AUSTRALIAN RAILWAY STORY

Railway Voices CD: 2. EARLY OPENINGS

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Narration: Denis Kevans

The Railway Band will now play the Sydney Railway Waltz, composed by William Paling. Arranged by Robert Evans

It was originally performed in the Prince Alfred Theatre at a function celebrating the opening of the Sydney to Parramatta Railway on the 25th September, 1855. Four days later the five hundred construction workers who built the railway were given their own celebration in the Cleveland Paddock. They were given a feast consisting of good English fare, such as roasts, boiled beef and sucking pig.

In Victoria, a private line between Sandridge, (now known as Port Melbourne) and Melbourne, was opened on the 12th September, 1854. In South Australia, the first railway was drawn by horses. It was opened on the 18th May, 1854.

One of the first industrial disputes on the railways was in defence of the eight hour day, which had been won by the stonemasons in 1850. Railway contractors attempted to break the eight hour condition, by bringing in German stonemasons. However in a show of solidarity, the German migrants combined with the stonemasons and the eight hour day was protected. Stonemasons were very important in the early days, building bridges and viaducts, some of which are still used today. Examples are the railway clock tower and the recently re-modelled Mortuary Station. One of the most impressive examples of their work can be found on the Zig Zag Railway, near Lithgow, NSW. Completed in 1869, the Zig Zag with its complex of tunnels and viaducts, was hailed as a great engineering feat, but there was little recognition for the 10,000 workers that built it.

Railway Voices a CD of Australian railway workers stories with songs and poems