When people from the Hills District catch the new North West Rail Link in 2019 it will not be the first time a railway has come through the area. In 1901 construction began on a tramline that ran between Parramatta and Baulkham Hills with the primary purpose of carrying fruit and goods, as the Hills District was well-known for its plentiful orchards. The purpose of the tramway was to change after an embarrassing mistake that prevented goods being carried through the township of Parramatta, the man who turner the first sod, Minster for Public Works, Mr. E. W. O’Sullivan, tried to rectify the situation to no avail, this resulted in the tramway being used to carry passengers.
In the collection is a commemorative table candlestick that marks the first sod turned at the Baulkham Hills to Parramatta portion of the line gifted to the Minister for Public Works, Mr. E. W. O’ Sullivan, on March 19th, 1901
In 1910 the line was extended to Castle Hill, with controversy still high over the fact fruit was still not allowed to be carried on the trams, the commissioners would eventually relent and in 1915 goods and fruit could be transported on the tramline.
Throughout the years the tramline was converted to a railway and extended to various areas around the district, but by 1932 the railway line ceased services, due to the increased bus services that were seen to be more efficient
In an ironic twist it will be the new North West Rail Link that will be replacing buses, the current transport used daily by commuters. The Candlestick is a reminder of how history can repeat itself and makes one realise what’s old can be new again!
The Apricot Mail, A History of the Rogan’s Hill Railway 1923-1932, Bruce S. Irwin, 2005
Written by Kate Clancy Curatorial Volunteer