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A treasured piece of rail history has been destroyed in a rural NSW town despite assurances from the national rail body it would be removed with the intent to preserve it.
Footage and pictures circulating on social media appear to show little care was taken by an Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) contractor as it took down the water tank tower recently.
The ARTC said it had to take down the ailing infrastructure due to a growing risk of it falling on the active line.
The tank, which was used to power the old steam locomotive trains, was one of few relics that remained on the once a bustling railway station at Glenreagh, north west of Coffs Harbour.
Glenreagh Railway and Station Preservation Society (GRASPS) executive member Megan Casey said the vision of the now crumbled wreck has left the village devastated.
"The water tower is 103 years old and it's a piece of Australian history that's just been trashed," Ms Casey said.
During talks with the local rail group, the ARTC said it did investigate other options to dismantle the structure to try and preserve it.
An ARTC spokesman said the structural uncertainty of the tower meant the use of crane to lift the tank was ruled out because it could not have been safely lifted and placed to the ground.
"It is regrettable the tower's condition was such that salvaging it was ultimately not possible," an ARTC spokesman said.
Australian Rail Historical Society NSW chair James Dalton said he appreciated that all rail relics can not be preserved, but said situations like what happened in Glenreagh were disappointing.
"It's always sad to see old infrastructure being removed that way, particularly when it's quite unceremonious as it was on this occasion," Mr Dalton said.
Although the old railway water tanks are not rare, he said the removal at Glenreagh further highlighted the need for a national review of what historic infrastructure remains and how it could be preserved.
Mr Dalton said there was an increasing interest around the country to protect rail infrastructure for future generations.
"I think we have turned a corner from perhaps 20 or 30 years ago where anything old was seen as ugly and was removed," he said.
He pointed to the incorporation of old rail infrastructure at Temora, north of Wagga Wagga in NSW, into a tourist precinct which showed the potential for local groups and governments to transform old assets into an attraction.
In Glenreagh, Ms Casey said the group would now focus on its continued negotiations with the ARTC to take over the lease of the old station for future preservation.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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