A HISTORY OF THE FASSIFERN-TORONTO TRAMWAY AND RAILWAY

By K.A. McCarthy

The Fassifern to Toronto branch railway enters into the province of Newcastle tramway history as it operated during 1910 and 1911 with steam tramway rolling stock under the control of the New South Wales Government Tramways.

It was the writer's intention to limit this account to the New South Wales Government Tramways era, but as a considerable amount of new information was discovered during routine research on the private ownership of the tramway between 1891 to 1910, this account has been extended to include the pre-government steam tram operation.

The Economic Boom and Bust of the 1880s and 1890s
During the economic boom of the 1880s, private tramways and light railways were proposed for construction in various locations of NSW to assist in the development of business enterprises, mainly land subdivision sales.

Although many such enterprises were planned, only three tramways were completed and opened for public operation:

1. The private Parramatta to Redbank Wharf steam tramway of 1883-1943 does not quite fit this category as it was constructed and operated by a ferry company as an end-on extension of their Parramatta River ferry service which was truncated due to river siltation.

2. The tramway linking Rockdale Station with Lady Robinsons Beach I Brighton-le-Sands) on the western shore of Botany Bay and operated by Saywell's Tramway and Estates Ltd was a typical property development undertaking. It opened during 1885 with steam traction, was electrified in 1900 and was taken over by the Government Tramways during 1914. It continued to be a profitable undertaking to within a few years of its closure in 1949.

3. The third tramway, or light railway, constructed for land development purposes was the line linking Fassifern to Toronto on the western shore of Lake Macquarie. This undertaking did not prove to be as successful as the two abovementioned enterprises., The line opened in 1891 but had deteriorated from steam operation to horse working prior to the end of that decade. Finally, during March 1909, the private operators withdrew the service altogether.

The NSW Government Railways took over the line in 1910 and the NSW Government Tramways operated a steam tram service until May 1911, when full-scale railway operations commenced over the rebuilt right-of-way. The Fassifern to Toronto railway functioned as part.of the Web-castle suburban network until its closure in March 1990.

The Toronto Tramway Acts of 1889 and 1890
The Excelsior Land Investment and Building Company and Bank Limited (referred herein as the Excelsior Land Company) was authorised under the Toronto Tramways Act of 1889 to construct a line from Fassifern Station on the new Homebush (Sydney) to Waratah (Newcastle) railway to link the company's township of Toronto on Lake Macquarie.

The Bill proposed a 3ft gauge track but the Colonial Parliament amended this to a 4ft 8 and a half inch gauge line to permit through running of Government rolling stock. This could only be done by altering track curve radii as well as right-of-way widths and alignments.

The new surveys necessitated in the passing of the Toronto Tramway Amendment Act of 1890. Under this Act the railway branched from the Great Northern Railway at Fassifern through a junction facing Newcastle, but located I chain (20m) north of the station at 87 miles 524 chains from Sydney. The route terminated on the shores of Lake Macquarie in the 1000 acre Toronto Estate, 2 miles 48 and a half chains from Fassifern Junction.


Route and Operating Conditions Under the 1890 Act
The first 30 chains (600m) of the tramway traversed the Fassifern Station reservation, then cut through twelve private subdivision lots of the Northumberland Land & Coal Company for a distance of 6 chains (120m). At Teralba Road, on the northwest corner of Fennell Bay, the tramway entered the Excelsior Land. Company's Lorne township and crossed the alignment of Mellie Street. South of Narara Street, the route passed through a government estate followed by the Toronto Estate of the Excelsior Land Company to terminate at the lakeside station.

The width of the tramway right-of-way was 10ft on street formations and 33ft on private or Crown lands. The Company was responsible for any pavement between the tracks and 1 ft 6in beyond each side.

The existing owners retained the right to mine under land used by the tramway. The undertaking had to be operating within two years of the passing of the Act.

The line was divided into passenger fare sections one mile in length from each terminus defined by white-painted posts. The maximum fare was not to exceed 4d per section for the first two years after service inauguration and then would be reduced to 3d. Parcels from 60 lbs to 1 cwt (112 lbs) could be carried for 6d each. General goods would be transported at a maximum of 1/6d per ton mile and livestock at 6d per head mile, exclusive of loading, unloading and handling charges.


