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Discovery and Early Pastoral Settlement of New England (part 1)

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The Scone Advocate (NSW : 1887 – 1954), Friday 22 September 1922

Discovery and Early Pastoral Settlement of New England.

PIONEERS OF UPPER HUNTER PLAY LEADING PART.

(From a paper written by Mr. J. F. Campbell, L.S., and read before a recent meeting of members of the Royal Australian Historical Society).

(No. 1).

The writer commences by touching upon Oxley’s trip to the New England Tableland in the year 1818 and having crossed the southern end, making his way to the coast at Port Macquarie. At this early date, Oxley had good reasons to believe that he was not the first white man to enter the tableland, for from his journal, he reports having encountered natives, who, “from the whole tenor of their behaviour, had previously heard of white people.” By way of confirmation of his surmise, it is significant that upon continuing his journey southerly from Port Macquarie along the coast, he found in Chowder Bay a small boat, half buried in the sand, and the remains of a hut which had evidently been constructed by Europeans; the saw and axe having been employed upon it. From these and other indications, it would appear that adventurous bushmen, free and otherwise, had already explored to some extent the coastal and tableland regions, especially the former, lying far beyond the recognised limits of settlement.

EARLY PASTORAL SETTLEMENT.

When it became known in Britain that rich pasture lands had been discovered beyond the range of mountains which for a quarter of a century had confined settlement to a limited portion of the coastal region, immigration, especially of pastoralists, became more pronounced. Mr. Campbell incidentally refers to the rapid progress of settlement in the Hunter Valley, and quotes from Assistant Surveyor Henry Dangar’s “Hunter River Dictionary and Emigrants’ Guide,” published in 1828, wherein it is set out that “whereas in 1822 a division of country occupying upwards of 150 miles along the river, which in 1822 possessed little more than its aboriginal inhabitants, in 1826-27 more than half a million acres were appropriated and in a forward state of improvement, and carried upwards of 25,000 head of cattle and 80,000 sheep.” In order the more readily to control this rapid advance of pastoral settlement, and to safeguard the lives and the property of settlers generally, it was decided in 1826 to limit the area within which land could be selected and securely held. The northern limit of this area was fixed as from Cape York in a line due west to Wellington Vale, beyond which land was neither sold nor let. In the meantime, however, pastoralists from the Hunter Valley, whose selections had become overstocked, or were drought-stricken, began to steal over the boundary and squat in favorable positions of the Liverpool Plains. Foremost among these was a Mr. Baldwin, who, actually in 1826, with his stock, ventured beyond the limit. His teams were the first to cross the Liverpool Range and to form the northern road over the gap at Murrurundi. No particulars are given respecting this adventurous squatter, but from official papers of that time, mention is made of an enterprising settler, Henry Baldwin, of Wilberforce and Patrick’s Plains, who may have been the pastoralist referred to. By the end of 1831, the so-called waste lands of the colony had become exploited up to the New England Tableland. The trend of this pastoral occupancy was naturally directed along the main creeks and rivers that drain the open valleys of the Namoi basin, but little information, other than traditional, seems to be available adverting to the personnel and doings of the pioneers outside the limits of settlement. In the case, Eales v. Lang, however, the evidence on record reveals something about the early occupancies on the Mukai (Mooki) River, a branch of the Namoi. Donald McLaughlan (MacIntyre?) informed the Court “that from 1825 to 1831 he was in the service of Thomas Potter Macqueen, of Segenhoe (then in England), and was several times on the Mookl looking out for runs.” In his last years of service he formed a station (Breeza) for Macqueen, which station he occupied himself in 1835. This occupancy, under license, was affirmed by the Police Magistrate, Edward Denny Day, then residing at Muswellbrook. In the same case, John Rotton deposed that in September, 1828, he formed a station at Walhalla, on the Mooki River, and remained there two years. Doona run, which was situated between Walhalla and Breeza, was first occupied on behalf of Macqueen, and formed into a station in 1833. Samuel Clift stated in evidence that he entered into possession of Doona in 1837. In 1832 the Australian Agricultural Company’s exchange grant, Warrah, situated on the northern foothills of the Liverpool Range, displaced the early occupiers of that portion of the Liverpool Plains, and the Peel River part of the grant monopolised about a quarter of a million acres on the upper reaches of that tributary of the Namoi. According to the Company’s Commissioner, Sir Edward Parry, who personally inspected the areas in 1832, the squatters who were wholly or in part displaced by the exchange grant of Warrah were as follows: — Messrs. Robertson and Burns (on Mooki), John Blaxland (Kilcoobil), William Lawson and Fitzgerald (Muritloo), Otto Baldwin, William Osborn, John Upton, George and Richard Yeoman, and Patrick Campbell (Yarramanbah), John Onus and Robert Williams (Boorambil), Thomas Parnell, Philip Thorley and William Nowlan (Warrah) and Major Druitt (Phillips Creek). The above occupiers ran 8200 head of stock, mostly cattle, between them. As to the Peel River exchange, the following were affected: — Messrs. George and Andrew Loder (Kuwerhindi, or Quirindi), Brown (Wollomal), William Dangar, Edward Gostwyck, Cory, and Warland (Wollomal and Waldoo). There were 3800 head of stock held on the properties mentioned.

