DIAMOND VALLEY RAILWAY INC.
One of Australia's Finest Passenger Carrying Miniature Railways


The Diamond Valley Railway Story

Compiled by: R. May, B. Coleman, S. Cleland and R. Quaife

To commemorate the Silver Jubilee of the Diamond Valley Railway

Published by:
The Diamond Valley Railway Ltd, Eltham 3095, Victoria Australia
Copyright 1985


Preface
Chapter 1 - In the Beginning
Chapter 2 - Getting Established
Chapter 3 - The First Passenger Train
Chapter 4 - Early Years
Chapter 5 - Development With Improvements
Chapter 6 - Spirit In Progress
Chapter 7 - Years Of Change
Chapter 8 - Incorporation

Preface

This book is offered to members and friends of the DVR to mark the Silver Jubilee of the Diamond Valley Railway. Most of the information contained herein has been previously published in the Club's Newsletter.

If you have not been to Eltham, it should be located in your mind's eye - for this 184 mm (7¼") gauge railway is located in parkland close to the Diamond Creek, from which it gets its name. It began in this location in 1960, after the closure of the Chelsworth Park Railway.

The Railway was the brainchild of the late Mr Clem Meadmore. It operated for many years at Chelsworth Park, Ivanhoe before flooding caused its closure. But a number of young men and women saw the possibility of the miniature railway operating elsewhere. These dedicated people, together with Mr Meadmore, struggled to rebuild the Railway on an area of the Eltham Lower Park, which was virgin bushland. Mr Meadmore passed away just after trains began to run again. A Club was then formed to take over the running of the Railway and has continued to grow. As from the 19th of March, 1974, the Railway became incorporated as a public Company, limited by guarantee.

The original track was 3/4" x 3/8" mild steel, welded to plates which in turn were nailed down to 2" x 2" x 14" hardwood sleepers spaced at 10" intervals. However, as the Railway is obliged to run every Sunday, the wear and tear on the wheels by the narrow rail proved to be a problem and the track has now been completely relaid with 14 lb/yd rail. The wear and tear has been reduced considerably and now there is less vandalism than with the lighter rail.

Today, a number of the original dedicated people of the CPR and the DVR are still with the Railway. It is just on 40 years since the ground work started at Eltham and in these years the DVR has shown what it takes to make a successful Miniature Railway.

The aim of the DVR is to provide people, who are not normally railwaymen, the opportunity of building and running a real passenger carrying railway system in miniature. The Railway operation and construction is based on, or as near as possible, that of the Victorian Railways, using scales of: 1/6 full size for rolling stock; ¼ full size for signals and half full size for buildings, and is operated through the voluntary efforts of the members. Membership is open to any interested person over the age of 16 years. Revenue derived from train operations is put back into the Railway for maintenance and new works, while some of it goes to worthwhile charities.

The Diamond Valley Railway Limited has already published a companion booklet, DIAMOND POWER, which gives a pictorial record of the development of Rolling Stock and Locomotives that have been in use on the DVR from its inception to the time of publication.

We would like to record our appreciation of the help and encouragement given from the many members and friends of the DVR, who contributed in one way or another to the compilation of this book. To those who have been with the DVR since the early days and who have, with foresight, dedication and plain hard work, made us what we are today: a special 'thankyou'.

NB: Measurements, weights and money values in this book are presented as they were commonly known at the time the various events took place.

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Chapter 1 - In The Beginning

It was a cold, overcast, winters day in August 1959 after a quiet day's running at Chelsworth Park, Ivanhoe when driver Syd Gillies coupled petrol-mechanical locomotive D1 to steam locomotive No.12 for what was to be the last run of a train on the Chelsworth Park Railway (CPR). Signalman Ron May pulled off the advanced starter signal and the allclear appeared on the upper quadrant signal. Jim Willcox raked No.12's fire and shovelled in some more Maitland coal and stoked up, ready to go, he called to Ray Savage, the Guard of the plank-and-box carriage train. 'All Aboard' yelled Ray, as all the staff of the CPR clambered aboard. The Guard's whistle was blown, and a green flag held high.

The whistles of the two locomotives sounded in unison as the train rolled slowly out of Chelsworth Park station, picking up speed along the dirt road lined with wattles in full bloom. Around the curve and up the long, crooked straight to the bridge the train stormed, then it travelled at a leisurely pace on Rythm curve around the beautiful, lily covered billabong.

Driver Willcox shovelled more coal into the firebox and opened the injector as No.12's long funnel spouted forth rich, black smoke across the Ivanhoe Golf Links, much to the annoyance of a party of golfers teeing off at the 13th hole!

Around the aniseed covered, Blind Curve the train travelled and pulled up at the riverside pumping station where D1 was filled with water to cool its radiatorless engine. The crew shuddered at the thought of a collapse of that embankment - which came sooner than expected! Away they went, along the 'S' bend, over Billabong Culvert, down through the 90-degree curve, across the two stub points and along the reverse curve back to Chelsworth Park station.

It was a beautiful, 7/8th mile long trip and after a couple more staff runs, the two drivers stabled their respective locomotives at the end of the day.

Clem Meadmore, in utter despair, declared that the Railway was finished as far as he was concerned, however, little did he realise that his young and willing helpers had other ideas. Names like: Jim Willcox, Syd Gillies, Ray Savage, Ron May, Neil Allen, Barry Mitchell, Keith Buckland, and Alan Calder, belong to the young men and youths who got together and declared that the Chelsworth Park Railway was not at 'the end of the line' by a long shot!

All items of rolling stock were transferred from Chelsworth Park to Clem's residence at Darebin and, in Clem's workshop, D1 was rebuilt by Ray Savage and Syd Gillies. Alas for No.12, her boiler and chassis were completely rusted up.

The big hunt was on. A new site had to be found, Clem Meadmore and his young helpers searched far and wide. Authorities were approached at Albert Park Lake; Puffing Billy's old engine shed and yards at Upper Ferntree Gully; near the Royal Park bowling green; Yarra Bend National Park near Fairfield Hospital; and many more. Needless to say, all of these applications were unsuccessful. Negotiations commenced with the Northcote City Council and a verbal agreement authorised the shifting of the old rail from Chelsworth Park to the Northcote Football Ground. However this site eventually proved to be unsatisfactory.

