Tuesday 10 March 2020

A New Attraction - Bathurst Rail Museum

Now that Mick isn't working, we have had a chance to get out and about on a Friday.

In February a new Railway Museum opened in Bathurst.

The railway came to Bathurst in 1876 and we had quite a large railway precinct for many years.

The museum has been created in what was the Railway Institute building, which had been sitting empty and very sad for some time.   It is just next to the railway station.

The Railway Institutes were originally established as a training centre for railway workers.  This is before they attended TAFE.

You had to be quite good to get a start with the railway for a trade.  Many started as cleaners of the trains, and through the training at the Institutes worked their way up to be drivers etc.

There were also mobile training centres, set up in train carriages, that travelled around the state.

The area around the railway was known as Milltown, as there were also several flour mills.  Our first home, which we bought in the mid 1980s, was a little worker's cottage just a couple of blocks up from the museum.  When we moved in you would hear the trains being shunted during the night, but gradually, during the 11 years we were there, the railway deminished and by the time we moved you very rarely heard them.  There were a couple of older ladies that lived over the road and they talked of having to wipe down their clothes lines before hanging out the washing to remove the soot from the steam trains.

The Railway Institute was in the tin building.  There used to be tennis courts to the right of the Institute, but they hadn't been used for some time as well.  The new building houses a large model train layout, showing the rail from Tarana (half way to Lithgow) to Bathurst.  

To the left of the Institute there is now a very early railway carriage, which is part of the Refreshment Rooms.

You enter the museum into what was originally the hall.

Dances, wedding receptions, meeting and all sorts of events took place here for the railway workers and their families.

There was some interesting memorabilia to have a look at.

This room was originally the library.  There was also a billiards room at the front of the building.  

One of Bathurst's most famous sons was the Prime Minister Ben Chifley.  Ben worked on the railway at Bathurst and during some strikes he started to represent the workers.  He was quite a good negotiator and eventually entered politics and the rest, as they say, is history.  However, Ben never forgot where he came from.  During his time as PM he never lived at the Lodge, rather he stayed at a hotel while in Canberra, returning to his two bedroom railway worker's cottage in Bathurst at other times.  That cottage is also a museum open to the public, still furnished with their belongings.

One of the engines Ben Chifley drove is parked by the railway station.

There were boards with details of various classes of trains associated with Bathurst.

I was particularly interested in the 81 Class.  Mick was involved in building this actual train, just after he finished his apprenticeship as a fitter and machinist.  He worked at Clyde for about eighteen months and they were building the first four of these locos at the time.  You still see the 81 Class locos on the rails, although they are now painted blue and yellow.

One of the big draw cards is the model train layout.  It was commissioned by a local family, and when they moved from their home on a property they gifted it to Bathurst Council, who created this museum to house it.  The track is a representation of the rail line from Tarana to Bathurst in the early 1960s.

The railway station, with the Railway  Institute beside it.

All the little stations are depicted, many of which have since been demolished.  The station in the above photo is Raglan.  It still exists, but in very poor condition.  There is a group of people currently trying to save it.  Maybe publicity through this new musuem will assist their cause.

An interesting story of the local railway is shown at regular intervals and there are also interesting interviews with some old railway workers in one room.  We found that fascinating, as we know quite a few of them.

After seeing the model train for big kids, it was time to check out the trains for little kids.

Apparently, this is one of the biggest Brio train sets around.

In the corner of the station there is a little cubby house refreshments room, complete with Brio plates and food.  So cute.

I reckon if you had littlies, you would definitely get an annual pass just to come and play.

We spent longer looking around than we thought we would, so finished off by having lunch sitting in the sun.

Council should be commended for creating such an interesting and relevant museum.  There seems to be quite a bit of life being injected into what was once a rather rundown area.  Great to see.

While we were in the wandering around mode, we also popped into the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, just up the road from the railway.

The main exhibition was of Marion Hall Best Interiors.

It reminded me so much of those 1970s decorator magazines.  

However, her work dated back to the 1940s. It was really interesting to see.

The other exhibition was stenciled pictures by Paul Davies.

Rather striking.

It's so nice to have the time to visit places like these without time restraints.  We are looking forward to doing more of it.


Jenny said...

What a great museum, I especially like the idea of a cafe in a carriage! It would be a great thrill for Mick to see an engine he had worked on years ago, I imagine. Excuse me for being nosy, but has he retired now?

kiwikid said...

Great to see the museum and the brightening up of an otherwise neglected area. Looks like it was a great day out.

loulee said...

Looks interesting. I'll add it to the list for next time.

Michelle Ridgway said...

Well that's now on our bucket list! It looks very interesting...love the cafe in the carriage x