The squatting invasion of New England (according to William Gardner, of Armidale, writing in 1844), commenced in 1832, when Hamilton Collins Sempill, of Beltrees (one l), Hunter River, from his out-station, Ellerstone, crossed the boundary (Liverpool Range) with his stock, and following approximately the Great Dividing Range north-easterly to the Hamilton Valley of Oxley, formed a station in the upper Apsley Valley, which he named Wolka (Walcha), with headquarters on the flat near where Oxley pitched his camp on the evening of September 8, 1818. The precise route is not recorded, but probably he reached the tableland by way of the Nundle spur, a route defined by survey the same year (1832) by H. F. White, Government Surveyor, in conjunction with H. Dangar, the Australian Agricultural Company’s surveyor. About the same time, Edward Gostwyck Cory, a settler, also from the Hunter district (Page’s River and the Patterson, and a squatter on the Page’s River, about where Tamworth is now situated), is said to have passed over the Moonboy (Moonbi) Range, along the route of the Great Northern Road from Tamworth, which route, it is also stated, was previously discovered by him, and, proceeding northerly, he camped for a time on one of the upper tributaries of Carlyle’s Gully. This tributary streamlet still bears the name of Cory’s Camp Creek, and where the camp stood may be seen in the Dog-trap paddock of Rimbanda. A memorial of his ascent to the tableland is also to be seen in the form of a rock at the foot of the second Moonboys, known to the present day as Cory’s Pillow. . . It is not definitely known on what part of the main stream Cory first formed his homestead, but it is surmised that Gostwyck was his headquarters for a time. Later on he established himself at Terrible Vale, about where the present station is situated, while the representative of William Dangar occupied the lower part of the valley with the homestead, Gostwyck, included. In the meantime Colonel Henry Dumaresq had formed a station in the vicinity which he called Saumarez, after the home of his ancestors in the Isle of Jersey. This station appears to have been fully equipped with the necessaries of pastoral life prior to the year 1836, as indicated by the evidence given in the Supreme Court, Sydney, on November 4 of that year in the case, the Crown v. Thomas Walker. In this case, the historic importance of which is obvious, Walker was indicted for the murder of a bushranger near Saumarez, in April, 1836. O’Neil, of the mounted police, “on duty at Colonel Dumaresq’s,” in giving evidence, said: “I heard that bushrangers used to be harboured at Dangar’s station, about five or six miles from Dumaresq’s. The prisoner at the bar was a shepherd there, and he told me that the bushrangers had given him the (stolen) things, and that they were to rob Mr. Cory’s and Mr. Chilcott’s stations the day after. These stations were about twelve miles from Mr. Dangar’s,” etc. Chilcott appears to have been the first occupant of Kentucky run. About this time Cory and Chilcott Had transferred their pre-occupancies. Dr. William Bell Carlyle, about the same time, occupied the valley drained by the creek which bears his name, and Captain William John Dumaresq joined his brother on the north-east. This coterie of adjoining squatters were landed proprietors from the Hunter Valley, where they usually resided. . . Sempill was soon followed by others, including the Allman brothers. The discoveries which led to the pastoral occupation of Cory’s, New England, were continued by Messrs. James and Alexander McDougall, and Alexander Campbell (one of the five overseers who accompanied Peter Mclntyre — he was T. P. Macqueen’s agent — to Australia in 1824), who in March, 1835, started, on an expedition to examine the country now named New England, and at the time unexplored. These explorers evidently followed Oxley ‘s trail to the tableland, their subsequent course being described as due north to Tilbuster, which station was then in the course of formation. From that locality they proceeded easterly, and then northerly, locating suitable positions for stations en route. Some ten years later, Campbell settled on his Macintyre occupancy, which he named Inverell.