A successful turn of events eventuated when one of Clem's friends Mr Jack Morrison, who was a member of the Eltham Lower Park Committee, negotiated a site at the Eltham Lower Park, South Eltham. At a meeting of the Eltham Lower Park Committee, held on 26th June, 1960, the following was discussed:

"Cr Harmer reported on contact from Mr Meadmore regarding the possibility of setting up a miniature train track, etc., in the Park. The track was previously set up in Chelsworth Park, but had been forced to vacate that park. Mr Meadmore was desirous of setting up the track in the Shire of Eltham, and after inspecting various parks, would like to use part of the Eltham Lower Park.

"After a short discussion, standing orders were suspended on a motion of Cr Harmer, to enable Mr Meadmore to attend the meeting and explain his proposition to the Trustees. Mr Meadmore commenced by showing a short film of the train at Chelsworth Park. He then addressed the meeting, setting out, briefly, his proposals. The question of local charities benefiting was raised and assurances received that on certain days, each year, proceeds would go to local charities. After answering various questions from members of the Committee, Mr Meadmore was thanked by the Chairman and advised that the decision of the Committee would be conveyed to him later.

"The meeting then resumed, and after discussion, it was agreed, in principle, that the installation of the Railway would be an asset, not only to the Park, but to Eltham itself. It was then moved by Cr Harmer, Seconded, Mr Philp, that: 'This Committee agrees in principle to permission being granted to Mr Meadmore to instal the miniature railway in the Park, and the Chairman arrange for legal agreement to be drawn up for presentation to the Committee' - CARRIED"

It was a scrubby, swampy, overgrown corner of the huge park used only occasionally by bushwalkers and horse riders; weeds and rough scrub were waist high in most places. Visions of a Miniature Railway meandering through this virgin bushland caught the imaginations of Clem Meadmore and his young stalwarts, and Lo and Behold - The Diamond Valley Railway was in its embryo stage!

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Chapter 2 - Getting Established

A jubilant band of young men met at Ray Savage's flat in Darebin to discuss the formation of the first permanent way, the restoration of the old plank-and-box carriages and locomotive D1. This inaugural meeting was held with the following personnel present:

  • Clem Meadmore
  • Ray Savage
  • Syd Gillies
  • Alan Calder
  • Jim Wilicox
  • John Murdoch
  • Ron May
  • Miss Olive Savage took minutes

Clem Meadmore took charge of the permanent way design. Syd Gillies and Ray Savage were given the task of restoring the sole locomotive. Jim Willcox and Alan Calder were the overseers of the job of gathering the old 3/4" x 3/8" iron bar rail from Northcote and Chelsworth Park, and transporting it to the new site at Eltham Lower Park.

The Progress Engineering Company was commissioned to erect the Railway's first decent building after a loan was obtained from Alan Calder. It was a large, garage type building, measuring some 20 ft wide x 30 ft long and 8 ft high, clad in formed galvanised iron sheeting. Entry was gained by opening two sets of large swing doors. The 'shed', as it was known in those days, was the Railway's workshop, lunch room, change room, kitchen, store room, clubhouse and Way & Works factory, all rolled into one, for many years.

The Shed floor was levelled and work commenced on the laying of the original yards and sidings in front of the Shed. Meanwhile, Clem Meadmore had enlisted the aid of a local bulldozer operator to form the permanent way earthworks. After many breakdowns and hot, dusty weekends the rough earthworks were completed to Clem Meadmore's 'mental' plans and specifications.

During the first permanent way construction works, many new workers joined the band of Railway builders. We witnessed the introduction of William (Bill) Pert; his father, William (Pop) Pert; followed by Arthur Cowan, a local businessman. It soon became a picnic-work affair, when Bill Pert's wife, Joyce and daughters, Faye and Cherry along with Arthur Cowan's son, Ken joined forces with Ron May's father, Ron (senior), in the hard yakka of smoothing out the new earthworks. Soon after, came Peter Nielsen; Bob Baker and his brother, Alan; and another young lady, Marian Edward. How little did they realise at the time the tremendously important part they would play in the formation and subsequent management of the Diamond Valley Miniature Railway Club.

It would suffice to say, at this juncture, that the most inspiring member of the first permanent way gang was the lovable and spritely, 75 year old, 'Pop' Pert. A former VR Signal Construction employe; he belied his age as he toiled away with a heavy 10 lb hammer on his tree-stump anvil, straightening and curving the old, twisted rails ready for installation. After much pick and shovel work, the first permanent way was slowly being formed into what looked like a squashed kidney shape: all of this was carried out without the aid of a level or survey pegs, but to a plan firmly implanted in the mind of the owner, Clem Meadmore.

Fate took a hand just prior to the laying of the first Mainline rail. Mr Meadmore arrived at the site, and as he was walking up to the site of the present Diamond Valley station, he was taken by a sudden heart attack. A dramatic dash to hospital and a long rest period had the physically weak veteran back on his feet again; only sheer will power forced him to go on with the dream of seeing his Railway running again.

It was during February 1961, whilst the Mainline was under construction, that discussions were held between Clem Meadmore and Arthur Cowan about the Railway's future. He desperately wanted to see the first train run at Eltham and, in the event of his passing, to see the young fellows, who had stood by him, remain with the Railway. He expressed the hope that some of the older men would come forward and help the young enthusiasts in the legal matters, until they were old enough to carry on in their own right. Clem had drawn up a will, in which he was going to leave the Railway, with all of its ramifications, to the men that he could trust to carry on. However, Bill Pert and Arthur Cowan had other ideas: a meeting was called at Eltham to discuss the future of the Railway. The suggestion was put forward to form a Club, and after a few thoughtful puffs on his pipe, Clem agreed to the idea and wanted to know how they proposed to go about it.

