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 ...one of things of the



The Railway's place in the KellyGang story

The importance of the railway in the story of the KellyGang is hard to over estimate. The first railway line in Melboure was built in 1854. The line from Melbourne to Echuca was completed in July 1864, ten years before the Melbourne Wodonga line, in 1874, While the Echuca line was put in to capture the trade on the River Murray from New South Wales.

The line to Wodonga also captured for Melbourne the wealth of an important area and altered for ever the routes that people took as they travel to towns like Beechworth. The line meant that the wealth of the Benalla and Albury regions also could be quickly brought to Melbourne. Towns like Greta were by passed in favour of Glenrowan.

Some were not happy at taking cases from all over North Eastern Victoria to Beechworth after the arrival of the railway (Ensign25/4/1873)

By 1876 the Victorian Government was using the railways to exert influence over the Riverian in New South Wales by transporting wool produced in New South Wales from Euchca and Wodonga to Williamstown at a reduced rate

What was it like to travel on the train? A trip from Longwood to Wodonga(Alexandra12/8/1876)

A trip from Melbourne to Echuca (T&C29/6/1872)

The railway has been described as a 'Steal God'. It was certainly seen as a great sign of 19th Century progress and every town wanted its own railway station. Railway workers were people with status. The train ment that people and goods could travel from place to place at speeds that were unheard of at a time when horses and bullocks were the main alternative. It had a great impact on selection. (Argus19/4/80)

The importance of the railway to the police is perhaps best illustrated by the cost. (RC735)

Fear that the KellyGang had attacked a train (Argus19/11/79)

There was an interesting relationship between coaches and the railway (Argus17/1/81)

The Railway Stations, time table and cost

See list of towns with stations

The time table of trains to and from Benalla in 1874

The trains are Melbourne daily (Sundays ezcepted) at 7am. and 2 pm; arrive in Benalla at 12.25 pm., and 7.34 p.m., and after stopping 15 min, on to Wodonga. arriving there at 3.30 pm. and 10.37 pm.; and the trains.leave Wodonga daily (Sundays excepted) at 6 25 am, and 1.45 pm; arrive in Benalla at 9.13 am. and 4.34 pm, and, after stopping a quarter of an hour, go to Melbourne, arriving there at 2.26 pm and 9.31 pm

Typical fares to and from Benalla in 1874, these are about 2/3 of the first lot of fares

To single 1st class single 2nd class return 1st class return 2nd class
Melbourne 10/6 13/6 /- /-
Essendon 19/6 13/- /- /-
Kilmore 13/9 9/- /- /
Seymour 10/- 6/9 /- /-
Longwood 6/- 4/3 /- /
Euroa 4/9 3/3 /- /-
Violet Town 2/9 2/- /- /-
Wangaratta 4/- 2/9   /
Chiltern 8/- 5/- /- /-
Barnawartha 8/6 5/9 / /
Wodonga 11/- 7/6 / /

People who worked on the railways in the Kelly country

See list of railway people.

In the 1870s and 1880s the railways employed a lrge number of people. We know the names of a few station masters and engine drivers and guards. But the great army of level crossing gate keepers. stokers, plate layers, cleaners, gravelmen and others largely remain anomous. .

Trains used in the area

Details of the Trains used

There were different trains used on the line between Wangaratta and Beechworth because of the hills (RC8998)

The police had lots of problems with the carriages used to carry horses. Part of the reason why they were late in starting off for Euroa after the robbery was beacuse they could not get the horses laoded

Performance of the 'Fairlie' engine that could be used on the line to Beechworth (Argus1/8/70)

The line

The building of the lines took a significant effort and provided a lot of work. First cuttings had to be dug by hand using picks, shovels and horse drawn scoops. Areas had to be built up and bridges constructed. Larges bridge timbers had to be cut by sawmillers like Saunders and Rule where Ned Kelly worked. There was also a lot of sleepers that had to be cut by the sawmillers and taken up the line.

They wanted a line to places like Alexandra and Mansfield and suggested a line on the 'Fairlie principle' (Alexandra3/5/1872)

One of the first meetings to push for the railway was held in Beechworth in 1866.

They had great expectations with all the cost worked out. (Argus25/5/66)

The next meeting of representatives from all over the area was held in Wangaratta (Argus29/8/67)

What route should the line take (Argus3/9/68) (Argus22/8/68) (Argus1/8/70)

The Benalla bridge (Ensign5/1872)

How was progress going (Argus20/2/73) (Argus24/2/73)

Eastern line were opened from Melbourne as follows: to Violet Town on 20/3/1873,

to Benalla on 18/8/1873, (Argus28/7/73) (Ensign15/8/1873) (Argus19/8/73)

to Wangaratta 28/10/1873, (Argus28/10/73) and

right through to Wodonga 21/11/1873.

Completion of the line to Wodonga (Argus20/11/73) Cost of the line (Argus20/11/73)

Building the line from Everton to Beechworth (Argus8/1/76)

The line finally arrived at Beechworth (Argus30/9/76)

Trip from Sydney to Goulburn (T&C25/6/1870)

The steel track had to be imported from overseas and then tranported by train up the line from Melbourne. Most of it came from England.

