The NSW Railways Remember website honours the contribution of the NSW Railways both at home and abroad during the First World War. The site was developed during the Centenary of ANZAC (2014-2018), marking 100 years since Australia’s involvement in the First World War. It contains stories on the NSW Railways efforts during World War 1, information on the commemorative art project undertaken with the community in 2015 and the ability to search names on the Central Station Honour Boards listing the 1,214 railwaymen who lost their lives through service to their country.
Remembering World War I and the service of the NSW Railways
The outbreak of war in 1914 had a dramatic impact on Australia with large numbers of men rushing to enlist to serve their country. At the time, the NSW Railways and Tramways Department was the largest enterprise in the state, with 45,000 employees. Over the course of the war, 8,447 men from the department enlisted and by the end of the war 1,214 of these men had died in service.
Some NSW railwaymen were recruited specifically to assist with operating railway lines for the Allied war effort in Europe but most served amongst other soldiers fighting on the frontline.
In an era when road transportation and aviation were still in their infancy, the nature and scale of World War I suited the use of railways like no war before or since. Joseph Joffre, Commander-in-Chief of the French Army during the war declared: ‘This is a railway war… if we win this war it will be largely due to the railways.’
This online exhibition tells the important story of the various ways in which the NSW railways contributed to and supported the war at home and abroad.
CENTRAL STATION HONOUR BOARDS
As early as 1915, plans were underway to immortalise the names of those NSW railwaymen who had fallen in service during the First World War. In March 1916, the first of the honour boards, designed and built by the Car and Wagon workshops at Eveleigh, was unveiled at Central before an assembly that included the Chief Commissioner, the Assistant Commissioners, the Chief Mechanical Engineer and Engineer-in-Chief.
The original board was a single-doored cabinet manufactured from blackwood with hand-painted decorated glass bordering a list of names printed on paper.
It was joined by three other boards as the war continued and more men lost their lives, and was finally finished with four smaller cabinets manufactured to fit seamlessly below the originals to look like a single unit.
The centre two boards seem to have been removed at some point in the 1950s to allow the installation of a vending machine and the outer two boards had been removed by the time the booking office was refurbished in 1960.
acknowledgementsTransport Heritage NSW and Sydney Trains acknowledge the
contributions of the following individuals and organisations:
- Australian Railway Historical Society (NSW Division)
- Art and Archival
- Bill Phippen
- Dugald Black
- Geoff Lillico
- James Dalton
- Lily Sommer
- OCP Architects
- Peter Marshall
- Richard Mathews
- NSW Centenary of Anzac Program Management Office
- Australian War Memorial
- Australian National Maritime Museum
- Australian National University
- State Records NSW
- State Library of South Australia
- State Library of NSW
- City of Canterbury Local History Library
- City of Newcastle Library
- Hurstville City Library, Museum and Gallery
- Trevor Edmonds
- Geoff Hinchcliffe
- Mohammed Chami
- Jillian Bartlett
- Juliet Suich