On the following Sunday, a meeting of all the boys and men decided that the only committment at this stage, was the monthly installment of £9/15/-, due on the Shed. Those present collected £10 between them for that month's payment. It was also agreed that, from that week on, all the men would pay £1 per month and the boys in apprenticeships, 10/- per month. This agreement continued until the first Club Meeting, which was held on the 23rd July, 1961 at Ray Savage's flat. The first Committee was elected and consisted of: Clem Meadmore - Chairman; Ray Savage - Secretary and Arthur Cowan - Treasurer.

Many names were suggested for the, as yet unnamed, Club. The Meeting finally decided upon 'Diamond Valley Miniature Railway Club' as the full title, and the 'Diamond Valley Railway' in short terms. It was also decided that the membership subscription would continue as previously agreed.

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Chapter 3 - The First Passenger Train

Meanwhile, work on the permanent way was going ahead in leaps and bounds. The track had been completed from the old workshops branch, around the old station area, upgrade around a curve, through the new station area, over marshland, thence down grade past Pert's Gully. All this track was laid with the old Chelsworth Park Railway's 2" x 1" redgum sleepers and rails. From the back curve down the straight, Bill Pert, Arthur Cowan and gang laid the old rails on new 4" x 2" hardwood timber using clout nails. This section proved to be the best of the track in those days.

Arthur Cowan had the use of an old Ford truck which aided in the lifting of the Chelsworth Bridge into its original position on the 10th August 1961. Also it is interesting to note that a vast amount of earth was shifted by means of a large, wooden hopper wagon, constructed by Alan Calder and Jim Willcox. Pop Pert's way & works vehicle, a steel hopper wagon mounted on two axles on a long wheelbase, also carried a large quantity of earth 'ballast' for the track. It was definitely a sight to watch the boys heave this vehicle up on its end, spilling the soil between the rails.

On the 17th August 1961, the last section of Mainline was laid into position. It was with a great deal of satisfaction that the Club members gathered around for the driving of the last spike. At last, the 1722 ft of DVR Mainline was complete. That afternoon, Syd Gillies took locomotive S300 (recently renamed from D1) around the track for the first time.

Work proceeded on the old station platform and construction of the wire fence and gates around the platform area. Packing and ballasting of the track continued as shake-down trains travelled around the System in a clockwise direction. Hardly a single trip was successful in not having a slight derailment at first. After much straightening and tamping, the old rails were finally ready for passenger work. Meanwhile, Syd Gillies was preparing S300 and the old CPR box-and-plank carriages for their first passenger run.

October 29th 1961, dawned bright and sunny after a night drizzle which transformed the dusty Park into a fresh, glistening scene of green bushland. Our first ticket seller, Mrs Joyce Pert, was seated at the Ticket Office, which consisted of a table under a colourful beach umbrella. In those days the fares were: Children 6d., Adults 1/-. Syd Gillies was the driver and Ray Savage the guard of the first train now waiting patiently at the platform for the first patrons.

An excited group of boys and girls clambered aboard with an old grandma! "All Aboard", and "keep your hands in", cried guard Savage as he blew his guard's whistle and held aloft a green flag. Driver Gillies gave an acknowledging toot on the locomotive whistle, and as he engaged the gears, released the brakes and opened the throttle, the first revenue earning train on the DVR was on its way!

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Chapter 4 - Early Years

After the first run on 29th October, 1961, much more work had to be done to improve and build up this new little Railway. It was decided to elect supervisors to organise and control the operations and expansion of the DVR. Those duly elected at the November Meeting were: Bill Pert - Locomotives; Bob Baker - Workshops; Alan Calder - Way & Works; Ron May - Signals; Bob Baker - Roster Clerk. It was interesting to note the great importance placed on the workshop and signals operations, even though equipment was practically nonexistant. The few foundation members that were in the DVR in those early days, were extremely safety conscious 3 and all prospective drivers were put through a mandatory driving test before being allowed to take charge of any locomotive. Enquiries were also under way to obtain Public Risk insurance and many rules were formulated in those early Club meeting nights to ensure safe operations whilst carrying passengers.

Financially, it was a hard struggle to maintain liquidity and there were many times when the figures were in the red. Many members rallied around to buy the necessary materials and equipment to keep the DVR going.

Around the end of 1961 the founder of the Diamond Valley Railway, Mr Clem Meadmore, became very ill. He passed away soon after, but not before achieving his ambition of seeing his trains running again. Just before he died, he paid tribute to the young men and not-so-young fellows for their great work in rebuilding the Railway after so many setbacks. The memory of the pipe-smoking, beret wearing, sometimes curt, sometimes happy, little fellow who founded a great project and source of enjoyment for thousands, will always live, with those who knew him well.

Following Mr Meadmore's death and Ray Savage's resignation, the Club Members elected a new Committee: Bill Pert became President; Peter Nielsen - Vice President; Alan Calder - Secretary; and Arthur Cowan continued as Treasurer. Bob Baker, who had recently rejoined the Club, was elected to the position of Assistant Secretary and Syd Gillies was Diesel Foreman. These 'young' men provided the basis for a very active year of construction and to help, was the lively Pop Pert who was elected Chairman of the Club.

The track had settled down considerably and only rare derailments now occurred. However, the steep incline of the long bank and rear curve were proving difficult for all locomotives and it was decided to run trains in the anticlockwise direction. Another spate of derailments occurred which made the change of direction a temporary failure. Extensive alterations and realignments were made to the track and successful anticlockwise running was finally achieved and has remained that way ever since.

At this juncture much planning and building took place in the Signal Department, initiated by Ron May with assistance from Peter Nielsen. A lever frame was erected at the arrival end of the station platform and oversized, three position, upper quadrant signals were installed to protect the workshops branch line stub point. Signals and point being worked by steel wire cables, which had to be adjusted frequently! Needless to say, there was many a hectic moment when the noninterlocked points and signals were set wrongly by the inexperienced signalmen. This prompted an extensive realignment of the sharp curve between Chelsworth Bridge and the station. The stub points were expertly converted to blade points by Bill Pert.

