Rail museum takes control 

A TRAIN control board and model trains will be among the newest additions to Werris Creek’s Australian Rail Monument and Rail Journeys Museum this year.

A grand opening of the new exhibits in an upstairs section is planned for some time in March, once a risk assessment is done.

Rail Journeys Museum president Chris Holley said a $97,000 donation from mining company Shenhua Watermark would allow the museum to bring material that it otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to Werris Creek.

The museum took possession of the restored Newcastle-Sydney control board on December 17.

It was a bit of a coup to get the old Newcastle-Sydney control board, Mr Holley, himself a former train controller, said.

“An old mate of mine, a chief controller in Sydney, told me the apprentices were doing it up and he said it was going to be a wonderful attraction, so I made overtures to RailCorp, the heritage section, and they gifted it to us on permanent loan,“ Mr Holley said.

The restoration took about 18 months. “It’s a great attraction. It’s just like a table, but on an angle so the controllers could see it ... it’s highlighted by a huge 1933 map of the railways of NSW which shows the train-control areas in the state at that time and there are stations on that map that people today wouldn’t know had existed.”

Two 80-inch television screens are coming from the Railway Resource Centre exhibit. 

“They will present photos and memorabilia from the 1890s,” he said.

“The second screen will have views of the Pacific National satellite-navigation system highlighting the coal mining in this area and the Hunter Valley.”

The museum will soonconstruct a model railway in the upstairs room with model trains from the late Oscar Huggett of Gunnedah, who died about a year ago.

“His family have donated the trains that he made from scrap metal – we’ve got five 

of his engines and various wagons,” Mr Holley said. 

“We hope to theme the model railway around the old Werris Creek railway and it will be in a gallery entitled the Gordon Russ Memorial Gallery. 

“Also, we have 350 rail videos of the world which will be transferred onto DVDs so people can see them, too.” 

The new exhibit will also include a series of photos and railway poems from the Trains of Treasure Exhibition which toured Australia in the Bicentenary in 1988.

“It’s going to be a very special area,” Mr Holley said.Later this year, volunteer staff at the museum will also be given the old CountryLink shirts, now that the regional network has been rebranded as NSW TrainLink.

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