Visit ...

Importance of the Railway to the police and the community

The railway line ran around two sides of the Kelly country in north eastern Victoria places like Benalla and Beechworth. But the police did not know how use new technology. It was used to bring a large number of police to the Sebastopol cavalcade without any planned organisation.


Police special to Benalla after the Murders at Stringy Bark Creek

At about 3pm on 28/10/1878 a train left Melbourne for Benalla with a number of police including,Com Standish, and AssCom Nicolson and Consts Kelly, Faulkiner, Strahan, and Dakin. The train also carried extra firearms for the hunt against the KellyGang.

A train took most of the police from Benalla to Beechworth for the Sebastopol cavalcade. (Argus8/11/78)

A response to the KellyGang's threat to the railway (Argus20/12/78)

Trains and the Euroa robbery

Just before the Euroa robbery the train with Nicolson and Sadleir took off in the wrong direction. When the police in Benalla finally found out about the Euroa robbery they could not load their horses into the old train carriages for some time because of poor design. When they arrived at Faithfull's Creek Station they could not unload the horses and had to travel on to the platform at the Euroa railway station. There are a number of other examples of similar problems.

Mr Wyatt caught the 4.4 luggage train from Violet Town to Euroa on the way down and the train that left Euroa after 7pm for Benalla.

The KellyGang captured the platelayers (Argus12/12/78) (Argus13/11/78)

Mr. John Woods, the Commissioner of Railways at that time, when he heard of the breakage of the line tolerably early in the day, exclaimed, "It is the Kellys;" (RC2283)

Previously he had arranged for a special watch to be kept on some steep parts of the line to Beechworth (RC1501)

There were no horse trucks at Benalla. They had to get two of those old luggage-vans. (RC5966)

On the day after the robbery the first normal train arrived at Euroa at 10.10am (RC546)

A secial train was arranged to take Col Anderson up to Benalla so he could meet Com Standish to arrange the use of the army to protect the banks (Argus16/12/78)

Details of the train used to transport the troops. (Argus16/12/78)

A special train was provided to take Com Sandish from Benalla to Melbourne (Argus31/1/79)

The special from Melbourne to Glenrowan

At about 3pm on 27/6/1880 Sup Hare SConst Kelly to see Mr Stevens, the Benalla station master, to get a special train ready to go up to Beechworth. (Argus29/6/1880) (TheAGE29/6/80) (Argus5/7/80) (RC1501) (RC8030) See also (FH)

Com Standish and Mr Ramsay went to see Mr Gillies about 5pm on 27/6/1880 to get permission for a special train to take Insp O'Connor and the Queensland trackers up to Beechworth following the news of Aaron Sherritt's death. The train eventually left Melbourne at 9.57 pm on 27/6/1880. I consisted of a locomotive, carriage and break van. On board were 4 journalists, George Allen from the Daily Telegraph, Thomas Carrington from the Australasian and the Sketcher, Joe Melvin from The Argus and John McWhirter from The Age. Insp O'Connor and the Queensland trackers caught the train at Essendon at 10.15pm. see also (Age29/6/1880) (RC16250)

A first class carriage was provided for the officers. (RC15881)

Delay because all the engines of the steam trains were cold (FH)

The crew of the tain from Melbourne were, drivers John Bowman and Richard Coleman, guard Bell, firemen H Hollows and Stewart .

After leaving Essendon the train travelled at a great speed, and before the passengers were aware of any accident having occurred, we had smashed through a gate about a mile beyond Craigieburn. The brake of the engine had, however, been torn away, the footbridge of the guard's van destroyed. Guard Bell was looking out of the van at the time, and had a very narrow escape. Benalla was reached at 1.30pm, and there Hare with eight troopers and their horses were taken on board.(Argus 29/6/1880)

At Craigieburn it ran through a gate, which carried away the brake of the engine, and necessitated a stoppage of about twenty minutes.(Argus29/6/1880) (FH)

Just before starting from Benalla, it occurred to the authorities that it would be advisable to send a pilot engine in advance. A start was made from Benalla at 2 o'clock, and at 25 minutes to 3, when we were travelling at a rapid pace, we were stopped by the pilot engine (Argus 29/6/1880) All lights were put out on the train from the time it started from Benalla (RC1614)

Guard on the pilot engine, McPhee, and Henry Alder was the driver. fireman Hugh Burch.

