Grafton City (South Grafton)

Started by admin, May 06, 2021, 08:28:41 AM

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South Grafton, 1923 (State Archives of NSW)
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South Grafton Loco, 1958 (Winney Collection)
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Oil fuelling plant, South Grafton, 1/11/1956 (State Archives)
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South Grafton Loco, 1935 (State Archives)
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South Grafton Loco, 23/10/1963 (State Archives)
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Less than a year after the new concrete viaduct was constructed at South Grafton a major flood occurred in the Clarence River in May 1996. The South Grafton levee was not quite completed, so South Grafton flooded. As in previous floods, an emergency passenger rail service was instituted so those people at South Grafton living on the "hill" could cross flooded South Grafton using the viaduct. In this instance a railmotor (looks like a 620/720 class) came up from Newcastle to operate the service (in previous floods the service was often loco hauled passenger carriages). May 1996 was the only time the new viaduct was used for a flood emergency passenger rail service as South Grafton has not flooded since the levee was completed. The preserved section of the old timber viaduct can be seen in this photo.

(Greg Mashiah)
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Down Brisbane Express arriving SOG September 1985.
Photo Late Rodney James
Greg Riddel.
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Peter Neve :

At one time, Railway Refreshment Rooms were to be found at a number of North Coast Line stations, but today, none remain in use. I don't recall seeing many photos on this Page of the interiors of any of these Railway Refreshment Rooms, particularly in use for their intended purpose.
Back in April 1969, a party of NSW Rail Transport Museum members travelled overnight from Sydney to South Grafton by a "Relief Grafton Express". While the train was being remarshalled and double oil-fired 59 class steam locomotives were being attached, we mere passengers had more important matters to attend to – partaking of breakfast in the South Grafton RRR!
I now have no idea what breakfast consisted of – possibly the usual bangers and mash, or maybe eggs & bacon, washed down with either a white or black tea.
However, this black and white photo of mine allows me to relive those memories of some 55 years ago. Today, the RRR no longer exists and South Grafton is now simply Grafton, with the original Grafton (City) on the other side of the Clarence River long gone. Refreshments and meals can be enjoyed at any time on the XPTs servicing the North Coast Line.
Luckily, in my home town of Junee, the former Railway Refreshment Rooms continue to function, but no longer under Railway control. A private lessee operates the RRR, but bangers and mash is not on the menu!
Enjoying the memories (and aromas!). 🧐
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Peter Neve :

The City of Grafton is divided by the Clarence River. Similarly, the North Coast Railway was at one time physically divided by the Clarence – with the Lismore-based Tweed Railway terminating on the north side and the line from Sydney/Newcastle on the southern side at South Grafton. In the years leading up to the completion of the road/rail bridge in 1932 joining the two, there was the train ferry, but that is another story!
Even after the railway crossed the Clarence, Grafton remained to be served by two stations, although the NSWGR based its main operations on the south side at South Grafton. The North Coast Daylight Express from Sydney crossed the bridge to terminate in the town centre at Grafton station on the north side, but then came back as empty cars to South Grafton station and yard to stow for the night, returning to Grafton next morning to form the Daylight service back to Sydney.
The How and Why of Station Names book (SRA of NSW, 1993) tells me that the northside Grafton was closed on 02/06/1974, however this is not correct. According to an entry in Weekly Notice No. 21 of 1974 on p.17, Grafton was closed as a Booking Station as from Saturday 02/06/1974, which means that station staff were withdrawn and the location became an unattended platform. Presumably by this time, the North Coast Daylight Express was terminating and starting from the southside station, the combined non-movements possibly saving around three hours each day. How long northside Grafton remained as an unattended platform is not known as the Station Names book incorrectly quotes the closing date as that when it became an unattended platform. However, the October 1978 issue of NSW Digest in Item D16.333 tells me that: "Shortly after midday on Sunday 27/8, shunting staff at Grafton discovered the disused Grafton station building on fire. Wagons standing nearby were shunted clear and the local fire brigade called. However the timber station building was destroyed, together with railway cables, including the circuit for the E.T.S. Grafton – South Grafton."
"A Thematic History of Grafton" by Brett J Stubbs and published in December 2007 states that in 1917, Grafton Municipal Council started calling itself Grafton City Council, but the basis for this change was not known. On 1 January 1957 the two parts of Grafton, then known as the City of Grafton and the Municipality of South Grafton, were reunited, and together with parts of the adjoining Copmanhurst, Orara and Nymboida Shires they formed an enlarged City of Grafton. Never-the-less, it took the NSWGR almost 20 years to recognise this fact.
According to the Station Names book, South Grafton was renamed Grafton City on 01.10.1976. This date has been confirmed from an entry in Weekly Notice N. 37 of 1976 on p.20. (By now, it will be apparent that I do not trust dates etc. appearing in the Station Names Book and like to confirm or otherwise the information from another source, or at least locate where the original information came from! We all make errors, including myself, evidencing that it is always best to check the information before you quote it ... hence my reference sources quoted above.)
Of course, Grafton was not the only regional location to be served by more than one station. West Tamworth and Tamworth come to mind, again separated by a river, but the prize must be taken by Wyalong which at one time had no less than three stations – South Wyalong, Wyalong Central and West Wyalong! Any other contenders?!
Anyhow, here's my photo of the southside station, when it was known as SOUTH GRAFTON. The photo was taken on Friday 25/04/1969 on the occasion of the commencement of the NSW Rail Transport Museum's steam tour from that point to Murwillumbah and South Brisbane, covered separately on this Facebook Page. Oil-burners 5916 leading 5908 stand at the platform waiting departure. Surprising what photos one finds when looking back through a collection of some 70 years!
Enjoy!!! 🧐
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