In dealing with the pastoral settlement of the western slopes, of the tablelands, which commenced in the year 1836, the writer quotes from ‘The Reminiscences of Mrs. Susan Bundarra Young,” an author whose father, Edward John Clerk, in partnership with John Rankin, settled at Clerkness (now Bundarra). This lady’s story of the incidents and events of her childhood days, in the then Australian bush, although subject in part to correction, is, nevertheless, of historical value, insofar as it portrays the rise and progress of pastoral settlement on the tableland. Her father, who was born in England, was the son of Major Thomas Clerk, of the Indian Army. He came to N.S. Wales, via Tasmania, about the end of 1835, and with John Rankin, purchased Dr. Carlyle’s Invermein or Cresswell property, on Kingdon Ponds, and apparently his New England occupancy, Carlyle’s Gully, as well. They also formed Newstead Station, which upon the dissolution of partnership in 1842, became the occupancy of Rankin, while Clerk retained the original station, Clerkness. (Looking up records in the possession of the ‘Advocate,” we find the names of Messrs. Rankin and Clerk, both of whom were, as far back as 1838, on Satur, and not Invermein, as stated by the writer. Each subscribed a tidy donation towards, the erection of the original St. Luke’s Church, Scone. After the name of each of the two donors, the word “Satur” is plainly written).

(To be continued).

Written by macalba

October 12, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Methodist Synods

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Saturday 7 November 1936, The Sydney Morning Herald

ARMIDALE.

GLEN INNES, Friday.

At the synod of the Armidale Methodist district, held at Glen Innes, a recommendation was made that Murrurundi circuit be not required to take a, married minister next year.

A report, with suggestions from the Home Mission Department, on the question of the acute situation which will arise next year through the need of new married ministers’ circuits, was read, and the following motions were carried:-(1) Synod does not favour the scheme of its Home Mission Department because of its inequity; (2) That home mission deputations should be carried out less frequently and only by the departmental officers; (3) The policy of the Inland missions should be revised, to provide motor cycles in lieu of cars for all unmarried agents; (4) That if further economies are necessary, we recommend retrenchments in the Federal Inland Mission.

A report was received from the Young People’s Department, and the following motion was passed: “Synod commends the worth of the director, assistant director, and staff, and urges circuits to avail themselves of their help.”

It was also recommended that Revs. J. H. Sorrell and Alan Walker be re-appointed director and assistant director of the department.

Members attending synod and representatives of other Churches were entertained at a civic luncheon arranged by ladies of the congregation.

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November 16, 2010 at 8:06 pm

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New postal communication routes

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Wednesday 15 January 1851, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 15, 1851.

WE are glad to find that the government are keeping steadily in view the desirableness of extending and improving the postal communication throughout the colony. Each year there are additions, more or less, made to the post stations in the different parts of the colony, and coach mails are being gradually substituted for horse mails.

Amongst the additions and improvements made this year, we observe several in our own division of the colony. From the 1st instant a mail direct has been established from Murrurundi to Carroll; the Tamworth and Wee Waa line has been extended on to the Barwin ; a mail has been established between Walcha and the Macdonald River; and a direct mail be tween Armidale and Grafton has been established. The whole of these extensions will afford to the settlers in the several localities great additional facilities for postal communication.