SConst Kelly, Consts Barry, Canny, Gascoigne, Arthur, and Phillips travelled in the guard's van from Benalla. Const Kirkham, travelled in the 1st c15-may-12 norPinsp.html">O'Connor, Mrs O'Connor, Miss Webb, Hero, Johnny, Jimmy, Jacky, (RC8037) Hare, , Carrington, Allen, McWhirter, Melvin, , , ? See McPhee's account as to what happened - lots of detail (McPhee)

When the train was stopped by Mr Curnow, Consts Barry, Gascoigne and Phillips went from this train to the pilot engine, which was perhaps a quarter of a mile ahead. The two trains were linked up.(RC7774.7357) But See (RC9674) (RC8047)

When Curnow stopped the train it was near Playford and De Soir's paddocks (FH)

After Sup Hare returned to the platform the second time after being shot the press organised for him to be taken to Benalla. The first train took off without him to get Sup Sadleir and the police from Benalla and Hare travelled on the second engine.(Argus5/7/80) (RC10036) (RC10314)

See guard Bell's statement. It contains some technical information. (Argus1/7/80)

Another special train

The train that took Sup Sadleir and his party from Benalla was driven by Mr Richard Colman (RC10977)

Sgt Steele's (he rode a horse) party took the train from Wangaratta to near where the track had been taken up (RC8998)

Another special train

News of the first encounter at Glenrowan was received in Melbourne another special train was authorised to leave at about 9am on 28/6/1880 to take Standish up to the battle. With all the excitement of Ned Kelly's capture and Joe Byrne's death the train left a bit later, about 10.15. It got to Benalla about 2 pm where it was again delayed. Standish went to see Sup Hare and the train finally left for Glenrowan about 4.15pm after news of the discovery of the bodies of Steve Hart and Dan Kelly had been received.(RC77)

A train at Glenrowan

The bodies of Steve Hart and Dan Kelly were laid on a stretcher, covered with a cloth, and placed in the train. Joe Byrne’s body was similarly treated, and then Ned Kelly was carried on a stretcher, and placed also in the same carriage. (Daily Telegraph29/6/1880) (RC8550)

Another special train

At about 10 am special train left Melbourne with Standish, Dr Ryan and about 5 extra police for Glenrowan. (FH)

Another special train

At twenty minutes past two a special train departed from Melbourne carrying the formidable looking weapon, a detachment of the Garrison Artillery under Lieutenant Nicholson. (FH)


Ned Kelly taken down to Benalla

Late on 28/6/1880 Ned Kelly and the body of Joe Byrne arrived by train from Glenrowan to be greated by a large crowd. The train also carried many of the police who had taken part in the siege. (DailyTelegraph29/6/1880)


Ned Kelly taken down to Melbourne

On 29/6/80 Sconts Walsh Coghlan and Consts Griffin, Bunker, Waldron were part of the guard on Ned Kelly when he came down to Melbourne on the train. Dr Ryan looked after Ned during the journey. Ned travelled in the guards van and he was taken off the train at the North Melbourne station at about 3pm . (Argus30/6/80)

1/8/1880 Ned Kelly taken back through his country to Beechworth

On 1/8/1880 Ned Kelly was taken under guard by train from Newmarket to Beechworth for his committal. Mr Labertouche organised the train. It consisted of an engine, saloon car and guards van. (Age2/8/1880) (Argus2/8/80)

Ned Kelly was guarded by Sgt Steele and Consts Bracken and Faulkiner and 3 other constables; Moore, Docharty,and Mathieson was also on the train. The police tried to get Ned Kelly to talk. He was guarded in his comments. (Argus2/8/80)

The first stop was at Seymour.

The train left Newmarket in Melbourne at 9.30am and arrived at Beechworth at about 4pm (Age2/8/1880)

12/8/1880 Ned Kelly taken back to Melbourne Gaol

A special train, under the charge of guards Bell and Baxter, took Ned Kelly from Wangaratta to Melbourne. He had been taken from Beechworth to Wangaratta by wagon. (Herald12/8/1880) (Age13/8/1880) (Argus13/8/80) (Herald13/8/1880) (OMA14/8/1880)

Usefulness of the railways - cause of the KellyGang outbreak?

The usefulness of the railways to transport almost everything is illustrated by the work of Alphonse Piazzi. He was the contractor who, with his men were camped in tents near the tracks in Glenrowan at the time of the siege.

What were they doing?

Piazza and his partner had a contract from the Benalla Council to metal the main street of Benalla. They got the stone from a quarry in Glenrowan and took it to the railway siding in horse drawn carts. They then transferred the stone into a rail waggon for the trip to Benalla where they unloaded it into other horse drawn carts for the trip to the main street of town.

This type of story was repeated for the transport of all kinds of products.

Like any change the arrival of the railway had an important social impact.

It has been estimated that there were more than 20,000 people involved in transporting goods from Melbourne to the miners in Beechworth before the arrival of the railway line. There where also many settlements along the way that had been located a days journey apart. To a large extent they relied on the teamsters with their bullock waggons and teams of horses for their existance.

A town like Greta suffered greatly when it was bypassed and it has been suggested that the raise of the KellyGang was a direct result of the loss of so many jobs.

The local lads went from having a good job, Greta once had a brick works and there had been lots of work building therailway, to no work. Produce for Beechworth could be loaded on the train in Melbourne and unloaded in Beechworth without having to be handled once on the journy.

Sup Hare complained that the gate keepers who operated the gates on the road crossings on the railway line as being in league with the KellyGang. They would be hard to find and slow in opening the gates for the police. He was also concerned that sympathisers reported back to the KellyGang when ever police moved by train. (FH)