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Mountains history buffs are gearing up for a special celebration, the 150th birthday of the Blue Mountains rail line.
Heritage shuttles will be making their way up the Mountains from Lawson to Katoomba on July 23, and community members who helped save the Lawson Hall (also known as the Mechanics Institute) will be on hand there from 11am to 3.30pm to celebrate the relationship between their beloved hall and the railways.
“The Mechanics Institute was built by the Lawson community in 1903 from the bricks of the first station,” said Erst Carmichael.
“Community members carried the bricks across the road to the current site – now the public is welcome to inspect the new work that has been completed by council and the sympathetic portico designed by architect Simon Hearn and funded by the Roads and Maritime Service. There will be a photo display of early days in Lawson and some music, as well as tea/coffee and biscuits,” she said.
Lawson set to mark rail event: Colin Steele, Colleen Roche, Bluey Quilty, Kevin Hardwick, Erst Carmichael and James Roche at the Mechanics Institute.
The hall had also acted as a TAFE facility in the 1940s and 50s, training the immigrant railway workers in English and also in signalling and maintenance.
“Lawson was always a railway town,” said Kevin Hardwick.
Valley Heights Heritage Museum volunteer Andrew Tester said their group was working in co-operation with the communities of Lawson and Wentworth Falls to mark the arrival of the first train to Wentworth Falls in 1867.
“The railways brought the community of the Blue Mountains together, it wasn’t until the railways arrived the community started to settle and develop,” Mr Tester said.
Events are being organised by the NSW Rail Museum in partnership with NSW TrainLink, Sydney Trains and Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum and will run from Friday July 21 to Sunday July 23, with the museum open throughout the weekend.
On Friday a sold out commemorative steam train will arrive at Wentworth Falls at 12:17pm where a ceremony will be held in Coronation Park.
On Saturday July 22 steam train shuttle rides will operate from Penrith to Valley Heights and return plus heritage electric ‘Red Rattler’ train rides from Penrith to Blacktown and return. Ticket holders can only board or alight from the trains at Penrith.
On Sunday the Steam Train shuttles climb their way up the Mountains to Lawson. Passengers will be able to enjoy the sight and sounds as the steam train battles the steep grades between Lawson and Katoomba. Ticket holders can only board and alight from the train at Lawson.
Tickets are still available to ride on the special trains on Saturday and Sunday. Be quick to avoid disappointment as tickets are selling fast. Bookings can be made by calling the NSW Rail Museum on 1300 11 55 99 or online at: https://www.nswrailmuseum.com.au/bm150.
This article first appeared on www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au
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