Rydal Village Association are excited to be celebrating 150 years since the first train pulled into the Rydal Railway Station.
History of Rydal Train Station:
Even before the first train ran in NSW, it had always been the aim of the then Sydney Railway Company to build railways to the inland towns of Goulburn and Bathurst.
By 1867 the western line had reached Wentworth Falls, and work on contracts three to Mt Victoria, four to Bowenfels and five to Wallerawang was progressing.
On June 20 1867, number six contract was awarded to James MacKenzie from Victoria. This comprised just over six miles (10 km) of railway formation from Wallerawang to just beyond Mitchell's original road at Rydal.
It included the station building and goods shed but not the rails and fixtures. As it turned out, Mr Mackenzie did not have the resources to complete the work and in March 1868 he left the colony leaving around 250 workers unpaid.
The government continued the work until re-letting the contract to Mr W. McCauley in April.
On August 14 1868 contract number seven, Rydal to Locke's Platform (Locksley) was let to Dan Williams. This work ran very late, resulting in Rydal becoming the terminus of the main western line for around 21 months.
Although the line was not yet open, the first train actually ran on the June 1 1870.
The Governor, the Earl of Belmore accompanied by Captain Corry made a private trip to Orange. He travelled to Rydal in his private carriage, returning a week later. The train was hauled over the incomplete railway by the contractor's engine.
On July 1 1870, without any official ceremony, the first train left Sydney at 8.45am and arrived at Rydal at 3.25pm, a journey time of 6 hours 40 minutes.
The new railway climbed away from Wallerawang on a grade of 1 in 90, steepening to 1 in 66 and then 1 in 50 at a point later known as Diwana.
It is here that the western rail line crosses the Great Divide. From here, the line fell at 1 in 90 to Rydal.
Approaching Rydal the line crossed the new Bathurst Road that had replaced Mitchell's original road over Mt. Lambie in 1859.
After running through the station it crossed the old road before reaching the temporary terminus.
At the station, a loop was provided, as well as a three track shunting yard laid out on the level.
Other facilities included a horse dock, a large two bay goods shed (relocated to Raglan in 1873), a two-ton crane, a water tank for locomotive use, and a locomotive turntable (relocated to Bathurst in 1879). It took much agitation by locals to get a new, smaller, goods shed to replace the original.
The line was extended to Locksley on April 22 1872, but Rydal remained the main transhipment point.
On July 1 1872, the line opened to Macquarie Plains (Brewongle) and that became the main transhipment for goods and passengers travelling further west.
Even so, Rydal remained a very busy place with goods traffic to and from Jenolan Caves, Sunny Corner and the Capertee area, as well as local produce.
Throughout the 1870's and early 1880's engines were regularly stationed at Rydal to handle the working, especially during the wool season.
It was not until the railway opened to Capertee in 1884 that Rydal became a quiet country railway station.
Over the years many improvements were made to the facilities at Rydal.
In 1878 proper safe working was introduced over the single lines and Rydal received its first Signal.
This was a single tall post with two semaphore arms, one for each direction. It was located on the platform roughly where the war memorial is today. In 1890 it was replaced by standard NSWGR signals.
In October 1891 a platform including waiting room and 'out-of' shed was provided on the loop for Sydney bound passengers. Later, a small 'Pea Shed' was provided at the Bathurst end of this platform to enable perishable produce to be loaded into the Guard's van of Sydney passenger trains.
Duplication was opened in stages from 1910 onwards, and deviations at Diwanna and to Sodwalls reduced the gradients.
In 1915 the Signal Box was provided, this represents the peak of development at Rydal.
By the 1970's the railways had lost much traffic to road transport, and faced with increasing deficits, Governments looked to rationalise railway operation.
From 1976, Rydal signal box was increasingly 'switched out'.
The early hours of October 20 1989 saw the last use of the signal box for train working, although the station was already unstaffed by this point.
In 1993 all remaining points and signals were removed including the remains of the goods yard.
Finally, on June 24 1996 the line was single tracked.
Nevertheless, Rydal never completely lost its train service, and after 150 years of service now enjoys five trains daily each way, three of them direct to or from Sydney.