Beecroft-Cheltenham History Group

The first railway line in New South Wales ran between Redfern and Parramatta and was opened with enormous excitement in 1855. With its opening, Australia entered the steam era, and that other great advance of the 19th century, the electric telegraph, soon followed.

Within 30 years, two large railway systems covered most of the settled districts of the colony, based on Sydney and Newcastle. Between them, the Hawkesbury River was an impassable barrier, until in 1881 the government of Sir Henry Parkes announced a bold policy that would double the mileage of railway lines. Included in this plan was the enormously expensive Northern Junction Line, joining the two systems over rugged country and a wide river at a cost of £2,755,000.

 

 

 

 

 Beecroft and Cheltenham each owe their existence to the coming of the railway. In the mid to late nineteenth century there was a railway heading north west from Newcastle and railways heading west and south from Sydney but nothing connecting the two. Henry Copeland was a member of Parliament representing the northern goldfields and said in 1878 that the northern railway was:

“the most important piece of railway that could possibly be taken in hand by the government.’

A proposal to build a northern line was introduced in 1881. It was costed in excess of 2.75 million pounds.

Construction of the railway commenced in 1883. While most of the material did not come from this locality some of the ballast did come from a quarry between Cobran and Day Roads in Cheltenham and a siding was built to carry the ballast to the new line. The new line was opened on 17 September 1886. Due to the strain on the single line the tracks were duplicated in 1892. At this time a goods siding was added at Beecroft between the new platform and the Copeland Road Bridge.

 

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