The tramway was obliged to provide a locomotive if transit guarantee was 50 tons in 12 working hours with at least 24 hours notice provided. The Railway Commissioners had the right to operate the' steam locomotives, carriages and trucks on the Toronto Tramway providing 12 hours notice was provided in writing. The Commissioners also had the right to erect signals at the junction at the Excelsior Land Company's expense, while 3 months notice in writing was required if the Railway Commissioners intended 10 purchase the undertaking.

Inspections Prior to Opening
On Monday 23 February 1891, Mr E Halligan, the NSWGR's District Engineer, accompanied by Mr Kitching, District Superintendent, inspected the new Railway. A large government locomotive ran on the tracks as far as the Toronto Hotel and a close inspection made of all curves, bridges and culverts showed all plant to be in good order.

The proposed operating routine required the Excelsior Land Co. to work the service with a locomotive and car on normal occasions but the government Railways would "run the journey" on holidays.

A technical account revealed that the rails used on the new tramway were 70lb plant, while 404000 cubic yards of earth were shifted to form the roadbed. Four bridges of 108ft, 136ft, 122ft and 106ft, were constructed along the route.

The locomotive used by Mr Halligan, the NSWGR district engineer on the tests of 23rd February had weighed 65 tons. Due to the highly satisfactory tests, the Railway Commissioner had agreed to run through trains from Newcastle on Sundays and holidays, while the Excelsior Land Company's trains were to meet regular NSWGR trains at Fassifern Station daily.

A suitable platform had been constructed at Fassifern while a siding capable of accommodating a train of up to 400ft in length had been laid at Toronto.


Opening of the Toronto Tramway
The Toronto Tramway was formally opened on Saturday 7 March1891. A special train departed from Newcastle at 8.15 am and ran through to Fassifern. The passengers were met by the Excelsior Land Company's train and the trip to Toronto occupied only six minutes. On reaching the Toronto Hotel, the visitors were taken for a cruise on Lake Macquarie in a "commodious and handsome steam launch".

In the meantime, the tram returned to Fassifern to meet the Sydney express and a large number of guests from the south. This party included Messrs Carv,Thornley, Renwick and Rofe, all Directors of the Excelsior Land Company, while local Members of Parliament Wheeler and Slattery also travelled on that train with Mr Fehon, Commissioner for Railways.

Mr Cary smashed a bottle of champagne on the wheel of the locomotive and declared the tramway opened for traffic.

Mr Samuel Fisher, Manager of the Toronto Hotel, prepared a splendid banquet for the 100 invited guests. In the presence of the Excelsior Land Company Manager K Jarrett and sub-manager B Cook, Railway Commissioner Fehon revealed that the Commissioners had required that the tramway gauge be widened from 3ft to 4ft 8 and a half inch and promised to "help the Directors in any way possible".


Following the toast "Success to the Toronto Railway", the majority of guests departed from Toronto at 4.40pm and arrived in Newcastle by 5.50pm. The Sydney visitors caught the 5.15 pm at Fassifern.

Mr B Cook, the sub -manager of the Excelsior Land Company, directed the working of the tramway on that opening day.

On Monday 9 March 1891, the Newcastle Morning Herald stated that the short Fassifern to Toronto tramway was a railway line which will allow for much greater traffic to be carried than at present. It was expected that this will be the first of several lines to be built to Lake Macquarie.

On the same day, the Newcastle Morning Herald published the following advertisement:

   " EXCURSIONS
    Excursions to Lake Macquarie Daily
    Book through to Toronto
    1st class - 4s return
    2nd class - 2/6d return
    Grand picnic grounds at Toronto
    By train direct daily"

Initial Rolling Stock
The Excelsior Land Company provided a new carriage for the service. In contemporary photographs, this appeared to be an end-loading platform vehicle with five compartments reached through side doors, carried on bogies.

The Newcastle Morning Herald of 9 March 1891 throws further light on the design of this vehicle. The car was 40ft long and divided into two first class and two second class compartments as well as two luggage compartments.

The luggage compartments were located at each end of the car reached by end platforms. The passenger accommodation is a little confusing. Photographs suggest that the car would apparently require five compartments each seating twelve passengers to provide accommodation for the sixty passengers mentioned in the report. The four compartments mentioned suggests that one section was laid out as a family saloon popular at that period. A clear photo of the car just prior to the turn of the century reveals a definite side bulge in the body as well as the provision of only two oil lamps for internal lighting .This would indicate the lack of a through strengthening cross bench in the centre of the car as a result of the inclusion of the small saloon.