Coach mails have also this year been substituted on three of our lines for horse mails, viz, between Merriwa and Cassilis, between Murrurundi and Tamworth, and between Tamworth and Armidale. This is a great improvement, particularly on the northern line, where the mails are heavy, and the distance great. When the heavy mail bags on this line were conveyed from Murrurundi on horseback the enclosures were very liable to injury from being so much rubbed together, especially the newspapers, which not unfrequently arrived at the more distant post-offices almost entirely stripped of their envelopes. The establishment of a coach line to Armidale will secure the safer conveyance of the mails thus far, and as the bags from that place onwards are not so heavy, the residents beyond are likely to receive their papers and letters in better condition than formerly. We hope that a mail coach line will at no distant date be extended right through the northern district to Moreton Bay.

We are glad to find, also, from a notice published in the Gazette of the 7th instant, and copied into the Mercury of Saturday last, that the government are at length prepared to extend the benefits of postal communication to the residents of the coast district between Stroud and Port Macquarie. Tenders are called for to convey, from the 1st of April next, a mail once a week from and to Raymond Terrace and Port Macquarie, by way of Stroud, Gloucester, and Wingham, on the Manning River. Hitherto, the residents on the Gloucester and Manning River have been practically shut out from the benefits of postal communication, and the inhabitants of Port Macquarie have received their mails from the metropolis and elsewhere by a very circuitous route. The direct line now about to be established through the coast district will obviate both these disadvantages-much to the satisfaction and benefit, we apprehend, of all the parties interested.

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October 16, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Murulla Train Disaster: Trial concluded

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Thursday 9 December 1926, The Sydney Morning Herald

The trial of Enginedriver Turner and Guard Davies on a charge of manslaughter in connection with the Murulla disaster was concluded yesterday.

After an absence of 15 minutes, the jury returned with a verdict of not guilty, and the accused were discharged.

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August 7, 2010 at 8:03 pm

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Murulla Train Disaster: Inquest Ends

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Monday 11 October 1926, The Sydney Morning Herald

Goods Train Driver and Guard Committed for Trial.

(FROM OUR SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE.)

MURRURUNDI, Saturday.

At the conclusion of the inquest into the deaths of 26 persons in the disaster to the north-west mail train near Murulla on the night of September 13 the District Coroner (Mr. G. B. White) committed for trial Driver Ernest Turner and Guard David Thomas Davies, of the goods train from which trucks broke away and crashed into the mall train.

Turner and Davies were allowed bail, one in £50 or two in £25 in each case.

The Coroner added the following rider:- “I find that there was no automatic coupling pin in the brake van of the goods train. I also find that if such automatic coupling pin had been in the brake van and had been used as officially suggested, such accident and loss of life would have been avoided. I further find that on the evidence of the Chief Mechanical Engineer for Railways and other departmental experts an omission of great importance occurs in the list of the guard’s equipment for goods trains, as no mention is made of the automatic coupling pin as part of such equipment. The grave consequence resulting therefrom is that departmentally no person is regarded as culpably responsible for the absence of such pin, and essential principles of safe working have been overlooked.”

DRIVER’S STORY.

Ernest Turner, residing at Mayfield, driver of the goods train, in reply to Mr. Rogers (Crown Law Office) said that he was hardly responsible for the statement he had given to the police, as he had just made a lengthy statement to his superior officer, and he was much upset.

Mr. Rogers read an addition to the statement made to the police, in which witness said that he had been previously unaware that the guard had not coupled up the air hoses, and that the air was not in the rear of the train.

Mr. Rogers read a long statement from witness to his departmental officer, in which he stated that the guard remarked that they would do better without the air in the rear part of the train, as the rope might stretch and part the air hose. After the breakaway he ran down after the trucks and waved his hand lamp, in an endeavour to attract the attention of the North-west mail, which he knew was in the section. The night officer ran past him after the runaway trucks.

Continuing, witness said that the first indication of a break in the train was shown by his air gauge, which rapidly dropped immediately after the tablets were exchanged, and the train was automatically stopped. After asking the guard to secure the rear portion of his train, witness said to him, “Have you got a pin?”

Mr. Rogers: Yet you made no mention of that in either of your statements.

Witness: No. The guard replied, “We are not issued with a pin.”

