Waverly Historical Society
waverley heritage historical society
About Us


newcastle express train 3802

The Society's first fifty years

Our Society was formed in 1962 not long after the centenary of the Municipality of Waverley. Quite apart from the usual celebrations which accompany such a milestone in our history, a wonderful historical tome was brought out documenting the histories of virtually every institution in our borough. Schools, senior government officers, clubs, sporting bodies, charities and churches participated.

A leading Fellow and Councillor of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Mr B.T. Dowd led the compilation of this snapshot in time. The Centenary of the Municipality of Waverley is now a valued historical reference.

It is apparent, though, that aldermen and senior council staff had earlier felt at a loss as records held by council were limited to such matters as land tenure, council constructions and deliberations. One Alderman Dudley Page put much effort in seeing that the situation was remedied and campaigned successfully for an historical society to be formed. A delighted Council formally declared that Ald. Dudley Gilbert Page be recognised as the Founder of the Waverley Historical Society.

Our first President was a judge, Gregory Thomas. A founding dinner was held to celebrate the occasion. Prominent among the guests were members of the legal fraternity, many school principals and more than a few men of the cloth!

The most consistent of the societyís activities has been its education oriented work, especially its monthly meetings with selected speakers, the topics most favoured being, of course, historically based, many, but not all local.

It was hardly surprising that our own Jubilee was celebrated with a sit-down dinner in Club Bondi Junctionís main auditorium with Australiaís currently most sought after speaker, the Hon. Michael Kirby, A.C., C.M.G. with the topic History and the Lawî. It turned out to be an exciting tale, rivalry between armies and monarchs and, in some societies, standing armies with their leaders hell-bent on personal rule! It was great way to round off our first fifty years.

N.S.W. Railways in the 20th century

It is not often that one of our speakers generates the response of 'what happened next' after sharing with us an historical story. Such has been the case of the Railway Historical Society's Peter Sage.

Peter followed up his fascinating talk last year of the first fifty years of Railways in New South Wales with an equally strong run up to the railways we remember and enjoyed in our own lifetimes.

The great stories continued into the twentieth century. The sprawl of Sydney's suburbs saw a magnificent new station, a huge fleet of Thomas-style tank engines to haul carriages to and from the suburbs. But from the outset, plans were laid to eventually replace these with electric carriages.

Peter pointed out that the railways also ran the tram system until the late twenties at least. We had very advanced trams running from 1908 with the design skills made available by the Railways. Those Bondi toast-racks were of this vintage.

Peter's slides showed us the huge public works that began after WW II the open cut into Hyde Park to take the trains to St James Station and the huge hole with temporary slewing of the tram lines in George Street to build the Town Hall station.

We enjoyed the progress of the country trains, seeing them hauled by various locomotives, the earlier ones belonging to huge fleets of fast engines, designed for modest country tracks, then the larger ones firstly for the mountains and the fast run to Newcastle. Finally (for steam), we saw the wartime streamlined steam engine hauling its full set of air conditioned carriages.

The post war era featured the extension of the electric network, especially the faster travel it brought those living on the Blue Mountains, the world's first all double deck electric trains, the huge steam freight engines and the eventual arrival of the diesels. Peter's well illustrated talk showed us that we in New South Wales have so much to be proud of.

* Picture from a 1955 brochure to mark the centenary of NSW Railways. em>