The Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum has two distinct yet fundamentally interrelated objectives. They are:
The establishment of a World-class Railway Museum at Dorrigo. This museum will showcase the history, both social and technological, of the railways of New South Wales.
The operation of a tourist railway. Services will be established on portions of the former New South Wales Government Railway Glenreagh to Dorrigo branch railway line.
The museum display will provide a world class static display of the history of railways in New South Wales. The museum will chronicle the history in meticulous detail and provide an invaluable educational facility to demonstrate the many applications of science and technology throughout the history of NSW railways to the modern day.
The museum is the largest collection of historic railway equipment in the Southern hemisphere, and continues to secure a wide cross section of exhibits. All railway vehicles in the collection are standard gauge.
To date, the museum collection comprises 67 locomotives, 280 carriages and wagons and over 19 railmotors. The locomotives range from tiny, 8 ton, shunting units to the massive, 260 ton Beyer-Garratt (the largest locomotive in the southern hemisphere), many over 100 years old. The passenger carriage collection includes such specialised vehicles as a prison van, rail pay buses, travelling post offices, bulk mail vans, sleeping cars, the former Premier's car and a sleeping car allocated to General Douglas MacArthur, as well as everyday vehicles from times past. The freight rolling stock includes vehicles for the carriage of almost every commodity, including grain, livestock, coal, oil, cement, biscuits, fruit, water, limestone, superphosphate, meat, milk, bitumen, explosives, machinery, coil steel, automobiles, etc.
Of course, history is not a static thing. What is the latest technology today is tomorrows historical item. The museum's role is preserving for posterity that which is now just commonplace, a task that will never finish. For example, the modern XPT train is a potential future exhibit because of it's significance from both an historical and technical viewpoint.
Successful preservation and restoration requires the availability of spare parts - the parts from two or more identical items can be pooled to provide one fully restored piece, as well as further spares.
With this in mind, the museum has pursued a policy of selectively acquiring some duplicate items. Approximately 12% of the museum's present stock falls into this category, and will ultimately be dismantled to this end.
Railway history is much more than just locomotives and rolling stock. The history of railways is as much a social history of NSW as it is the history of technological advancement. For this reason, the museum will capture, in a way as authentic as possible, the spirit of an everyday life that was shared with railways in days past. To this end, the museum continuously gathers together many thousands of smaller items that go into making up a railway and life associated with it. Examples of railway paraphernalia include uniforms, kerosene lamps, tickets, signals, trolleys, crockery, clocks, posters, signs, badges and many, many others. Other historic items such as steam rollers, vintage cars, wooden kegs, farm machinery and other once commonplace goods from bygone eras have also been collected, and will all contribute enormously to the establishment of the historical context of the displays. For example, imagine the awesome display of our superb Centurion main battle tank being transported to or from the docks for service at war! The museum has also secured examples of each of the first six models of Holden cars, dating from 1948, that will be displayed on a double deck car-carrying wagon. Another example, amongst many, is the 30 large wooden kegs of the type that were used to distribute beer and spirits to hotels in days gone by. They, too, will be displayed in an appropriate railway wagon. This is just a glimpse at how the planned authentic displays will be a spectacular sight to the visitor and historian alike.
The museum will showcase an enormous range of the applications of science and the chronology of technological advances, including:
|The development of steam locomotives from 1877 to 1956 and the overlapping changeover to diesel and electric locomotives from 1952 to the present day.
|The progressive improvements in passenger and freight rolling stock, addressing such innovations as air conditioning for passengers versus the old footwarmers or open windows, the use of refrigeration for meat transport rather than iced meat vans, the change from brass wheel bearings to roller bearings and the replacement of spoked wheels with solid disc wheels.
|The signalling and safeworking systems that constantly evolve to provide a safe railway environment.
The museum firmly believes in housing all of the equipment under cover. Ultimately, a world class display building will be erected in stages to house the static museum display. This building will be to a similar standard as the National Railway Museum in York, England. To ensure the long term security of the museum project, the museum has purchased a 53 acre property adjacent to Dorrigo railway station yard at a cost of over $300,000.00. This land is currently being developed as the site of the static museum display, workshops, spare parts stores, and other public facilities such as car parks.
The excitement of steam locomotives can really only be appreciated when they are seen, heard and smelt in action. The sound of a steam locomotive's whistle and the sight of a plume of smoke in the distance are fond memories for many, and yet they are experiences that many younger folk have yet to enjoy.
