Another year done and dusted… another year wiser??? As you read our contributors’ reports, you’ll realise a lot of water has passed under the bridge in recent times. The museum has surged forward in torrents, but (as usual!) there are showers of projects in the pipeline and many new jobs to dip your toes into. As we write, drought relief is desperately needed, so my watery analogies form my own personal rain dance! The challenge ahead is to manage our resources. How could we achieve that?
Firstly, our ratio of volunteers to members is only about 20%. This means there is a vast reservoir of untapped talent out there just waiting to sail onto our radar! This also means there is a small, solid and dedicated stream of members who show their interest in the museum by actively participating. Of course, not everyone can be involved, through poor health, incapacity, or distance for example. However, we do have many volunteers who jump in at the deep end, despite being restricted in some way. Please seriously consider offering your time, even if it’s only once or twice a year? Plan well ahead and let Jeff Russell our friendly memberSHIP officer know your availability for Open Days, special events or mid-week activities. You could even contribute from home? Give it a try?
Secondly, we could make our boundaries more fluid? It’s very easy to float in our own pond and not be interested in what’s going on elsewhere (Dam the rest!). So what can we do to help each other? Don’t work in a bubble…you could share your ideas and updates on what you’re doing with other members, even volunteers from other areas? Ask for their opinions, and canvass suggestions that might make your task more fun or more relevant? Encourage interaction with those of different gender, background, experience or age? Don’t swim against the tide!
Thirdly, you might ask about your colleagues’ wellbeing: “How are you today?” is not corny; it can express genuine interest, and possibly concern. Some of us are quite private in nature, but it is still nice to know that your mates care (NB thanks to all who followed the ‘progress’ of my eye surgery during the year). How much do we know about our fellows: their past life or experiences, hobbies, holidays or family? You might even have a submerged bond that launches a new raft of friendship!
So if your eyes are watering after all these ‘liquid’ or nautical references (28 including this sentence!), take a deep breath and plunge into the pool that is DEPOT DIARY No 123…
The New Year is again upon us and I find myself once again Chairperson of your museum, a great honour indeed.
I wish to thank Henk Luf for his role as Chair for the last two years. He only came recently to Valley Heights and did a terrific job as Chair. Fortunately, Henk will be staying on our committee as Planning Manager and greeting all the children in the model room on open days.
Your museum has seen many improvements over the last 12 months, these include:
Many of our big ticket construction items have now been completed but a few remain. One that we are currently working on is replacement of the retaining wall along the access road to the museum. Although not in imminent danger of collapse, it is best to plan for replacement whilst funding is possibly available.
A member’s day is in planning for next year where all volunteers will have their Safety Inductions renewed and members will be able to ask questions of their committee and tour the site to see all of our achievements.
2019 has been a highly successful year with so many events organised and led by Keith Ward that we have all been looking forward to the Xmas break. I wish to thank all volunteers of the museum for the hard work as collectively you have all added to our success. Special thanks to STARPS for their continued support and friendship, the Christian Model Railway group and the Springwood Historical Society for adding to the success of the museum.
Special thanks go to Jennifer Edmonds and Gordon Strachan and all those at THNSW that have been invaluable in their support of your museum.
I hope you all had a Merry Xmas and wish you and your families a Happy and safe New Year. I look forward to seeing you later, from February onwards as I will be overseas on holiday until then with Jeff Russell acting as your chairperson.
The Open Day of Sunday 11 August was a ‘normal’ day except for the appearance of snow on the upper mountains. This lead to roads being blocked by traffic (exacerbated by a major road accident on the highway and Springwood being closed for a parade) that stretched on both sides of the museum for several hours! Although this probably prevented some visitors from reaching us, there was a windfall in that a number of family groups gave up on their westward journey and decided to visit the museum, having seen the signs. In all, a better than average day was an agreeable, but unexpected outcome.
A very short visit was made by a small group arranged by SSK Tours on the afternoon of Monday 19 August. Thanks to Bruce Coxon and Debbie Inwood, they were made welcome and entertained with a brief guided tour. I’m hoping that our relationship with this company, which specialises in tours for inbound South Koreans, will lead to larger groups in future.
Sunday 25 August saw a visit by members of the Sprite Car Club. These distinctive British sports cars made a colourful display in front of the roundhouse. Numbers were also boosted by a small tour group from the Central Coast, arranged by Blunsdon Tours.