Witness said that he did not know it was part of the equipment of a van, nor did he expect to find one in the van.

At the instance of Mr. Rogers, witness demonstrated how he and the guard passed the hook and tall rope three times through the top link of the chain.

Witness said that he did not couple the air hose.

Mr. Rogers: Why didn’t you?

Witness: I didn’t. That is the end of it, Mr. Rogers: Did you forget it?

Witness: Yes, if I had thought of it, I would have coupled it.

Witness said that he was sure he put the tail rope three times round the link and pulled it as tight as he could.

After the luncheon adjournment the Coroner asked Mr. Rogers if, in view of the serious position witness was in, he wished to ask him any more questions.

Mr. Rogers: Only a few, your Worship.

In answer to Mr. Rogers, witness said that it was not his duty to couple up the air hoses. He left it for the guard to do.

Mr. Rogers: Suppose it did break, what harm would it do?

Witness: We could not go on. Continuing, he said that it would be his duty to see that his train had a full pressure of air before the hand brakes and sprags were taken off. If he had told the police that, he did not know the guard had not coupled up the air hose in the train. Witness would admit that his two statements were irreconcilable.

GUARD’S EVIDENCE.

David Thomas Davies, residing at Adamstown, guard of No. 62 goods train on September 13, the last witness to be called, said the break in the coupling was not his fault. He had no automatic pin, and he had to use the tail rope supplied. It was put on securely, and broke through no fault of his. No effort on his part could have prevented the accident. The police interviewed him while he was in bed, and got a statement, which he signed.

In this statement, tendered as an exhibit by Mr. Sproule, witness described the steps taken by himself and the signalman to stop the runaway trucks. He said he did not test his air brake in the van, because he know there was no air.

Mr. Sproule (for the Australian Railways Union) said that in view of the warning given to witness by the coroner, that he need not answer questions which might incriminate him, he would advise Davies not to give any further evidence.

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August 5, 2010 at 8:07 pm

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Aftermath of Murulla Train Disaster

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Wednesday 15 September 1926, The Sydney Morning Herald

SURVIVORS' STORIES.
Bodies Hurled in all directions.
RESCUES BY MATCHLIGHT.
SCENES IN THE SHATTERED CARRIAGES.

Shortly after 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon Sydney Central Station became the rendezvous of numerous relations and friends of the people on the ill-fated train. Those assembled in groups of four or five around the indicator board which announced the arrivals of the trains from the country centres, and as the word was passed along that the train from Glen Innes arriving about 4 p.m. would convey the first batch of survivors, a steady stream of people poured through the gates of No. 1 platform till almost all available standing space and seating accommodation were taxed.

One of the first of the survivors to step out of the Glen Innes train which arrived on Sydney Central Station shortly after 4 o’clock in the afternoon was Mr. Manchee, grazier, of Moree, who was greeted by some anxious friends and relations. Mr. Manchee said the scenes he had witnessed were indescribable. For almost one hour the survivors were left to their own resources to improvise ambulance equipment and relief measures before assistance came. Fires were lighted on the banks on each side of the train, the splintered carriages providing the fuel. The work of rescue was made the more difficult through the darkness, which was relieved here and there by the spurt of a match flame as some group of rescuers groped their way after the sufferers inside the shattered second-class compartment. This compartment, on which the bulk of the rescue work centred, Mr. Manchee described as a shambles. The behaviour of the people was wonderful, and there was an entire absence of panic. The conduct of the schoolgirls in particular was exemplary. They did not scream nor show excitement, but quietly did as they were told.

Mr. J. Squire, of Camperdown, was another survivor who arrived by the 4 o’clock train. Welcomed by his wife on the station, Mr. Squire emerged from the train limping badly as a result of a crushed knee, and he bore his pain with quiet resignation. He was in the carriage behind the shattered compartment, and considered himself one of the lucky ones.

Another to escape almost unhurt was Miss Jones, of Katoomba.

EXTRICATING THE VICTIMS.