After a year's operations it was becoming painfully obvious that much of the old rail would have to be replaced. During the Summer months, the blazing sun turned many sections of the track into doglegs and 'S' bends. It was a wonder that any trains ran at all over the deformed permanent way. It was decided to replace the small section rail with new 1" x ½" mild steel bar complete with welded sleeper plates at 6" intervals. A section of Mainline was replaced with the new rail which was laid on a rolled, crushed rock track bed. With loosely packed ballast the riding qualities of the track improved immensely. The new steel for this track was kindly donated by Pop Pert.

On the administrative side of proceedings, the DVR's Constitution was redrafted and presented for approval. Much of the General Meetings were taken up by protracted discussions on certification of steam locomotive drivers. During April, 1962, the DVR was presented with its first Newsletter by an unknown Editor. After some secret investigations it was discovered that the Editor was Bob Baker. Bob Edited some further editions with mixed success, but it lapsed after only 3 or 4 issues.

Passenger revenue for the Season 1961-62 was the princely sum of £264/7/7. A new set of Rules and mouth whistle codes came into use, and are still in force today except for a few minor changes.

The DVR continued to progress very well and this was probably due to the Pert family, headed by Pop Pert; his son Bill and Bill's wife Joyce, all of whom made the DVR almost their way of life.

During January, 1963, the members decided to hold all meetings on the first Sunday of each month. An historical motion, passed at the first such meeting, was the adoption of an annual membership fee. The fee was set at 5/- (50c) per year.

The complement of passenger rolling stock was to undergo a major change. The conglomeration of red, green and blue box-and-plank carriages were to be repainted kerrin blue with gold trim and grey inside. The box seats were removed and new core-stock sides strengthened with angle iron and bar, were fitted to the footboards. Each carriage (or coffin car, as they were later known) was fitted with an upholstered seat across the middle to provide extra support for the sides. A new driving car was built for S300 and another carriage was converted to a passenger/guards van, both being made to elevate the driver and guard over the passengers and afforded a better view and safety feature for the train crews. It was a great moment to see the first set of uniform passenger carriages being hauled by S300 around the system, and passengers' comments were most favourable.

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Chapter 5 - Development With Improvements

Planning for the New Station commenced in January, 1963. More use was now being made of the workshops/clubrooms shed as members continued to build new items and carry out maintenance. Flourescent lights were installed over the workbench, power points were installed to enable drills, grinders and welders (mainly Bill Pert's own equipment) to be used.

Drivers were now becoming plentiful, and being safety conscious, it was decided to introduce gradings to improve the standard of drivers of all trains. The first grade driver was considered expert for passenger train work and the second grade driver suitable for goods trains and light engines. All drivers had to undergo training and promotion to achieve grading status whereupon he would be rostered for driving duty each running day.

Bill Pert was doing much work at his home workshops at Newport and many members were going there to assist. So many were turning up, in fact, that it was requested that a maximum of four should be rostered, as Mrs Pert was finding it hard to keep up with all the catering and too much train talk was slowing down the work progress.

Meanwhile, maintenance on the old bar rail was becoming so extensive that it was decided to divide the mainline into 4 sections to be looked after by 4 gangs, prior to running each Sunday morning. To provide urgently needed filling, a channel was excavated from opposite the New Station site towards what is known affectionately as Pert's Gully.

Whilst all this work was going on, prototype permanent way works signs were constructed. These consisted of a fishtailed, yellow background "WARNING" sign, followed by a circular, yellow background "CAUTION 2 MPH" speed board and finally, a square, white background "N" board.

The Annual General Meeting was held in June, 1963 and a Committee and Staff election was held on the same night as the nominations were received. The annual report showed that the DVR had operated quite well for 1962-63 and, after expenses totalling £647/2/-, a surplus of £73/10/6 was recorded.

In August, 1963, it was decided that S300 could not cope with the increasing passenger traffic, and as No. 12 steam locomotive (ex CPR) could not be made available for service without a very major overhaul, a new S class diesel outline locomotive (S301) should be constructed in time for the Christmas, 1963 traffic. However, it was to be many years before S301 was finally completed.

The shock departure of Peter Nielsen, after only one month in office as Vice President and Signal Foreman, saw Jim Willcox and Ron May fill these positions respectively. Also in 1963, we saw Syd Gillies as Club Guarantor with all male, adult members signed up as coguarantors with Syd.

At this juncture, Alan Calder, the Way and Works Superintendant, presented to the Club, a far reaching, 4 stage, 3 year plan for development of the Railway. It embraced relevelling and relaying the track to better grades and curvature and some track extensions. Although it took more than 3 years to complete the basic ideas within that plan; it was the forerunner of many changes yet to come.

On the 11th November, 1963, some 3 years after the inception of the DVR, a new constitution was drawn up and passed by the members. A new signal plan was also adopted at this time. This plan incorporated 3 position, upper quadrant, semaphore signals operated from a lever frame via steel wire cables and a formal code of practice for Guards, using flags and whistles similar to the VR code.

A new pipe and chain wire fence was erected around the Workshops yards, thus making movements around the carriages and locomotives much easier; without the hinderance of a very inquisitive public, who never failed to inspect everything that came to light in the yards.

Then tragedy struck the DVR for the second time in its short history with the sudden death of William Pert Senior, who was affectionately known to all members as 'Pop'. Pop's devotion to the DVR was outstanding and in one instance, although he was a pensioner, he found enough money to make a large donation towards the purchase of some urgently needed 1" x ½" steel to replace unservicable sections of railway line. His friendly and happy disposition made the DVR a great Club to be in, so it is fitting to record the first item of General Business of the 35th General Meeting, on 8th November, 1964:

"The President (A.Calder) opened General Business by paying tribute to the late Mr W. (Pop) Pert, who was one of the foundation members of the DVR. Mr Calder passed on to Bill Pert, in the Chair, on behalf of the members and himself, our heartfelt regret at the sudden loss of this outstanding and most devoted member."