Fathers’ Day on Sunday 1 September was celebrated with free entry for Dads and a discount for all men. A special treat for adult males - the option to ride with the Steam Tram driver, or by ballot with the fireman, again proved popular. This annual event attracted over 170 visitors with many extended families taking advantage of the day to enjoy a cross-generational outing. Numbers were down on last year, but were close to the 5 year average.
Our History Week event on Sunday 8 September was the culmination of several months of planning and resulted in an influx of new visitors to the museum. With many new or one-off activities on site, there was also plenty of opportunity for our regular guests to experience a different slant on familiar surroundings. Special thanks go to Ted Dickson, Ted Mullett, Andrew Tester, David Hunt, Dave & Chris Wainwright, Debbie Inwood and Robyn Stock for their valuable contributions on the day, as well as Steve Corrigan, Glenn Hargrave, Serge Sequen and Bob Hendy in our retail space. Henk Luf and Peter Banks performed their magic in the model rooms and the STARPS team helped keep to the schedule that enabled visitors to participate in a range of activities. We had valuable assistance and support from Sean Cooper & Steve from the Transport Signal & Communications Museum at Kurrajong, and old friend Ron Dawson, who obligingly supplied his 1925 model T Ford, guided on its return trips by Dave Grove as Duty Officer who kept a watchful eye on the action. New photographic displays were carefully curated by Mike Pensini and installed by members of his team including Ellen Anderson and others. A copy of the program for the themed day ‘Memory & Landscapes’ appears below:
The regular Open Day on Sunday 22 September saw numbers boosted by a birthday party group of 25. The three year old was the centre of attention and her mother Nikki later responded with a glowing letter of appreciation that reflects the total effort that many people put in behind the scenes — not just on the day. Thanks to you all!
Sunday 29 September heralded the event that some more senior members had been waiting over 140 years for… the anniversary of the exact date in 1879 when Steam Trams commenced running on Sydney’s streets. Excited STARPS members spent several days preparing a remarkable selection of rarely or never before seen exhibits (with assistance from the Collections Team) including memorabilia and photographs from the 1879 Sydney International Exhibition that had stimulated the inception of the trams. STARPS Chairman Craig Connelly formally opened the ceremony, with invited guests Macquarie Federal MP Susan Templeman, MAAS (Powerhouse Museum) Transport Curator Margaret Simpson, STARPS founder member Bruce Macdonald and Don Loughry, whose great-grandfather Edward accompanied the first shipment of four trams from the manufacturer, Baldwin in Pennsylvania to Sydney in 1879. Our guests addressed members and the public with great enthusiasm about their own personal journey, involvement with tramways, or their connection with Valley Heights.
No 103A, our suitably decorated tram, performed up to its usual high standard and carried a higher than normal number of passengers on the day, many of whom enjoyed a piece of 140th birthday cake! A good time was had by all and the day brought an above average month to a satisfactory close.
On Saturday 19 November, we welcomed Beyer-Garratt 6029 for overnight stabling and refuelling after its special run to Bowenfels for the 150th anniversary of the western line opening to that point. The consist returned to Valley Heights Station, where the loco was cut off and made its way into the Depot, possibly the first ever entry of a 60 class? The rest of the train was diesel-hauled to Sydney before returning to the Depot for a well-earned break. The following day saw five well patronised Penrith–Springwood shuttles with 6029 leading westbound and showing off a full head of steam as it climbed the escarpment. Parallel runs by the Steam Tram enabled the Museum to increase its profile by creating plenty of interest on this extra Open Day that also gave our visitors the chance to view the passing Garratt from the elevated position near the compressor shed. Both locations provided unique vantage points and rare photo opportunities. A short video clip by Eileen Ward was posted on the Facebook page of ‘NSW Railways Past & Present’ and has proved popular. View it at: https://facebook.com/1199662807/videos/10220855220989205/
Thanks to the many who helped ready the site for the weekend, including Ted Dickson, Terry Matchett and Dave Grove, plus the STARPS crew and shop team that ran this exciting day!
A hardy (and dogged!) team of Bruce Coxon, Serge Sequen and me, was on board all five shuttles and sold a large number of tickets for our Christmas raffle.