A well-known Sydney business man, who was travelling with his wife and young son on the train, described the appearance of the shattered carriage as one of unforgettable gruesomeness. Heads, arms, and legs were jumbled up in all directions, bodies being piled upon each other in heaps. The whole scene was one of horror. The work of extricating the victims was extremely arduous owing to the darkness, and also on account of the closely wedged position of the victims, many of whom could not be moved, after levering or hacking away woodwork, without seriously hurting some unfortunate sufferer alongside.

A pathetic scene was witnessed as a father fought for an hour to save his ten-year-old son’s life. The boy, whose back was badly injured, lay at the foot of the ill-fated second-class compartment, and his father had literally to hack his way, piece by piece, through the wood to reach the boy, who bore his pain with splendid fortitude.

The bodies of the two men who were on the runaway wool wagons were found, both dead, one badly battered, near the railway fence among some bales of wool. The other had received terrible head injuries. Both had apparently been hurled several yards by the force of the collision.

MENACE OF FIRE.

George Smith, conductor of the following train, said that when he came on the scene he found that the carriage on one of the bogies had been completely swept away, leaving nothing but the bogie and the floor. He considered it was little short of a wonder that things were not worse, as the flames from the burning wool, which were shooting fifty feet into the air, might very easily have caught the train and the unextricated victims.

Survivors described their first impressions of the moment of the collision in excited and vivid fashion. One likened it to a “series of jumps, followed by a bang.” Another described his first impression as a rude awakening from sleep, a hurtling of portmanteaux through the air on to the floor of the sleeper, whilst he himself was tumbling from an upper bunk on top of them.

With commendable promptitude scores of the able-bodied survivors made for the scene of greatest suffering as they recovered themselves, and emerged from their carriages ; and rescue parties worked in groups of twos and threes right up to 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, some going on till daylight. The guard’s van was searched for ambulance equipment, but none could be found amidst the welter of mailbags and packages.

AIDING THE SUFFERERS.

Sheets from the sleeper and handkerchiefs were used as bandages and bindings, and the cushions from the compartment seats were made into comfortable stretchers for the sufferers as they were lined out on the grass. One local doctor, a man of nearly 70 years of age, arrived on the scene in his pyjamas, scarcely an hour after the accident. Suddenly aroused from sleep, this gentleman rushed to the scene with first aid and surgical kit, and performed amazingly hard work in assisting the wounded, and helping with the rescue of the victims. One victim, a man was found jammed between two carriages, whilst a dead man lay wedged on top of him, and the rescuers were compelled to sever the dead man’s limbs to free the man below.

SCHOOLBOYS’ EXPERIENCES.

Two school boys, David Secconde, aged 12 and Tom Scholefield, aged 14, said that they were in the first coach of the Moree mail train at the time of the accident, and were precipitated on to the floor. They made a hurried exit from their carriage into some prickly pear by the embankment. Their carriage escaped damage. The elder boy was on his way to Barker College, and the younger to the Beecroft Grammar School. They came from Rowena.

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August 4, 2010 at 8:09 pm

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Train Disaster at Murulla

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[I recently published a news article about the formation of the “Armidale Newspaper Company, Limited”. Jim Belshaw followed up with a story drawn from his history of his grandfather, David Drummond. In that piece there’s a quote relating to the Glen Innes Examiner’s competitive streak having “got a good one on Tamworth”. They’d got the scoop on the story relating to a rail smash.

I’m now following up with the story of that rail smash. GS.]

Wednesday 15 September 1926, The Sydney Morning Herald

HEAD-ON COLLISION.
AWFUL SCENES.
Heroic Rescue Work.
(From Our Special Reporters.)
MURRURUNDI, Tuesday.

The worst railway disaster in the history of New South Wales occurred shortly before midnight last night, when six runaway goods trucks crashed into the north-west mail between the village of Blandford and the Murulla siding.

The goods train had been pulled on to the Murulla siding to allow the north-west mail to pass, when the coupling joining the six rear trucks to the forepart of the train suddenly snapped. It is understood that the guard of the goods train was standing on the side of the line, directing the shunting operations, when the trucks began to move down the line. Although this official made a frantic effort to clamber on to the runaway trucks he was unable to do so, and they disappeared at a terrific speed round a curve in the line.