During the latter part of 1964, two items came up for discussion that would change the entire future of the DVR. Firstly, was the idea of relaying the present Railway system with 14 lb/yd rail as recommended by the Way and Works Superintendant. In connection with this, it was suggested that a social trip be organised over Christmas, with the purpose of hunting down all possible 14 lb/yd rail from disused quarries, railways and tramways within the state. The second item was the presentation of lower quadrant semaphore signals, constructed to scale from prototype drawings. Three sizes were considered, namely: 1/3 full size; ¼ full size; and 1/6 full size. Replicas of each scale were placed at various positions around the system, and members were invited to vote for their preference of scale size. It was finally agreed that the ¼ full size signals would be the most acceptable for the DVR.

From the beginning of 1965 and for the following two years, much work was carried out by all departments. In an effort to make the signalling system more realistic, Jeff Scott offered his garage as a workshop to construct ¼ full size, lower quadrant, semaphore signals. The first signal was subsequently installed on a trial basis in the Home arrival position on the Branch line from the workshop.

The Rolling Stock Branch also had much work to do. The old mainline was tearing the heart out of the carriage and locomotive wheels which were of a soft metal. This problem was overcome by shrinking steel tyres onto the remains of the cast iron wheels. The rear driving bogie of S300 was completely rebuilt with steel wheels, sprockets, axle boxes, etc. Another great event from the Rolling Stock Branch was the birth of the DVR's first scale model locomotive, namely: W241. This replica of the VR's W class made its debut, much to the delight of members and visitors alike. After minor teething troubles, W241 carried much of the 1965 Christmas traffic.

Not to be outdone, Russel Ryan, who was a budding autoelectrician, took the ailing F class locomotive (known affectionately as: Leap'n Lena) under his wing. Working with much industry, this brilliant young lad introduced a new era to the DVR. Locomotive W100 was born out of the old F class and it was powered by an electric motor and lead-acid accumulators. This great little locomotive proved that electric traction was a field from which a miniature railway could benefit greatly. The locomotive could be switched for hauling power or for high speed, light running.

The Way and Works Branch also had a very hard working period. Roly Barling made a great contribution to the DVR by organising the installation of the first tunnel. Approximately 16 ft of 6 ft diameter reinforced concrete pipe was laid in the deep cutting. This new attraction provided much excitement for the patrons in the years to come. The Oakleigh quarry was a venue for a large working bee. After negotiating with the Company, arrangements were made to collect 14 lb/yd rail. Nearly all of the rail had to be removed from the floor of the quarry and stacked ready for transport. Jim Willcox and Alan Calder transported the rail to track site. The task of track relaying started in earnest. Most of the rail had to be straightened or curved to the desired radius before it could be used. The curving process was done by one of two methods, the first involved inserting the rail between two trees close together and three or four members shouting together: 'Heave-ho' and pulling the rail into shape. The other method involved the use of a JimCrow machine.

The excavation and levelling of the new track bed commenced in the cutting just past the tunnel, and swept in a large, 60 ft radius 'S' bend towards the arrival end of the proposed New Station. To cross the gully, a viaduct bridge was required.

The much vaunted new rail was now being laid at a great rate, consuming many hundreds of sleepers, tons of ballast and millions of thumping whacks as members took turns to drive the dog spikes home - this was true railway work at first hand. On a good day, 70 ft of running track would be laid and ballasted, which was great work considering we only had Bill Pert's drill and many broken hammers.

The old branch line in the New Station area was removed and replaced with 14 lb rail from the 1" x ½" blade point to near the old diamond crossing. The 'S' bend was completed from near the diamond crossing towards the tunnel exit, including crossing "Willcox" bridge, as the viaduct bridge is known. All the connecting pieces were constructed and on the weekend of 18th September, 1966, the diamond crossing and sharp curves were abolished and the first revenue trains ran over the new section of 14 lb rail. Thus another era commenced at the DVR, with the introduction of better riding qualities and less wear and tear on the rolling stock.

Meanwhile, at the old station area, the new lower quadrant semaphore signals were proving a great success with the working power being provided by mains water pressure, piped from a three-way cock to hydraulic pistons on the signals and points. The signals and points are returned to their 'normal' position by means of a spring when the water pressure is removed. Five new Home and two new Disc signals were constructed for the old station area and the main line point converted to hydraulic operation during the Spring of 1966.

Bill Pert again showed his versatility in the latter part of 1966 when the DVR's first all steel, scale model of a Vicrail GY class goods wagon ( No. 1966 GY ) was introduced into service, complete with working side doors, hand brake and remote uncouplers.

Thus the period up to the end of 1966 was very exciting time of progress, which saw the introduction of new ideas, new methods of construction, new skills and a sense of achievemnet in scale modelling of miniature railways. Much of this era was captured by the Sun News Pictorial in a centre page spread, showing the great tourist potential that can result from the dedicated spirit of the members of the DVR.

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Chapter 6 - Spirit In Progress

Up to the beginning of 1967, the Diamond Valley Railway story had been a record of remarkable progress, much of which was due to the efforts of a small, but dedicated band of members who turned up week after week. But then the proverbial 'seven year itch' began to make its presence felt. In recent years many new members joined the DVR and differences of opinion were rising, on which was the best way for the little railway to develop! Consequently, the development went into a period of stagnation. Some members even resigned in protest at the way things were going.

Nineteen-sixty eight was a tremendous year, with new milestones being achieved. The Way and Works Branch, with a new Superintendant, Jim Willcox, leading a band of energetic workers, started some new projects which were to change the whole face of the system. The projected New Station was now beginning to take shape, with the installation of the platform retaining walls and a cyclone mesh fence along the boundary of the future dock road area.

An hilarious new 'Department' was formed. The 'Ulcer Department' was responsible for the construction of points for the 14 lb rail. After much scratching of heads and following designs prepared by Robin Quaife, a 100 ft radius, 14 lb, blade point was finally constructed. This point was installed at the departure end of the new station to provide a connection to the dock road. A further two 100 ft radius points were constructed in rapid succession and the express road through the new station was soon in commission. Point construction was a hard, but rewarding job which takes a long time to complete. A quote from the 'Ulcer Department' is very appropriate: "The Hurrier we go, the Behinder we get!"

