00 VHLDHM Annual General Meeting at the Museum

Sat 12 & Sun 13 Dec 2015

Santa visits Valley Heights on the weekend of 12th/13th December on the Steam Tram (subject to operating conditions e.g. fire ban/risk or late finishing track work).
Popular with kids of all ages, this is a highlight of the year at Valley Heights!
Please pass these dates on to family, friends, neighbours & workmates, so that their children or grandchildren don’t miss out! No need to pre-book, just turn up on the day!

Sun 13 Dec 2015

Santa will draw the 2015 “Christmas” raffle on 13th December; tickets are now available.
We have a good & varied offering of eight prizes, each of about $100 value. The raffle is a “Winners’ Choice” format; first winner drawn has first pick, and so on.
Thanks to our generous donors. If you would like to help with sales, books of 50 tickets are available from Keith Ward on

Publicity Manager’s Trivia Quiz Corner

From which defunct railway platform could a good diver (with a running jump!) end up in a major Sydney river? (answer next edition)

Copyright © 2015 Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum, Blue Mountains Division of Transport Heritage NSW,
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.