Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum

The Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum (aka Valley Heights Rail Museum) is a railway museum located in Valley Heights, New South Wales, Australia. It is operated by the Blue Mountains Division of Transport Heritage New South Wales.

Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum
Established1994
LocationTusculum Road
Valley Heights, New South Wales, Australia
Coordinates33.7028°S 150.5778°E / -33.7028; 150.5778
TypeRailway museum
Nearest car parkOn site
WebsiteOfficial Site

The Valley Heights Steam Tramway is also located in the former locomotive depot. The facility is located 300 metres north-west of Valley Heights railway station.

Locomotive depot

The heritage-listed locomotive depot was constructed in 1913 when the duplication of the Main Western railway line between Emu Plains and Glenbrook was completed. The depot was available for service from December 1913, but was not officially opened till 31 January 1914. With the duplication and regrading of the line, the heavy grades below Valley Heights were eliminated, the ruling gradient from Penrith to Valley Heights being 1 in 60.[1]

The depot at Valley Heights consisted of a locomotive yard, a 10 bay roundhouse, 18.3-metre (60 ft) turntable, an elevated coal stage, and water tanks and columns. It provided bank engines for trains travelling to Katoomba and beyond. The engines at Valley Heights not only banked over the longest distance in NSW, but also had the envious distinction of having to operate over the longest continual and most steeply graded mainline in Australia. The 33 kilometre section from Valley Heights to Katoomba rises 670 metres, with a ruling gradient of 1 in 33.

During the steam era, the depot had a continual allotment of eight freight and two passenger engines. During the peak of the steam era, an average of 30 trains during any 24-hour period required banking from Valley Heights to Katoomba.

The line was electrified to Valley Heights in October 1956. In February 1957, steam operations from Valley Heights were replaced by the 46 class electric locomotives.

The depot in latter years was an electric locomotive and freight wagon repair workshop, the electric engines receiving everything from minor repairs to complete overhauls at the depot. A variety of freight wagons were also repaired. The demise of Valley Heights depot began when the more powerful 85 class locomotives were introduced in 1979. The demise was accelerated with the introduction of the 86 class locomotives in early 1983. From the mid-1980s, the number of trains requiring banking from Valley Heights had been reduced to a handful each day, the number of locomotives required for this duty being reduced to three, sometimes as few as two being necessary.

In October 1988, it was announced the depot would close.[2] One electric locomotive remained available for any bank work necessary, until the last week of January 1989, when 4627 had the distinction operating the last train to be banked from Valley Heights to Katoomba.

Milestones included:

  • 1911- railway station destroyed by bushfire
  • 1912 - repairs to railway station buildings destroyed by bushfire
  • 1914 - new roundhouse and depot brought into use
  • 1924 - additional water supplies at depot
  • 1925 - improvements to facilities, including ash tunnel for locomotive ash handling
  • 1949 - upgrading facilities for crew amenities
  • 1953 - the only fatality in the depot's history when Henrikus Trip killed walking on the main line[3]
  • 1957 - electric locomotives take over from steam locomotives as bank engines
  • 1960s - improvements to allow for servicing and repairs to electric locomotives, members room/meal room, visitor centre and refreshment rooms added
  • 1973 - machine workshop annex added
  • 1987 - the first floor level of brickwork at signal box was removed in 1987 and extension added
  • 1988 - reduced use of bank engines as larger electric locomotives are used on main line work
  • 1992 - footbridge, upgrading work, concrete deck and stairs
  • 1993 - depot closed
  • 1990s - extensive repairs to roundhouse
  • 2014 - centenary of depot and official opening of museum by Governor Marie Bashir
  • 2017 - sesqui centenary of opening western line to Weatherboard (now Wentworth Falls)
  • 2018 - major renovation of roundhouse forecourt

Museum

In 1994, the Blue Mountains Division of the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum (now Transport Heritage NSW) established the Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Railway Museum, with the aim of preserving the depot to provide historical, educational and recreational facilities and opportunities for the benefit of the Blue Mountains community and visitor to the region.

Following the destruction of the Parramatta Park Tramway by fire in June 1993, the Valley Heights Steam Tramway was established in 1997 by the Stream Tram and Railway Preservation (Co-Op) Society Limited and its remaining assets were also transferred to Valley Heights.

In 2007/08, the Museum built a new work shed constructed near ash disposal tunnel, former amenities building (refreshment room and visitor centre) repaired and refurbished, ongoing work in roundhouse, chargeman's office (museum) repaired and refurbished, ash disposal tunnel cleaned and restored, amenities (toilets) were repaired and refurbished.

The museum is now operated jointly by two organisations: Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum[4] and the Steam Tram and Railway Preservation Society operating as Valley Heights Steam Tramway[5]

Heritage status

Together with the Valley Heights railway station, the locomotive depot was listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999. The depot is considered "of state significance as an important locomotive depot, and the principal service and maintenance facility for bank engines working over the Main Western line between Sydney and Lithgow for almost 80 years".[1]

Centenary

On 31 January 2014, the Museum celebrated the centenary of the opening of the depot, with a special ceremony featuring speeches from the NSW Governor Marie Bashir and NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell. The event received extensive coverage on local and state media.[6]

Museum exhibits

The Museum's collection of railway locomotives, carriages, wagons and other railway equipment includes:

Locomotives
NoDescriptionManufacturerYearStatusRefNSW Heritage OfficeCustodian
103A0-4-0T Steam saddle tank tram engineBaldwin Locomotive Works1891operating exhibitExhibit information, Steam tram motor 103AValley Heights Steam Tram Rolling StockValley Heights Steam Tramway
CPC20-6-0T Steam locoRobert Stephenson and Company1899operating exhibitExhibit information, Stephenson Locomotive No CPC 2Valley Heights Steam Tramway
10220-4-0T Steam saddle tankVulcan Iron Works1896in parts under restorationExhibit information, Locomotive 1022Valley Heights Steam Tramway
13084-4-2T Steam passenger locoBeyer, Peacock and Company1877parts onlyExhibit information, Locomotive 1308Locomotive, Steam 1307Valley Heights Steam Tramway
32144-6-0 Steam passenger locoBeyer, Peacock and Company1891static exhibitExhibit information, Locomotive 3214Valley Heights Loco Depot Heritage Museum
54612-8-0 Steam goods locoClyde Engineering1915static exhibitExhibit information, Locomotive 5461Locomotive, Steam 5461Valley Heights Loco Depot Heritage Museum
57114-8-2 Steam goods locoClyde Engineering1929static exhibitExhibit information, Locomotive 5711Locomotive, Steam 5711Valley Heights Loco Depot Heritage Museum
4601Co-Co Electric locoMetropolitan Vickers1956static exhibitExhibit information, Locomotive 4601Valley Heights Loco Depot Heritage Museum
X2060-4-0 Diesel mechanical shunting locoChullora Railway Workshops1963operating exhibitExhibit information, Locomotive X206Valley Heights Loco Depot Heritage Museum

The Museum publishes historical and technical details of exhibits on its website.

References

  1. "Valley Heights Railway Station and Locomotive Depot". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01276. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  2. "Valley Heights to Close" Railway Digest December 1988 page 439
  3. "Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum remembers Dutch fuelman who died on the tracks". Blue Mountains Gazette. 9 August 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  4. "About Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  5. "About Valley Heights Steam Tramway". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  6. "Centenary Day" (PDF). Depot Diary. Valley Heights Rail Museum. January 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
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