With the 14 lb rail relaying progressing well, the supply of rail obtained from Oakleigh was dwindling fast. Through the agency of Richard Hayes, we were fortunate to gain a new source of supply from a defunct quarry in East Hawthorn. A large working bee, ably assisted with lorries, driven by Allan Calder and Jim Willcox, saw another buildup of rail, in fair condition, to be used in the continuing main line relaying program.

To cope with an increase in storage requirements at the DVR, a mezzanine floor was constructed over the four carriage storage roads in the old workshop. This area also provided a new point construction bench.

Meanwhile, S300 had its ford 10 motor reconditioned. The departure of W100 at this time created a greater workload for S300. In the 4 year period since January 1964, this locomotive had recorded an incredible 7,000 running miles. During the latter part of the 1967 Christmas period, a new locomotive joined our small diesel fleet. T320 was the name of this new locomotive, owned and built by John Murdoch, with assistance from Bill Pert and others. T320 is a very historic locomotive and is unique because of its design concept. The combination of a petrol motor and electric generator driving electric traction motors is a first in model railwaying of scale size, in Australia at least.

The idea was formulated after the success Russel Ryan achieved with his battery-electric locomotive W100. T320 also hearalded another innovation for the DVR, namely air brakes. T320's ability to pull up was greatly improved and provided a taste of real railway locomotive operation.

With the introduction of another large locomotive for regular running and the completion of a passing loop with a facing point, the need for a proper signalling system increased tremendously. Members were given the opportunity of training in signalling procedures through the agency of Brian Coleman, a signalman himself with Vicrail. This member was to transform the whole DVR system in the years to come. Also, at this stage, the Signal and Telegraph Branch was formalised and given the task of constructing point machines and signalling systems for the safety of the Railway. To this purpose, regular work nights were set up at Jack Rutledge's home. Five regular members soon had the group flourishing and a new set of scale model VR type searchlight power signals and scale model, lower quadrant signals were produced. Most of these items are still in active service today.

The spirit of clubmanship was further enhanced with the election of a Social club whose activities met with much success. A great innovation was the DVR's first organised club trip which took the form of an allnight tram tour around Melbourne's Suburbs, with John Murdoch as the voluntary tram driver.

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Chapter 7 - Years Of Change

Information about the 1968 - 1970 period is very sketchy, but it was a period of continual growth within all areas of the Diamond Valley Miniature Railway Club's activities. The highlights of this period are mentioned briefly below:

  • Searchlight signals and a Block Telephone communication system were temporarily provided for the New Station area during December 1968, in time for the, as usual, expected heavy pre Christmas traffic.
  • Approval, in principle, was granted, by the membership, for the installation of Automatic Signalling on the main lines between station areas, and for the installation of galvanised iron and copper piping for the hydraulically operated semaphore signals and points.
  • In May 1969, a Signalman's course was adopted.
  • The financial report for this period showed a bank balance of $2,230-15 with $40-00 cash in hand.
  • Some months later, 'A' Signal Box, at the old station, was opened for use, even though it was only partly completed.
  • Plans were prepared for the construction of 'B' Signal Box, near the New Station, which was later to be known as Diamond Valley station, and for the extensions to the tunnel.
  • Over the Christmas, 1969 period, work commenced on the construction of 'B' Signal Box and a number of 6 ft diameter reinforced concrete pipes were obtained and in January, the tunnel was extended in length from 16 ft to a majestic 88 ft, and its ends finished off with portals that look as if they were constructed of scaled down bluestone blocks.

During 1971, Roly Barling, the Way and Works Superintendant, realised our ambitions of completing the main line relaying in 14 lb rail, just prior to the Annual General Meeting. This, coupled with the opening of the partly completed, Diamond Valley station platform for passenger operations and the almost finished outside appearances of both 'A' and 'B' Signal Boxes, were the highlights of 1971.

At the beginning of 1971, a future-planning sub-committee was formed to formulate plans for the following 10 years.

Earthworks were commenced near the old station, in preparation for new main line laying and for relocating the old workshops branch line. During March, main line relaying advanced to the departure end of the old station, Chelsworth Bridge was extensively repacked for track levelling.

With the completion of the 14 lb main line imminent, the old station platform was demolished; 'A' Signal Box (including the ticket office) was relocated its present position and the fencing rearranged so that patrons could purchase their tickets from the ticket office, thence board the trains that were now operating from the arrival platform of Diamond Valley station.

The final linkup of the main line (in 14 lb rail) was achieved during June, including a portion of the branch to the old workshops.

After many months of preparation, the new ticket office and platform stanchion pads were poured and work then proceded on the installation of roof stanchions and a framework for the new ticket office at Diamond Valley station. A heavy-duty level crossing was constructed near 'A' Signal Box.

Cables and water piping from 'A' and 'B' Signal Boxes were installed and covered for future signalling installations. A level crossing adjacent to the facing points at the approach to Diamond Valley station was constructed. A bracket signal was installed at the departure end of Diamond Valley station and a new light signal was installed at 'A' signal box to protect a new set of points installed near the mouth of the tunnel. Some time later, a wigwag level crossing warning device was placed into service, and stages 1 and 2 of the signalling installation at 'B' Signal Box were completed, and 'A' Signal Box was completely weatherboarded and painted.

Whilst the track and signal works were progressing, the Rolling Stock branch was not idle: Fire extinguishers were fitted to all 'diesel' locomotives; Alan Parker's Pacific steam locomotive was running well after a major overhaul at our own 'Newport' workshops (Bill Pert's workshop); Nine passenger car bogies were rebuilt with steel wheels and put into service; Locomotive S301 was progressing well at 'Newport' workshops with the electrical systems being installed; Locomotive S300 completed 10 years running at the DVR, clocking up some 11,000 miles. The Rolling Stock branch brought into service a new, steel flatcar, WW6.

It was noted that a quarter million passengers had been carried since October 1961. The 1971 Annual General Meeting saw some major changes in the Committee. Bill Pert was re-elected to the position of President; Jack Rutledge, Robin Quaife and Brian Coleman were elected into office for the first time; Peter Nielsen was elected Treasurer, replacing Arthur Cowan, who had served an unbroken term of office since the Club's inception.