This passenger car was designed by Mr J. Bennett and made at his Camperdown coach building plant. The vehicle was curried on spiral springs and constructed with American ash, and hickory, with cedar framing and Borneo cedar panels.

The seats were upholstered in Russian leather hide, while all fittings were nickel-plated. Photos suggest that wooden perimeter benches were fitted in the luggage compartments. On completion, this carriage was subjected to a thorough government inspection and "gave entire satisfaction".

This report also revealed that the Excelsior Land Company had purchased a Government steam locomotive for the Toronto traffic. The Newcastle Morning Herald stated that the engine had been used on the Camden Tramway .This unit weighed 17 and a half tons, carried a pair of cylinders 10 in diameter, 1.8 in stroke and was capable of attaining a speed of 35mph.

Details of the Tramway's motive power appear later in this account. However, none of the engines agree with these dimensions nor is it believed they operated on the Camden Tramway.

1890s Operations
During the early 1890s, the Toronto Tramway served its purpose, successfully opening up the district through land sales and providing easy access for picnic parties to the Lake Macquarie shore.

This notice is typical of direct special train operations of that period :

    "Saturday 12 February1898
    The Sydney Soap and Candle Company's picnic at Toronto will be conveyed by special train. (The Company was located at Port Waratah.

    Timetable A
    Newcastle depart 9.15am
    Honeysuckle depart. .. 9.2Oam
    Hamilton depart 9.26am
    Fassifern arrive 9.45am
    Cross tram
    Fassifern depart. 10.00am
    Toronto arrive 10.12am

    Timetable B
    Toronto depart 6. 10pm
    Fassifern depart 6.22pm.
    Hamilton depart 6.52pm
    Honeysuckle depart 6.57pm
    Newcastle arrive 7.00pm

    The special on timetable A will precede the 9.55am tram from Fassifern to Toronto and will carry the     tram ( Staff) Ticket. The special on Timetable B will carry the tram (Staff) Ticket. All other trams will carry the train staff. Guard McLean will run specials A and B and have charge of the Staff and Ticket arrangements at Toronto. He will give the Staff to Mr Hendry and then lock the Staff box and take the key to Newcastle.
    The consist of this special train equalled eight four-wheel second class cars and a brake van."

Other special traffic at that period included :-
26.2. 1898 Hetton Colliery Wheelers' picnic
12.3. 1898 Wickham &. Bullock Island Colliery surfacemen's picnic
4.4. 1898 Railway Traffic and Permanent Way branch picnic.

Timetable 1900
The timetable for trams on Fassifern to Toronto line in 1900 amounted to four trips Monday to Friday , an additional two on Saturdavs and two only on Sundays.
Local Newcastle trains ran their Up trips to Newcastle and Down trips away from Newcastle .
In the same timetable, the Newcastle to Sydney trip was classed as an Up journey and Sydney to Newcastle as a Down trip.

Toronto Hotel and Tramway Company
The large Toronto Hotel was completed in 1887 by the Excelsior Land Company, which then prepared a town plan to encourage settlement. During 1899, the Toronto Hotel property was purchased from the Excelsior Land Company by a syndicate comprising James Clark, Thomas Moore and a Mr Kitching.

Although conflicting material has been previously published on this matter, it seems that the Toronto Hotel and Tramway Company leased the tramway for a period of ten years, from April 1899. 

Tramway Operating Problems
By 1898, the local Toronto tramway service was operated by a primitive horse-hauled car on weekdays. A single goods wagon could be horse-hauled but this could not be coupled to the passenger car.

Difficulties were experienced in maintaining the two S 29 class locomotives at this stage. No. 29, purchased by the Excelsior Land Company during 1891, was sold to the Public Works Department in 1900, while locomotive 394 (ex 9N) hired in 1893 was returned to NSWGR also in 1900. These were replaced by two lighter engines, both from Thomas Saywell's Tramway and Estate Ltd.; the bogie-engine unit of self-contained combination steam tram "Coffee Pot" in 1899 and the tank locomotive "Pigmy" during 1900.

By 1900, the tramways operational procedures had soured with the local community. Complaints progressively emerged concerning lost connections with the NSWGR services at Fassifern poor railway maintenance, high freight costs and infrequent services.

During November 1900, the Secretary of the Toronto Progress Association, Mr A Reay complained that the residents of Toronto had been placed at a disadvantage for some time due to the heavy expense of carrying goods from Fassifern to Toronto. When forwarded on by the Government Railway, freight charges amounted to the usual NSWGR rate per ton plus five shillings per truck charged by the Tramway Company.