It is the museum's firm belief that a museum should be more than just a collection of static equipment. The DSR&M's second major objective is to operate a public steam locomotive hauled tourist train service from Dorrigo Station, adjacent to the museum. There are many features of the line from Dorrigo to Ulong which make it hard to beat as a line on which to operate public steam tourist train services. For example:
|The museum's activities are completely divorced from commercial railway operators.
|The line is complementary to the museum principle, as it's method of construction, signalling, etc. is of a bygone era.
|All sidings, stations, signal boxes, bridges and other structures remain basically intact.
|Steam locomotive facilities such as turntables, watering facilities and de-ashing pits are generally intact.
|Dorrigo is a popular tourist region accessible from both the New England area as well as from Coffs Harbour and the North Coast generally.
|The line runs through some of the most scenic countryside in the state, including a great deal of State Forest. Bridges and waterfalls abound.
Public services will originate and terminate at Dorrigo, operating to a variety of destinations on the line. A choice of services will enable members of the public to travel on the journey that best suits their budget and the time they have available.
The capacity to provide for the ongoing operation of the planned services has been of paramount concern to DSR&M. The museum has secured an adequate number of suitable steam locomotives and carriages, in good order, to maintain these services over a very long period. DSR&M also has substantial and comprehensive stocks of spare parts, specialised tools and workshop machinery, unobtainable anywhere else, which are essential to ensuring the continued operation of trains. Over 1000 tons of coal, sand, oil and other consumable items are already in stock, ready for the start of public services.
As for the line itself, DSR&M has, through years of effort, acquired a comprehensive range of equipment and other requisite materials to ensure the permanent maintenance of the Dorrigo branch line. This equipment and associated materials has a replacement value in excess of one million dollars, and includes:
|Stocks of sleepers and rails.
|5 bogie ballast wagons to discharge rock ballast onto the track during maintenance of the line.
|A ballast plough wagon to distribute the ballast evenly over the track.
|A ballast regulating machine to plough and sweep the ballast to the correct profiles.
|A ballast tamping machine to pack ballast beneath the sleepers and vertically align the track.
|A rail mounted brush cutter to control lineside vegetation.
|A rail mounted mobile crane for bridge maintenance.
|Various air and hydraulic machines for drilling sleepers, cutting rails, driving dog spikes, and so on.
With this equipment and associated infrastructure, DSR&M has the capacity to carry out track restoration and maintenance work on the line to a standard superior to that experienced when the line was in regular service.
Once established, the project will support a number of full time employees, selected for their specialised skills and strongly supported in their work by unpaid volunteers, The spin off employment opportunities will, of course, be far greater, especially in the accommodation, transport, food and general retail industries. The North Coast region, and especially the Coffs Harbour / Dorrigo area will have the potential to reap enormous economic benefits from the establishment of the museum and railway.
Objectives and Ideals
The master plan for DSR&M's corporate future involves two distinct yet closely related entities, namely:
|Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum Limited.
|Dorrigo Railway Museum Trust.
The first of these was incorporated in 1989. Legal work for the establishment of the trust is complete.
Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum Limited is a non-profit public company, limited by guarantee. It was incorporated in November, 1989. The company's current membership stands at about 500. Each member has a vote at the annual general meeting. The day to day operations of the company are controlled by a board of seven directors. Two directors stand for election each year, and these elections are held at the annual general meeting.
Firstly, the company provides corporate management of the museum's projects and operations. It is the company that will have the responsibility of overseeing the restoration of the Dorrigo branch line and the operation of tourist railway services. Secondly, the company provides a forum for persons interested in the Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum project to join together to pursue the development of the museum and to coordinate the activities of the large volunteer workforce. These functions were previously carried out (between 1973 and November 1989) by an informal group of people who supported the museum's development.
A company limited by guarantee is, by definition, a "non profit" company. It's members cannot receive dividends, it's office bearers cannot receive remuneration and all revenue is used by the company for furtherance of it's objectives. In recognition of it's non-profit constitution, the Australian Taxation Office has made all donations to the company tax deductible, and has exempted DSR&M Ltd from payment of income tax.
It is essential that the museum's collection be retained as a unit within New South Wales, and made available for the public's education and enjoyment in authentic condition. Countless hours of volunteer labour, and over two million dollars of supporters contributions, demand that the collection be permanently protected from commercial take-over, financial disaster or exploitation. This measure of security for the collection can only be afforded by a properly constituted trust.
The Dorrigo Railway Museum Trust will be somewhat like the Sydney Maritime Museum Trust (at Darling Harbour). The trust will hold the ownership of the museum's irreplaceable collection, and the freehold land on which it is housed, thereby removing it from financial risk and preserving it's historical integrity. The Trust Deed has been drafted and other legal preparations for the establishment of the trust are complete.
Linkage between the Trust and the Company
The trust (Dorrigo Railway Museum Trust) and the company (Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum Limited) will be linked by means of a maintenance agreement between the two bodies. The trust will make appropriate items available from the collection to the company so that it may operate public trains on the Dorrigo line.
Objectives and Ideals