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A heavily upgraded railway at Westwood was operational 150 years ago and was designed to help shift resources in a short space of time.
In the 1863 Railway Bill, it was decided to build a railway from Ipswich to the Darling Downs.
In January 1864 a railway survey to the copper fields near Peak Downs was initiated by the Engineer for Roads, Northern Division, Henry Plews.
It was the construction of a road from the new port of Broadsound farther north and the prospect of losing the Peak Downs trade which helped galvanise Rockhampton in its efforts to obtain a railway.
Plans were approved on September 2, 1864.
Plews was appointed Chief Engineer of the Northern Railway in October 1864 and was to be called The Great Northern Railway.
In December 1878, it was renamed the “Central Railway” and the railway west from Townsville eventually assumed the old title of “The Great Northern Railway”.
Plews was asked by Governor Bowen to supply a description of where the railway would or could eventually lead. Plews responded that the Great Northern Railway will run nearly due west through townships of Stanwell, Westwood, Gogango and Gainsford to the Leichhardt district, eventually to reach Springsure or Clermont (or both).
The Great Northern Railway opened after its original contract date of January 1, 1867, in part because of the lack of fishplates (iron bars) that joined the sections of rail together.
Reluctantly, Plews allowed trains to run on the section – although rails has not been properly fastened – with a very low speed.
In October 1867 there was a special excursion organised to Westwood. The train left 9.30am from Rockhampton and arrived at Westwood about 11.30.
The first commercial loadings had been taken even before official opening of the line.
On 23 August, 1867, a load of 24 wool bales from Rannes was transported to Rockhampton by train.
Westwood was important when the railway was finished. There were several hotels, a store, a butcher’s shop and more.
*Information from Westwood State Sschool, Queensland Railway and QldRailHeritage.com
Celebrate history on September 17A day of celebrations will be held to commemorate 150 years of the upgraded railway through Westwood. The event will be held at Westwood Hall on Sunday, September 17, from 8am-4pm.
Among the activities will be market stalls, fun things for the kids, display boards about the railway, memorabilia, souvenirs, food, a multi-draw raffle, a ceremony and a plaque unveiling.
Photos and stories about the railway to potentially share are welcome.
Phone 0418 755 385, 0427 520 066, and 0428 502 302.
This article first appeared on www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au
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