The Diamond Valley Miniature Railway Club members celebrated 10 years of passenger operations with a dinner dance at Salzburg Lodge on 29th October, 1971. T320 locomotive underwent a major overhaul in preparation for the Christmas peak period. The Signal and Telegraph branch installed the DVR's first scale model fully automatic, searchlight signal.

Extensive track maintenance was carried out for the expected peak load service during November. The Outer Circle main line was commenced from near 'B' Signal Box. Alan Parker's steam locomotive, now numbered 610, carried regular passenger services through the month with great success. 'A' Signal Box became fully automatic to switch-out stage - all signals being worked by trains on the main line. The Social club organised another successful tram tour. A third attempt at establishing a Club newsletter was made under the Editorship of Brian Coleman; this newsletter is still being published!

In a major setback, the Victorian Health Department threatened to close the Railway because the tunnel was not installed in accordance with the Regulations. To quote the Secretary of the day:

"On Tuesday, 7th December, 1971 the President and I discovered that the Health Department had refused to renew our certificate of safety. The reasons were: a) the installation of a tunnel without applying for approval from the Department; b) that the tunnel, as it is, has insufficient headroom or side clearance.

"This would have meant the closing of the Railway with heavily booked weekends coming up, or risk a heavy fine. After many telephone calls around the suburbs on that afternoon (most emanating from the Maidstone area), I was very gratified with the turn up of members at the Club rooms that evening, to discuss the situation. It was decided to reroute the track around the tunnel and reapply for the certificate of safety on that basis.

"Further working bees were organised on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon, to have the track re-routed and ready for inspection by the Engineer on Friday morning. The plans and Engineer's approval were rushed into the Health Department on Friday afternoon and we were ready to run on the Sunday."

By the end of 1971, the level crossing near 'A' Signal Box was completed over two tracks and work commenced on signalling and point operating devices for the new crossovers recently installed near 'B' Signal Box.

Work got off to a good start in January 1972, with the roofing of the new Diamond Valley station building. Earthworks were undertaken for the excavation of a new main drain near 'A' Signal Box; much levelling took place for the future carriage sidings near 'B' Signal Box and signalling systems at both Signal Boxes were officially commissioned into service after much testing.

Laying of imitation bluestone bricks for the New Station building was completed and water services connected to the building during February. As an experiment, in welding 14 lb rail into long lengths, two 80 ft lengths were satisfactorily constructed and installed in the, now closed, tunnel. At about the same time, the Dock Road (No. 3) at Diamond Valley was relaid and levelled for use by passenger trains, and as a test, both the arrival and departure ends of the station platform were used temporarily.

The DVR acquired most of the rolling stock from the defunct 10?" gauge Valley Railway, Noojee, and conversion to 7?" gauge was undertaken. The battery-electric Ganger's Trolley (ERT1) was the first item to be brought into service. Then a flatcar and GPX11 wagon were soon commissioned after gauge conversion.

Ammendments to various clauses of the DVR Constitution were presented and passed for adoption by the general membership. The Annual General Meeting and Elections of Office Bearers were conducted during July, with quite a few changes taking place: Syd Gillies became Club President; Roly Barling, Vice President; Brian Coleman, Secretary; Bob Worland, Assistant Secretary; and Ron May, Assistant Treasurer. Peter Nielsen was re-elected Treasurer; Bill Pert and Brian Coleman were re-elected as Rolling Stock Superintendant and Signal and Telegraph Superintendant, respectively. Jim Willcox was elected the new Way and Works Superintendant. Furthermore, Syd Gillies, Bill Pert and Ron May were nominated and accepted as Club Lincensees for the next four years. The fares were increased, for the first time in 6 years, to 20 cents per ride, children and adults.

Meanwhile, work continued in the various branches: a new point was installed near 'B' Signal Box and was fitted with a 'Q45' hand lever; an independant water pressure system was installed in 'B' Box for the operation of hydraulic points and signals; two hydraulic point machines were installed on the single slip points outside 'B' Box and, after testing, were brought into service. Work on the provision of new tunnel doors was undertaken and trackwork commenced on the laying of the tunnel storage siding and the lead from the main line. The lowering of the deviation around the tunnel resulted in an overall easier gradient for trains. The new Diamond Valley station building was completed to lockup stage. An extra siding was laid at Diamond Valley yards for storage of standby passenger trains. A point was installed in the tunnel storage siding, and the siding declared in service. Eight passenger cars were transferred to the tunnel for storage, thus relieving overcrowding that existed at the old workshops.Meanwhile, work continued in the various branches: a new point was installed near 'B' Signal Box and was fitted with a 'Q45' hand lever; an independant water pressure system was installed in 'B' Box for the operation of hydraulic points and signals; two hydraulic point machines were installed on the single slip points outside 'B' Box and, after testing, were brought into service. Work on the provision of new tunnel doors was undertaken and trackwork commenced on the laying of the tunnel storage siding and the lead from the main line. The lowering of the deviation around the tunnel resulted in an overall easier gradient for trains. The new Diamond Valley station building was completed to lockup stage. An extra siding was laid at Diamond Valley yards for storage of standby passenger trains. A point was installed in the tunnel storage siding, and the siding declared in service. Eight passenger cars were transferred to the tunnel for storage, thus relieving overcrowding that existed at the old workshops.

Locomotive W100 returned to the DVR rails after an absence of six years, being amongst the items purchased from the Valley Railway, it was tested for several weeks and ran satisfactorily. During September, locomotive T320 was repainted, packed into a box then forwarded by road, to Western Australia, to run on the rails of the Castledare Miniature Railways. John Murdoch and Robin Quaife accompanied T320 whilst it was in W.A. The visit was very successful, and was the forerunner of many interchanges of visitors between these two great Clubs, from the opposite sides of Australia.

A new position, namely Station Master, was created by the Committee to improve the working efficiency of the new Diamond Valley station, which had three platforms and was capable of handling up to, as many as, 20 trains per hour.