Saturday 26 October was the start of our Halloween weekend. With operations disappointingly curtailed by a total fire ban, the day saw low visitor numbers. However, that provided the opportunity to fine-tune some of our activities and put us in good stead for the following day. Sunday proved a much better outcome with over 100 guests on site to enjoy the extracurricular activities! Due to the ongoing unavailability of Stevo (and hence the LFA carriage) in running mode, the suitably decorated Steam Tram was called in to service, with regular rides. The local Girl Guides were on hand both days to face paint our volunteers and visitors for a gold coin donation plus a contribution to the Guides from the museum. Many volunteers and parts of the site were dressed in the Halloween theme, and the LFA carriage was transformed into the ‘Spooky Express’, providing a series of experiences as ‘victims’ made their way through the curtained compartments that had been created. With the level of excitement escalating as progress was made through the carriage, there were plenty of surprises and squeals by the end! Sunday also saw a visit by the St George Brass Band, on their way home from a series of gigs further west. Arranged with short notice, they entertained all and sundry with toe-tapping renditions of spooky tunes, railway themes and traditional favourites. All in all, a good day out for visitors and volunteers alike plus a further boost to our October cash flow, with minimal outlay as most of the major spending was done in earlier years. Special thanks to: Eileen Ward who assisted with preparation over the preceding week, aided by Bruce Coxon on Friday; Ted Dickson, Terry Matchett, Alan Holley and the team, who shunted carriages etc. due to this year’s changed setup; Peter Banks who helped out on both event days and ‘Mr. Versatile’ Adrian Duffy, who wore a different suit this year, but with equally chilling effect!
We had been working over several months with Jenny Davies, from local support group ‘Raising Kin’ and Imelda Eames, Community Development Worker at Springwood Neighbourhood Centre, to create a special event for Grandparents, Elders and their families.
The chosen date of Sunday 3 November finally arrived and with much anticipation and a sense of the unknown, we opened our doors at 10:00 as usual. A short opening ceremony included introductions by the organisers, welcome to country by Uncle Graeme Cooper and a brief address by local state MP, Trish Doyle. Already in place were the extra activities the organisers had arranged:
Over 120 attended this fully funded event and the sausage cooking team of Jeff Russell and Adrian Duffy, aided by drinks officer Roslyn Reynolds, were kept busy throughout the day, which ended at 14:00. We have already received grateful emails from both Jenny and Imelda: extracts from these are shown below:
IMELDA EAMES re GPs Day 2019
What an awesome day yesterday was. Jenny and I saw so many families enjoying their time together and…the museum. Some for the first time. All the museum volunteers were amazing and I cannot thank you and them enough for being there early to set up and to get the tram ready and getting food ready to serve. It really was exceptional and very appreciated. We hope the Museum found the day worthwhile and enjoyable as well.
(by email 4 Nov 2019)
JENNY DAVIES re GPs Day 2019
I can honestly say that we all had a great time on Grandparents and Elders Day.
The Railway Museum venue looked "the goods" on the day and we really do appreciate all the work that you and the team put into making the day a success. There is always a little stress as the event gets closer and everyone is anxious that it comes off okay. Thankfully the weather was kind and everyone involved did such an amazing job and we couldn't have asked for more...just fabulous.
Great community partnerships all round!!
All the best to you and your team with future events.
(by email 5 Nov 2019)
Open Day on Sunday 10 November was dealt a blow by the double whammy of mainline track work plus bush fires the previous day, hence visitor numbers took a dive.
On Sunday 24 November that pattern was repeated with below par attendance but pleasingly, a slight upswing in income. A previous raffle winner had chosen the 3-hour cab experience as their prize and re-gifted it to a rail enthusiast family member, Gavin, who flew down from Coffs Harbour specially to take his prize. His family arrived later and enjoyed a full day at the museum once his prize-winning session had concluded.
On Sunday 1 December, we were all up bright and early after a week of preparation for our first Santa event of the season. The shop had a good dose of seasonal sparkle, thanks to Julie & Andrew Tester plus Ellen Anderson for her colourful gift display. The museum’s exhibits, including the tram, and the Christmas tree all received suitable adornment, thanks to Eileen & Keith Ward with help from Bruce Coxon.
Again a total fire ban prevented tram operations and impromptu alternative arrangements were made for the arrival of ‘Santa’. Children were rounded up on a ‘Search for Santa’ and once he was discovered, everyone headed to the tram parked at the platform for a ‘meet & greet’. The crowd then proceeded to the ‘grotto’ in the roundhouse where Santa and elf chatted with every child before they received a ‘free’ show bag.
