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News: Celebrating 5711's 90th birthday at Valley Heights Rail Museum

On Sunday 9th February we celebrated the 90th Birthday of the Museum's largest exhibit — Steam Locomotive 5711.

A number of Special Guests were invited to the event and although Mother Nature is always welcome to all our events, she certainly stretched the friendship on the weekend. Sadly the rain did impact visitor numbers. Weather aside we were not going to let a little bit of rain spoil the party.

Four months of planning culminated in the locomotive being moved to a location for immediate public impact. As soon as the public enter the Museum they are greeted by the size of the locomotive. Special arrangements were implemented so as to allow the public to get up close and personal with the locomotive, get their picture taken beside it and climb aboard the cab to see a photographic recreation of cab with the Driver and Fireman's controls visible.

A series of interpretive panels were prepared with the intention of displaying them beside the locomotive, however the persistent rainfall on the day confined them to a marquee close by the locomotive.

Two 5 inch gauge models of 5701 and 5035 were kindly displayed in steam by their owners Robert Smithers and Graeme Kirkby respectively.

One dilemma facing our event organisers was where were we going to conduct the Official Ceremony. Enter our neighbours the Springwood Boys & Girls Club who have their Gymnasium adjacent to the Museum. We have an excellent relationship with the Boys & Girls Club. Chairman Bruce Coxon made contact with the club and was able to secure access to a room within the Gymnasium as their facilities were not being used. We also had access to their kitchen allowing us to provide the catering for our guests. This facility made for a more comfortable setting for our guests, with the welcome sound of the rain on the roof being the only challenge to contend with.

The Ceremony was attended by 50 people with a strong representation from Transport Heritage NSW. The ceremony commenced with a Welcome to Country delivered by Uncle Graeme Cooper, followed by speeches from Susan Templeman MP (Member for Macquarie), Councillor Chris Van der Kley (Deputy Mayor, Blue Mountains City Council), Mr Rob Mason (Chairman, Transport Heritage NSW), Mr James Dalton (Chairman, Australian Railway Historical Society - NSW), David Oram and Ted Dickson. James Dalton spoke about the Significance of the Locomotive. David Oram spoke about Saving the Locomotive for preservation while Ted Dickson spoke on the locomotive's restoration and reconstruction. Following the speeches a Birthday Cake was cut followed by three cheers. A light lunch for the Special Guests was provided following the ceremony.

We were encouraged that despite the weather many of the special guests stayed to inspect the locomotive and the displays associated with the Birthday celebrations.

Mr Ian Vigers, Blue Mountains Coffee Roasters created a special 5711 Blend for the occasion. For all those coffee lovers a sample bag can be purchased from the Museum.

Transport Heritage NSW also provided assistance with the creation of a commemorative handout. The handout features a picture of the 57 from a Christmas Card that was given to all Railway and Tramway Employees by the Commissioner of Railways in 1929.

If you could not make the event last Sunday, we are pleased to invite you along to continue the Birthday Celebrations on our next public Open Day - Sunday 23 February.