The year, 1972, closed with a record 48,786 passengers carried, an increase of 3.5% over the previous year's total. To close the year's activities, the Social club organised the Annual Christmas party, which was enjoyed by everyone present.

And now comes 1973, the last full year of the Diamond Valley Miniature Railway Club, this year was definately a year of advancement, especially in the motive power department: Repairs were effected to T320's traction motors and air compressor, this locomotive was also fitted with an automatic field changeover device, (consisting of 4 diodes) thus eliminating the manual changeover switch; Work on the construction of S301 was still proceeding, with electrical wiring well in hand; Jim Willcox's experimental 'E' calss 0-4-0 battery-electric locomotive was withdrawn from service and stripped of reusable parts; A new scale model 'ZL' class Guards van ( 1 ZL ) was commissioned into service; W241 was withdrawn from traffic, fitted with a new Honda engine, painted and returned to traffic.

Sometime later, Jim Willcox's new E1103 Bo-Bo battery-electric locomotive arrived at the DVR, and after some teething troubles, turned out to be a very effective locomotive for general duties; Alan Parker's No 610 pacific steam locomotive departed for places unknown after performing well on special trains chartered by the GMH Social club, which held its annual picnic at the Park; Gordon Webb's incomplete B71 petrol-mechanical locomotive arrived at the DVR for completion.

On Sunday 30th November, 1973, all members present at the DVR had the surprise of their lives - not one steam locomotive was running - but three colourful steam locomotives graced the DVR tracks: John Murdoch's green 4-6-2 pacific steam locomotive; Doug Middleton's BRITANNIA, a beautiful machine built by Doug himself, taking two years to complete. This locomotive was entered in the Lake Goldsmith Steam Rally and won first prize for the best model steam exhibit.

Then there was a 0-6-0 tank locomotive which is called COOLUM - a very colourful locomotive, with its green, red, white and black paint and complete with coffee pot smoke stack and rather large brass dome and a wonderful sounding whistle. This locomotive was built in 1971 by J. Jackson of Brisbane, for Mr B. G. Willaims of Gosnells, W. A., a member of the Castledare Miniature Railway. Owing to ill health, Mr Williams was unable to use his locomotive so he sold it to Brian Coleman and Robin Quaife, who brought it back to the DVR.

Work was also progressing well in the other departments: new signal track circuits were activated for the 'B' Signal Box control area; An electric motor point machine was installed on '15' points at 'A' Signal Box, the first of many more to come; we acquired a railbender and a quantity of 14 lb rail and some odd locomotive parts from a Dandenong firm, and construction commenced , in earnest, on the manufacture of many more 14 lb points. One of these points was installed at the tunnel mouth and a second track was built in the tunnel, increasing its storage capacity; The Diamond Valley station building and station roof were being completed, slowly but surely.

Meanwhile, on the administrative side, discussions were taking place with a view of forming the DVR into a Company, various ammendments to the DVR Constitution were presented and adopted, a railmotor excursion to Korumburra and Jumbunna was organised by the Social club, a special run was conducted for the kids from the Allambie Homes and charity runs were held for the Royal Childrens Hospital, the Salvation Army, the Araluen Day Training Centre and the Eltham Community Youth Club.

During July, the Annual General Meeting was held with few changes in the Committee taking place: Bill Pert became Vice President; Gary George and Jim Willcox were elected Assistant Treasurer and Rolling Stock Superintendant, respectively. Re-elected for a further term were: Syd Gillies, President; Brian Coleman, Secretary; Bob Worland, Assistant Secretary; Ron May, Treasurer; Brian Coleman, Signal and Telegraph Superintendant and Ron May, Way and Works Superintendant.

And so ends another great period of advancement of the Diamond Valley Railway!

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Chapter 8 - Incorporation

At the November, 1973 Committee Meeting, recommendations were adopted from the Constitution Sub-committee which included the appointmnet Mr S. McCarthy to draft a suitable Memorandum and Articles of Association for the proposed Company and to present the documents to the members at a Special General Meeting to be called for Sunday, 3rd February, 1974. The name chosen for the proposed Company was, the Diamond Valley Railway Limited.

Following the overwhelming support of the members for the formation of a Company, a Committee Meeting was held on 29th March, at which motions were passed to:

  • Allow the Diamond Valley Railway Limited (which had been formally incorportated on 19th March, 1974) to acquire the funds, assets and liabilities of the Diamond Valley Miniature Club,
  • Formally dissolve the Diamond Valley Miniature railway Club on and after 1st July, 1974,
  • Elect Office Bearers and Staff Officers,
  • Adopt the Seal of the Company, and
  • Allow all financial members of the Diamond Valley Miniature Railway Club who wish to transfer to the Diamond Valley Railway Limited to be accepted as foundation members of the new Company, up to 19th March, 1975.

The First Annual General Meeting of the Diamond Valley Railway Limited, was held at the Railway's meeting room, Eltham Lower Park, on Sunday 1st September, 1974. It was well attended, there being 34 members and guests present, with business getting underway at 8.00 p.m.

After apologies were received, the President presented his report summarising the past year's activities, stating that the obvious highlight was the incorporation of the Railway as a Company, limited by Guarantee. The Secretary followed with his report touching on many issues involving membership, administration and social activities. The balance sheets and statuory reports of the old Club and the new Company were presented and adopted.

Branch reports were then presented and many interesting events were relived, reminding the members of what they had achieved during the past year.

After a refreshment break, the Annual Elections were conducted: Doug Middleton became President; Jim Willcox and John Murdoch - Vice Presidents; Ian West and Bill Day - Ordinary Committee. Brian Coleman was re-elected Secretary and Signal and Telegraph Superintendant, Ron May was re-elected Treasurer and Way and Works Superintendant and Bill Day was also elected Rolling Stock Superintendant.

The next item on the agenda was the appointment of Company Audit- ors. A resolution was duly passed for the appointment of the firm of C. W. Stirling and Co.

After General Business and an adress by the President-elect, Doug Middleton, the meeting was closed at Midnight.

Thus, the Diamond Valley Railway was about to enter another new era!

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