Despite the adverse weather situation, many visitors attended and a good time was had by all. Our newly recruited ‘elf’ Caitlan excelled in her role, aiding and abetting Santa throughout the day. Special thanks also to Andrew Tester and Glenn Hargrave, who shared duties in the beard and big red suit. The ‘See Santa Here’ banner was deployed in advance on the railway fence as shown (adjacent to our other onsite signage).
Sunday 8 December saw another frustrating day with operations curtailed due to high fire risk. It should be safe to say that this was the last time we forgo revenue because of the lack of motive power. With Andrew Tester back in disguise in the morning and different support actors on duty, we managed to attract similar visitor numbers to the previous week. I was able to take on the Santa role after lunch so thanks again to Andrew, for donning the costume and to new ‘elves’, Zoe and Kiara, who stepped in to the breach at short notice and who both made a great impact on the kids.
Our annual find-raising raffle was drawn by ‘Santa’ at 3pm and ten lucky winners were duly notified and prizes distributed in time for Christmas with details to be posted on our website. We sincerely thank all those who bought tickets and also our generous sponsors who combined to help us raise over $1,000.
The Australian Railway Historical Society (NSW Division) held its annual Christmas party at Valley Heights on Sunday 15 December.
90 visitors mainly from NSW and some from interstate joined us for a guided tour, tram rides and lunch.
A huge effort was put in by honorary caterers, Eileen Ward and Debbie Inwood who prepared a tasty lunch for our guests in our unique 1914 setting. Provisions were purchased primarily from IGA Springwood with Coles Winmalee in support. Special thanks also to Ted Dickson, Jeff Russell and Grant Robinson who joined me as guides and the STARPS team that ran the Steam Tram. Also of note was the involvement of Steve Corrigan and Leigh Stokes, who ran demos of our electric loco driver simulator throughout the day. Well done to all!
In the afternoon, we hosted a Christmas party arranged by local GP Dr Andy Krzyszton. Nearly 40 adults and children formed an excited throng as they enjoyed all the museum’s facilities, including rides!
The museum’s 28th AGM was held on Saturday 30 November. As reported elsewhere, Henk’s era as Chairman came to an end. His time in the top job saw further emphasis on health and safety issues and increasing focus on forward planning. He will be missed in that role, but remains on Committee under incoming Chairman, Bruce Coxon, who returns to the post after a two year spell as Large Exhibits Manager. Long-serving Retail Manager, Steve Corrigan has stepped in to his shoes to build on the good work done in the past. David Wainwright’s position as Grounds Manager was also confirmed following his ‘initiation’ over the past few months. So the good ship ‘SS Valley Heights’ sails on, different hand at the helm, familiar crew on board, all deckchairs occupied.
Invited guests included: Rob Mason, Chair THNSW; Andrew Moritz, CEO THNSW; Andy McNeil, Financial Director THNSW; Ian Sheppard, Chair THNSW Illawarra Division; Kim Cowper, representing Susan Templeman, Federal member for Hawkesbury; Mark Greenhill OAM, Mayor Blue Mountains City Council; Cr Mick Fells, Ward 3 alderman BMCC; Jan Koperberg, Correspondence Secretary Blue Mountains Association of Cultural and Heritage Organisations; Craig Connelly, President Steam Railway and Preservation (Co-op) Society Ltd.
One of our invited guests, Jan Koperberg, was awarded Honorary Life Membership of the museum for her many years of support, both as an office bearer of BMACHO and individually.
Two large screens (28 inch/71 cm on the driver's side, 30 inch/76 cm on the fireman’s side) have been mounted in the number 2 end cab. The decision to use a slightly smaller screen on the drivers’ side has been vindicated as the driver is sits quite close. The fireman’s screen however will be viewed by a number of people standing further away, so the 30 inch screen is more suitable.
Leigh Stokes has kindly donated a new computer, a high end gaming machine, and has also developed three virtual scenarios where 4601 simulator drivers control a freight train between Albury and Benalla on an electrified standard-gauge track! He has also provided documentation to assist trained drivers who undertake the scenario designed to test their skills. The computer has now been installed and tested, the imaging is quite stunning!
With the new computer, along with its much more advanced software and driver training sessions, now installed and working, some time was spent gaining familiarisation with the system.
As mentioned elsewhere, a robust trial was held with ARHS members on December 15. Leigh’s earlier training in the power up/down procedures, and driving of the 46 class proved invaluable on the day.
One set of the new steps (thanks to Jenni Edmonds at THNSW) are in place to improve public access, not to mention making working in the cab much safer.
Mid-week events, 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.
