Centenary of rail at Kempsey, 1917-2017

Kempsey railway buildings under construction, 1917.
Kempsey railway buildings under construction, 1917.

ON JUNE 4, 1915, the Argus reported that excavations for the station had begun under Ganger Tonks and the first timber foundations were being driven by Mr Kennedy.

The Argus correspondent had had the opportunity to inspect the plans for the Kempsey Railway Station. The passenger platform was shown as being 300 feet long on the western (Kemp St) side of the proposed line while on the eastern side would be the Goods Shed and an office.

The contract for the buildings was let on October 3, 1916, and on August 1, 1917,  the Chronicle reported on a visit to the station where Mr JA Campbell, in charge of the construction, gave the reporter a tour of inspection of the structures which were easily the finest this side of Newcastle.

The station master’s cottage fronted on to Kemp St while the main entrance to the platform was flanked by the signal station, ticket office, ladies’ waiting room, general waiting room and cream room.

The refreshment rooms were in a two-storey building at the northern end of the station and the main counter ran the full length of the 54 feet floor space.

The goods platform containing a one ton scale was partly covered by a shed while a weighbridge was placed near the Belgrave St entrance. A gatekeeper was to be stationed at the level crossing.

Large cattle and pig yards were being constructed at the north-easterly end of the goods yard.

A 25,000 gallon tank set high up was connected to two hydrants to provide town water for all purposes with up to 50,000 gallons required per week.

A coal stage for loading coal into the engines had been completed.

A 15 ton turntable enabled engines to turn around or to be shunted onto one of six lines leading into the engine house for cleaning or repairs.

The engine house was capable of taking 12 engines and at the time was the only one between Newcastle and Grafton.

A fortnight later the paper reported that good progress on the earthworks was being carried out by bullocks and tip-drays.

Mr Campbell completed the trouble-free construction of the buildings without a single accident to his 50 local workers.

- Macleay River Historical Society

Watch for more railway snippets leading up to the Kempsey Centenary of Rail on November 27, 2017. Copies of the photographs are available from the Macleay River Historical Society, phone, 6562-7572.