The Progress Association waited upon Mr J Clark, Secretary of the Toronto Hotel and Tramway Company, on 19th November 1900 about this matter. The charges for a truck of goods from Fassifern to Toronto was 11/3d while the additional eleven miles on to Newcastle by way of NSWGR line was only 6/3d.

Mr A Reay requested conveyance by government Railway goods trucks right through, but a footnote to the report stated that in a few days time the Company intended to send a truck to Toronto for use solely on the tramway.

The Toronto Hotel and Tramway Company was purchased by Capper and Sons, General Store owners of Maitland, and later by Walter Donnelly. This last-named owner became very active in promoting the Toronto district and in the growing movement to have the NSWGR take over the Fassifern to Toronto tramline.

During June 1905, the Tramway Company announced that cheaper fares between Fassifern and Toronto were planned for the 1905-6 summer period.


By 1906, the trains called at all platforms and street intersections along the line and the fares charged were:


From Bath Street, Toronto to:
Bowers Platform .. .. .. .. .. 2d.
Blackalls Platform .. .. .. .. 3d.
Fassifern . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4d.

Platforms were situated at Bowers, Fennells, Hoyles and Blackalls.

During January 1906, the Railway Commissioners visited the Newcastle district on the routine inspection tour. On Monday 22nd January the party accompanied by Tramway Superintendent Mr J. Kneeshaw Railway Chief Traffic Manager J Hooper, and Engineer in Chief, J Fraser was met by J Estell MP at Cockle Creek at 1.00pm. The construction of a one and a quarter mile branch railway from Cockle Creek station to Speers Point along the 100ft wide Lake Macquarie Park reservation was discussed. At this period as many as 8000 people visited the Speers Point picnic area at weekends and holidays.

The party had taken a launch earlier in the day from Speers to Toronto to inspect the Tramway Company's line to Fassifern. The Commissioner remarked that inducements had been offered to the Company to improve its service without results. By this stage the rolling stock on the Toronto line was in "poor shape", while delays on the tramway caused missed connections at Fassifern. The press report revealed that the lease of the Tramway Company, which controlled the tramway on behalf of the Excelsior Land Company, had only three years to run.

The deterioration of the line worsened when the steam engines failed to keep to the timetables, and sometimes just failed.  It was not uncommon for the male passengers to disembark on the hills to help push their transport up and over the terrain to Fassifern. This was not the only inconvenience. The open-box-type of carriage offered neither shelter from the searing sun above nor protection from the heavy soot and floating grease spots from the chugging "Coffee Pot" engine (Haslem, 1967). Such were the fortunes of the line that at times, it was necessary to suspend the tram service and substitute a horse drawn tram.

During January the locomotive on the Toronto tramway had been laid up for three weeks due to repairs.

The NSWGR stated during June 1907 that the requested extension of the 10.55pm train from Newcastle to Teralba onto Fassifern would depend on the tramway company providing a connecting tram to Toronto.

Pressure on Government to Take Over Tramway
Due to the deterioration of the tracks and bridges on the tramway, government train operations along the route were prohibited  from May 1908.

On 3 September 1908, the Minister of Works, Hon. Charles Lee, received deputations from Newcastle, Maitland, Toronto and Singleton. The Toronto deputation proposed the resumption of the Toronto tramway by the NSWGR. The Toronto party stated that the tramway had been built by a private company which received operational rights in 1889. The Toronto district was then in its infancy as a public resort.

The Company locomotive was not dependable and according to the deputation, broke down frequently, missing the connection with the NSWGR at Fassifern. The Government trains could operate to Toronto but this service had been discontinued as the NSWGR felt that the condition of the tramway was unsafe for its engines.

A petition of 3155 names was submitted requesting the Government to take over the line. This was supported by arguments that over the previous ten years some 300,000 people had visited Toronto from all over the state. During 1907, 28 events at Toronto had attracted 28,000 visitors, this included 18,790 on a single day! At that stage 800 people resided at Toronto.

Although the Tramway Company lease did not expire until 1909, Charles Lee called for a report on the matter from his officers.

For almost two years, the State government avoided reaching a decision on the future of the tramway. During the summer of 1908-9 the Tramway Company withdrew the service due to locomotive maintenance trouble and it seems that the closure became permanent by March 1909.