It was known that the mail train had passed through Blandford station, and those on the siding were sick with fear and apprehension, but powerless to avert the impending catastrophe. A few seconds later there was a deafening crash as the runaway trucks struck, with terrific force, the mail train, and telescoped several carriages. The red-hot coals from the wrecked engine fell on to and ignited several bales of wool with which the trucks were loaded. The flames most fortunately did not reach the smashed carriages, or a much more terrible disaster would have resulted.

ENTRAPPED IN WRECKAGE.

The front of the engine was smashed in, while the two rear trucks of the run-away were reduced to a mass of twisted and shapeless steel. Next to the engine was a first and second class compartment, the occupants of which, with few exceptions, escaped with minor injuries. Next to this carriage was a combined first and second class sleeper, with the roof caved in, while the under-carriage had telescoped the third coach. It was from this latter carriage, which was for second-class passengers, that nearly all the dead and injured were removed. The coach, which crumpled up like a concertina, was smashed to matchwood, and that any one passenger should have escaped uninjured was miraculous.

Following the collision the scene was one of havoc and confusion. The screams and groans of the injured, pinned beneath the wreckage, intermingled with the agonised cries of children, many of whom were returning to school in Sydney, were heartrending. The passengers who had themselves escaped injury worked with all their might to free those who had been entrapped in the wreckage. The first work of rescue was, however, seriously hampered by the lack of axes, saws, and other suitable implements with which to cut through the wreckage, which held its victims pinned mercilessly beneath.

The burning bales of wool, which formed part of the consignment of the goods train, added to the terrors of the survivors, who feared that the wreckage might catch fire.

Mr. H. H. Wright, of Bickham, Blanford station, realising that something terrible had happened, roused half a dozen of his men, and armed with axes, the party was among the first to the rescue. The news of the disaster quickly spread, and within an hour 50 or more willing helpers were assisting in the task of hacking away the splintered timbers.

A preliminary inquiry into the deaths of the persons killed was opened before Mr. G. B. White, District Coroner, at Murrurundi, this afternoon. After formal evidence had been called the further hearing was adjourned until September 29.

VICTIMS’ EXPERIENCES.

A graphic account of the events immediately following the collision was related by Mr. W. C. A. Kay, a resident of Moree, when interviewed by a “Herald” reporter at the Murrurundi Hospital this afternoon. Mr. Kay, who was sitting with his sister in a compartment in the fourth coach from the engine, said that he had, strangely enough, just been talking about the recent train disaster at Aberdeen, when a terrific jolt, which was accompanied by a noise of splintering timber and breaking glass, threw him to the opposite side of the carriage. The next instant he felt his legs become pinioned, and found himself lying with the top half of his body outside the carriage window.

“It was terrible,” he said. “In the next compartment I heard a woman screaming frantically for help, and the piteous cries of a child. Somewhere in the wreckage underneath me I heard a man calling out, ‘For God’s sake lift this off me ; my breath’s going, “Im done!’.”

“I put my hand out,” said Mr. Kay, “and felt a man’s head underneath me, but, pinned in as I was, I could do nothing for him. Above me a man was calling out for his wife, but he got no reply. After what seemed an age, but what could not have been more than half an hour, I heard the chopping of axes, and a few minutes later I was released. One woman whom I helped to drag out had been knocked down, and was lying helpless over her six months’ old baby. The infant, which was on the point of being smothered, was rescued in the nick of time, and, apart from a few bruises, was little the worse for its experience.

“I was talking to the engine driver of the train in here this morning,” continued Mr Kay. “The engine driver told me that, coming round a bend he had been horrified to see the runaway trucks bearing down on him. He jammed the brakes hard on, but was unable to pull the train up. A moment later he heard the fireman shout ‘For God’s sake, jump.” His foot caught in a strap, and the next instant there was a rending crash, and he remembered no more.

“When the enginedriver regained consciousness,” concluded Mr. Kay, “he found himself lying in the tender, partially buried by coal. He was not seriously injured, however, and the enginedriver left the Murrurundi Hospital this afternoon, in company with a friend.”

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August 3, 2010 at 8:07 pm

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