The points near the shop entry are now complete and clearance and whistle signs erected.
Les Kelleher (THNSW Rail Track & Corridor Maintenance Manager) has certified these works with a small gauge defect at the V crossing opposite the shop and a 90 day inspection complete.
Temporary ash pit repairs have now reduced the immediate need to replace the timbers.
All required asbestos removal is now complete with the appropriate clearance certificate obtained as well as tipping dockets to ensure the material was disposed of correctly.
Electrical work is now in progress to allow Dave Grove to finish remodelling the old office space.
The small exhibits team has started using the new THNSW Cataloguing System for our bottle collection. In due course, the extensive old catalogue will be uploaded to the new system at THNSW cost.
Ellen Anderson from the Library team, assisted Sue Fulton with the installation of the History Week photographic display.
The interior of the RBR Caves Express carriage including the windows was cleaned. The dining compartment display has been re-located to the opposite end of the carriage in preparation for new flow through entry/exit.
Assistance was provided to STARPS with the installation of the photographic display for the 140th anniversary of Sydney trams celebration.
Many hours have been spent in planning and research for the proposed 5711 celebration in Feb 2020 is underway. Planning for the Fettlers’ Shed, The Caves Express exhibit, and the permanent information panels to go on the seven remaining black stands (tram, Stevo, DLE’s building, 5711) continues.
The shop handled a special order for VHLDHM members of the book New South Wales Railways in Colour 1855–1957.
Michael Jessop has provided some hand crafted HO scale models of Station Masters Cottage (Retail $90), Golden Fleece Service Station (Retail $70) and NSW Style Station Building (Retail $90).
We still have stock of Transport Heritage 2020 calendars, which retail for $19.00. The shop has replenished its supply of the ever popular children’s toy metal trains.
As at 14 December, our membership numbers are:
New members at the Museum this year:
A warm welcome to you all. I hope you enjoy all the activities and facilities at your Museum.
Total volunteer hours worked this year to date were as follows:
|Year to date||15788|
Renewal notices for 2020 have been sent to all members. To renew, go to our website: valleyheightsrailmuseum.info and on the menu select VHLDHM then MEMBERSHIP.
You can choose to complete the form online or to print and post.
If you need a paper copy of the form, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 4751 2471
Member Roslyn Reynolds held another exhibition of the HO model layout at her Valley Heights home on Saturday 7 September. Through these open days to one of the largest private model railways in Australia, she has raised thousands of dollars for Hospital Chaplaincy over the last few years. Well done Roslyn!
The day was also featured on the ABC website. You can read it at:
Roslyn’s next open day is on Saturday 7 March 2020. All welcome!
Many of you will remember museum volunteer John Parker who passed away in August after a short illness. John worked with the Retirees group from the mid-90s when clean-up operations were taking place. A resident of Mt Riverview, he was a long term member of the local Bushfire Brigade. Prior to retiring with his wife Gwen to Port Macquarie, John was a jack-of-all-trades at the museum and was always willing to chip in and help, forming a strong bond with his co-workers and well-liked by all. A ‘celebration of his life’ was held at Glenbrook Bowling Club on Wednesday 12 September and was attended by his family, friends and colleagues from the museum.
Congratulations to David Hunt on being awarded Transport Heritage NSW Life Membership at its AGM at Thirlmere on 30 November 2019.
Please share Museum news with friends, relatives, workmates and neighbours.
Open day. 90th anniversary of steam locomotive 5711’s service commencement, featuring activities and exhibits including descriptive photo panels, cab visits, guest speakers and birthday cake
If your memory is good enough (if not, have a guess!)…in the mid-1960s, a wide range of goods (freight) was carried by rail in NSW.
1) Rank the following six categories in terms of wagons loaded in a typical 12 month period:
a) Bulk wheat b) General goods c) Steel d) Coal e) Perishables f) Ore
2) How many wagons in total were loaded in 1965?
a) 498,543 b) 1,166,650 c) 798,602 d) 356,250 e) 1,234,567 f) 1,500,000
Depot Diary 121 Trivia Quiz answer:
No. From Alice Springs to the southernmost tip of the Gulf of Carpentaria is a little over 900 km. All other stretches of the rail line are closer to the coast than that.
Check the question at infobluemountains.net.au/ locodepot/ depot-diary
Keith Ward, Grant Robinson, Eileen Ward, Steve Corrigan, Transport Heritage NSW
We wish to thank our important sponsors:
Copyright © 2019 Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.