On 12 January 1909, local MP N Charlton discussed the Toronto tramway problems with the Minister for Works, Charles Lee and emphasized the need for the NSWGR to resume the route. Locomotive breakdowns had greatly inconvenienced the businessmen who were spending summer at Toronto and travelling to Newcastle each day. Charles Lee responded that a report on the matter had just been received from the chief Railway commissioner and he would announce his decision when the report was considered.

Two editorials appeared in the Newcastle Morning Herald soon after the above discussions. It seems that the government had not forced the Excelsior Land Company to run a single train on the Toronto tramway after the land was sold. In addition, the Act did not cover maintenance provisions for the line. The March 1909 editorial felt that the Minister for Works should have acted the line was closed, while the May editorial revealed that there was now no rail access to Toronto.

During the next twelve months, the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce, the Toronto Progress Association and the local Member of State Parliament increased pressure on the Government to take over the Toronto to Fassifern tramway.

During early May 1909, Mr T O'Neill, the President of the Newcastle Chamber of commerce, sent a letter to the Minister for Works stating that some weeks ago the Excelsior Land Company offered to hand over the Toronto tramway on terms to the Government. Mr O'Neill continued that the offer had not resulted in any Government action. The Toronto district was now isolated, the Lake Macquarie steamer service was infrequent and he requested an early reopening of the tramway under government control.

Soon after, Mr E King, Secretary of the Toronto Progress Association. Received details of the Toronto Tramway report through H Charlton MP. This had been compiled by Chief Railway Commissioner TN Johnson for the Minister for Works. The Commissioner was adverse to resumption by the NSWGR as the 2.75 mile line would require 11,000 to place it in a suitable operating condition. Annual expenditure was estimated at 1300, interest 500 per annum, and expected traffic receipts only 500. The original line had cost the Excelsior Land Company 10,000 and a thousand pounds was paid by the Government for the physical connection at Fassifern.

The Commissioner continued that the Excelsior Land Company had leased the land to the Toronto Tramway syndicate which had allowed the property to deteriorate. This syndicate ran ordinary trams on the line while NSWGR trains operated along the route for picnics and .goods traffic. The need for track and bridge repairs amounting to 350 resulted in the NSWGR service being withdrawn in May 1908 and this would not be restored as the syndicate's leaste would expire in ten months thus preventing action from that body.

The press report concluded with observations made by the Progress Association. Concern was expressed that repairs required to the line from May 1908 to May 1909 had escalated from 350 to 1100 or 4000 per mile of track. The estimated traffic receipts of 700 per year was possibly based on the figures for 1908 when the service only operated for part of the year. If the restoration costs aimed at returning the line to the 1897-98 condition, then traffic income for that period should also be considered. In that financial year, 42 picnics were held on Mr Donnelly's grounds while 8000 attended one function in 12 trains.
During his visit to Newcastle on 11 May 1909, Chief Railway Commissioner TB Johnson stated that he did not have power to take over the Toronto tramway. Only the State Government had such power and the Public Works Department was currently investigating the matter.
On Saturday 5 June 1900. a large public meeting was held at Toronto regarding the tramway's future. The meeting expressed the hope that the Excelsior Land Company would hand over the undertaking gratis to the Government and planned a deputation to discuss the matter of future ownership with the Excelsior Land Company. The fact emerged from the public meeting that 324 public picnic's had been held at Toronto between 1900 and1908.
Following the Minister for Works, Charles Lee statement in September 1909, that Cabinet had refused to take over the tramway. Mr H Charlton MP produced a large deputation to Mr Wade, the State Premier on 17 September. Premier Wade promised to have the matter placed before the Public Works committee as the Excelsior Land Company had agreed to give the line free to the NSWGR Further operational details emerged at this meeting. For the three months April to June 1908, income on the NSWGR main line for Toronto traffic amounted to 302.

For the same period in 1909 during the tramway shutdown, only 132 traffic receipts here generated at Fassifern. The Premier still did not favour government resumption of the line as an annual loss in excess of 1000 was still expected.

Traffic problems to Lake Macquarie came to a head during the summer of 1909-1910. On the Eight Hour Day-Labour Day holiday of 25 October 1909, 1000 people travelled to Cockle Creek station which was dangerously overcrowded due to the Toronto tramway being closed.

