ALLAN WATSON - at NEWNES

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The personal information that follows is limited, but this is all you need to know about my involvement with Newnes.
How I became involved with Newnes:
Self at Newnes, 1951 - JPEG 9kb I first came to Newnes over 60 years ago; during Easter, 1951 in fact. I was a very young lad at the time and this visit was with my family. As I recall, it rained for much of the time, but the visit must have made a big impression, as I have been coming back ever since.
  • In the adjacent photo, taken in 1951, I am standing on the front of what then remained of Shay locomotive #4.
    Click on photo for larger version - 29k.
I really started visiting Newnes in earnest in the 1960s, after I started working and had purchased my own car. I had developed an interest in railways during my school years and the railway to Newnes proved to be of particular interest. However, I soon expanded this interest to cover the whole history of the oil-shale industry in New South Wales.
As a member of the Australian Railway Historical Society, I served on the production team of the book "Shale Railways of New South Wales", published in 1974. This book by Gifford Eardley and Eric Stephens updated and brought together several earlier articles by both authors, including Eric's popular 1959 "Bulletin" article on the Wolgan Railway. After some years being out of print, this book was reprinted in 2000 with an addendum to update and correct some of the details.
For the benefit of the numerous railway enthusiasts who are interested in the Wolgan Railway, I have added some railway-specific pages to this web site. Access is through the Home Page.
In 1979 I was again involved with another book published by the ARHS. This book was based on Henry Deane's 1910 comprehensive article on the construction of the railway to Newnes.
By the 1980s I realised that at least one item of rolling stock that had been used on the Wolgan Railway was still in existence. However, by the time I managed to tackle the logistics of doing something about it, the wagon concerned had been scrapped. Never-the-less, I was able to obtain some parts from it and eventually three other wagons (none of which had actually been to Newnes before) were purchased with the intention of rebuilding at least one to resemble one of the Newnes vehicles. These wagons were trucked to Newnes in 1984/5 and some preliminary work was undertaken, including the painting and lettering of two of them.
The wagons were sited opposite the old pub, partly for security reasons. Unfortunately the pub itself was damaged in a big flood in August 1986, and the building was subsequently moved to a new site in July 1987. Even worse, the liquor licence eventually had to be sold and the pub sold its last beer in October 1988. As the family who ran the pub were moving out, I could see the old building standing empty and possibly regarded as "abandoned" and eventually vandalised by some of the more irresponsible people in our society. To keep up some ongoing function for the hotel, I accordingly offered to operate a kiosk on weekends in the bar of the old building and this was accepted. I started operating the kiosk on Saturdays only from November 1988, but I have since extended it to operate on both Saturdays and Sundays. All of this has meant that the railway wagons have received only limited attention since 1988.
Self at Newnes, 1990s - JPEG 14kb
  • Here is a more recent picture of yours truly. Its at Newnes, but some 48 years after the top photo. As I have been running the kiosk since late 1988, it may well be that I have become a Newnes relic myself!
Well, I am still at Newnes and I now own a house nearby. The pub was sold in 2001 and the new owner has since been upgrading the facilities there. We now have solar-powered electricity and more improvements are underway. At this stage the kiosk will continue to function as it has in the past and it looks as if I will still be behind the counter for a few more years yet.
I hope to see you at Newnes sometime real soon!
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  Links to the "historical" pages on this web site:
Aboriginal Newnes History of Newnes Oil-shale Processing Bibliography Movies at Newnes Allan Watson at Newnes
Names - A to C Names - D to G Names - H to L Names - M to R Names - S to Z Employee list, 1932
Return to HOME PAGE for links to other pages on this web-site.

This page last updated 09Jan2013