Decision Reached on Government Takeover
During April 1910, The Newcastle Horning Herald stated that although the Toronto tramway service had ceased more than a year before, no firm plans had emerged from the Government. The press observed that some work being carried out at that period near Fassifern station suggested that some action was soon expected.

On 26th April Mr Flynn. Secretary of the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce, received a telegram from O Gilbert MP advising that Cabinet had directed that the Railway Commissioners should resume and reconstruct the Toronto Tramway conditional to the Excelsior Land Company handing over the line.

When the service had ceased in March 1909, the Excelsior Land Company had offered the undertaking to the Government for 1000 and this sum had been included in the rebuilding estimates. Reconstruction plans allowed for extensive works at Fassifern and re-grading along the route. The curves had to be widened and extensive deviations constructed to bring the plant up to NSWGR main line standard. The work was estimated to cost 11,000.
In the meantime, a government steam tram service would commence between Fassifern and Toronto from Monday 29 August 1910, providing a regular operation while the line was upgraded to railway specifications.

Motive Power Used During Private Ownership
The use of four locomotives on the Toronto tramway between 1891 and 1909 has been documented and details of these engines are presented here. Although it is claimed that the steam motors were used on a number of occasions during emergency periods, these transfers are not supported by NSWGR and NSWGT records.

Manning Wardle No. 88 of 1864
This 0-6-0 saddle tank locomotive was named "Windsor"' and was used on the construction of the NSWGR line from Blacktown to Richmond as No. 15. Renumbered 29 of the S29 class in 1865. Hired to Thomas Saywell for has Rockdale to Lady Robinson Beach tramway during 1885 and 1886.

Sold for 725 to the Excelsior Land Company for the Toronto tramway on 9 January 1891 . Sold during October 1900 to the Public Works department and renumbered 18. Scrapped in 1929.

Manning Wardle No. 32 of 1861
An 0-6-0 saddle tank locomotive named "Pioneer" and used on NSW railway construction projects.
Transferred to the NSWGR's isolated Newcastle - Hunter Valley railway in June 1864 as No.9N Renumbered 394 during 1889.
Hired to the Excelsior Land Company for the Toronto tramway in1893 and returned to NSWGR during March 1900. Worked as Public Works Department No. 15 from1915 to 1917. Returned to the NSWGR and renumbered 1001. Scrapped in July 1929.

Hudswell CIarke No.296 of 1887
This 0-6-0 side tank locomotive was built for Saywell's Tramways and Estates Ltd. for the Rockdale to Lady Robinson's Beach tramway. It carried the name "Pigmy".

Sold to the Toronto tramway in October 1900. It is possible that this engine was used by contractors on construction work of the Plattsburg to West Wallsend tramway in January 1910. There are two accounts of its disposal. It was sold to A Goninan and Co. at Newcastle in either 1905 or September 1910. Sold to the Wickham and Bullock Island Coal Mining Company circa 1916 and converted to a petrol powered locomotive, powered by a Leyland engine. Used on the construction of the Kalingo Colliery railway in the Cessnock district, then shunted the Cessnock No.2 Colliery siding beyond Cessnock station. Then went to Neath Colliery in 1932 and stored.

Hudson Bros (Clyde) No. ? of 1887
This 0-4-0 vertical boilered engine was the power bogie unit from the self-contained eight-wheeled tramcar used by Saywell's Tramcar and Estates Ltd. on the Rockdale to Lady Robinson's Beach tramway.

This tramcar was designed by the NSWGR's Assistant Locomotive Engineer, George Downe who had introduced six double-deck, self-contained steam cars with Baldwin USA power units during 1883-84 on the Sydney Tramways. The large passenger bodies, which seated 80 passengers, were built by J G Brill (one body) and Thomas Wearne at his works in the Sydney suburb of Glebe.
The single-deck Rockdale car performed its official public trials on Friday 6th May 1887, after operating for one week in normal service. The trial was attended by members of Parliament, representatives of the builders, and NSWGR and NSWGT officials. This self-contained car only weighed 8.5 tons but could seat 60 passengers. "Owing to spring arrangements it runs at great ease and smoothness and, at a high rate of speed."

The engine was of the triple expansion type having four cylinders, two over each crank in tandem form. Steam was generated in a vertical boiler 3ft in diameter and 5ft high with tubes 2ft 2in. in length supplying steam at 200 psi. The high pressure cylinder 5 inch diameter, the intermediate pressure cylinder 6.5 inch diameter and the low pressure finally entered two cylinders each of 7.5inch diameter. The 5in and 7.5 inch pair were situated over one crank and the 6.5 and 7.5 inch pair over the other crank.

Steam entered the high pressure 5in cylinder at 200 psi and was finally exhausted from the low 7.5 inch pair at 22psi. The cast iron brackets on which the cylinders were mounted, contained slots enabling the engine unit to move up and down with the sprung cranked driving axle. Side cranks coupled the front and rear axles on the power bogie while moving parts were protected from mud and dirt damage.

The reporter observed that the separate steam motor (engine unit), and trailer system used on the Sydney tramways , 10 tons deadweight was required to hall a 1 ton load of passenger. This new combined car was capable of carrying a 4 ton load of passengers at a ratio of 2.5 to 1.

The engine unit of this car was sold to the Toronto tramway during March 1899 and received a wooden body to enclose the boiler and engine unit. From that period the locomotive received the name "Coffee Pot".

Thomas Saywell converted his Rockdale tramway to electric operation during 1910, the successful trials taking place on 27 July. This conversion permitted the gradual disposal of his steam engines.

Thomas Howley purchased "Coffee Pot" during 1910 to haul hopper wagons between his Glenrock Lagoon colliery and The Junction (near Glebe) on the Merewether Estate rail line. Due to the restricted tunnel clearances south of' Merewether Beach, the wooden body had to be tapered inwards above waist level. The arrival of former Rockdale tramway 0-6-0T Locomotive "Saywell" (Hudswell Clarke No.290 of 1886) at Glenrock Lagoon circa 1925 enabled "Coffee Pot "to be withdrawn from regular service. "Saywell " had worked on industrial and colliery sidings in the Newcastle district. from around 1899.

"Coffee Pot" gradually lost its wooden body and was cut up for scrap in 1949 at the Junction locomotive shed where it had stood abandoned for many years. In Later years, "Coffee Pot" operated as a two cylinder simple expansion locomotive with the two top tandem cylinders removed from the engine unit


Government Steam Tram Operation
On Sunday 21 August 1910, steam tram motor 61A, fitted with railway contour wheels, with C1 type 60-seat steam tram trailer No. 609 arrived at Fassifern under steam from Sydney to launch the government service on the Toronto tramway.
Car 609 was an enclosed cross-bench type built by Hudson Bros in 1886 when the car was attached to the Enfield Tramway.
For the week prior to reopening of the tramway, motor 61A hauled railway ballast trucks on initial track maintenance using a coupling dummy match truck delivered on 19th October 1910. This was one of two such trucks (62s and 63s) constructed for the new Sutherland to Cronulla tramway

Additional Rolling Stock
Tram motor- 64A followed from Sydney to Toronto on Sunday 4th September 1919. It departed from Botany Road Siding at. 3.00 am and arrived at Toronto at 1.30pm. During the tramway period, railway locomotives were not permitted to operate on the line. 64A was provided to work the ballast cars , while 61A and car 609 operated the timetabled passenger runs at a maximum speed of 12 miles per hour. The tramway traffic was under the control of the Station Master at Fassifern and the trams were stabled at Toronto station.

Contact could be made between Fassifern and Toronto stations on the No. 8 railway phone circuit. The contact codes sere:-
Fassifern----- short, long, short, short.
Toronto------short, long, short, long.

To strengthen the service Morpeth car No.1 was transferred to Toronto on Sunday 2nd September 1910. This was a 70-seat. C2 type enclosed crossbench trailer, built in 1893 at Randwick Workshops as No.196. The East. Maitland to Morpeth branch railway was worked by tramway rolling stock on weekday's from I August. 1893 until 28th July 1913. Car 196 opened this service as Morpeth No. 1. On transfer to Toronto , instructions were issued that this car should not be confused with trailer No. 1B attached to the Newcastle system at that time. With the reintroduction of a full railway service at Morpeth in 1913, Morpeth trailer No. 1 was transferred to the Maitland Street tramway as No. 9B.

As the summer season approached and the Toronto line picnic traffic expanded, were issued that from19th August 1910, one of the spare Morpeth steam motors should also be used at Toronto on Sundays. At this stage motors 39A and 59A worked the Morpeth branch on weekdays.

On 7 September 1910, the need for a third trailer was apparent . This resulted in C2 type trailer Morpeth No. 2 being transferred to Toronto. Two American-style end-loading suburban railway carriages were then attached to the Morpeth branch line and these were hauled in traffic by the steam motors coupled by a matched truck.
Morpeth trailer No. 2 had been constructed at Randwick Workshops in 1894 as car No . I97. . It operated in Sydney as an accumulator car with two 25hp motors powered by Plante batteries . These trials were conducted until October 1895, when the electrical equipment was removed and the car transferred to Morpeth . The side flaps which permitted trays of batteries to be placed under the cross-seats and the curved front aprons and roof ends distinguished this tramcar from other steam tram trailers of the CU2 type. In 1913, this vehicle was also transferred to the Maitland street system as No. 2B.

During October 1910 Toronto tram crews were reminded that trams stopped at Hoyles and Blackalls platforms when required. In order to handle the expected heavy excursion traffic on the Eight Hour Day-Labour Day holiday weekend, a special timetable was introduced for that period..

By March 1911 , the Sutherland to Cronulla tramwav south of Sydney had reached a stage in construction where final details of services had to be formulated. The two motors on loan to the Toronto line were not at that stage expected to be available for transfer for a further eight weeks


Introduction of a Regular Government Train Service.
Conventional train operation by the NSWGR was introduced to Toronto on Sunday 28 May 1911. The track had been improved to main line standards and locomotives of any class were approved as single or for double-headed use on the line.

On 28 May 1911. steam tram motors 61A and 64A were transferred back to Sydney to permit the opening of the Sutherland tramway. This line to Cronulla was available for traffic from 12 June 1911 and, after exchanges of' motors with railway contour wheels, 64A entered service at Sutherland and 61A at Sans Souci.

Car 609 returned to street tramway service on the Newcastle system retaining its high railway number. It was finally withdrawn from operation in October 1921 as electrification of the Newcastle lines progressed. Morpeth cars 1 and 2 returned to East Maitland . This transfer may have occurred prior to May 1911 as the peak summer traffic demands diminished.

The introduction full time NSWGR trains to Toronto was celebrated on Saturday, afternoon 17th June 1911, with a banquet held at W Donnelly's Toronto Hotel. Mr T O'Neill presided at the function "attended by 30 gentlemen". Mr T Miller, the Railway Chief Clerk at Newcastle and Mr P Hunt, the Railway Estate Agent, were also present
Mr Dixon, Chairman of the Excelsior Land Company, drew visitors' attention to the fact that his Company had spent a considerable amount of money at Toronto before very much settlement existed. A total of 15,000 had been spent on the tramway. Mr S Cary, a company director, said that by giving over the railway they would benefit in the future. They were the "benefactors of the north". Mr Donnelly said that the hard times of the last two or three years caused the closure of the private tramway had been overcome. The Newcastle Chamber of Commerce helped bring about the construction of the (government) railway service. During that afternoon the visitors travelled around the lake by launch.

New Toronto Station
Although heavy passenger traffic was handled on the private tramway prior to the withdrawal of government through trains in May 1908, the Toronto platform facilities were inadequate. With the construction of a new station in 1911, the press reported that entry and exit to trains at Toronto was "now more regimented". Passengers had to now enter the trains from the platform and not from the tracks. More convenient access was still required between the station and the lake shore...an overhead footbridge was needed at this location.

Notes
Thomas Saywell (1837-1928) was involved in many commercial entreprenurial, industrial and real estate real estate projects in addition to his Rockdale tramway and Lady Robinsons Beach developments. These included South Coast and Southern Highlands collieries in NSW. It has been often suggested that Thomas Saywell was actively involved in the Excelsior Land Company's real estate ventures and tramway operation at Toronto. Although this is possible, press details of Excelsior Land Company activities and directors of the 1890 to 1911 period do not mention Saywell. References of a link with the Toronto projects did not appear in the lengthy obituary on his death.

In the period between the end of the tramline and the Government's construction of the new line, a double decker bus ran from Toronto to Teralba, where people could catch a train. The ride was not exactly a pleasant one although it was much preferred to walking (Haslem 1967)!


The steam locomotives were withdrawn and replaced by a two-car diesel set in the late 1970's when the loop and the goods sidings south of the Toronto station were removed and the area transformed into a foreshore park. The regular through service operated as such until electrification of the main line between Gosford and Newcastle was completed in the 1980's. The Fassifern to Toronto branch railway was not electrified when the Wyong to Newcastle section of the main northern line opened on 3 June 1984. As the Toronto branch line as a whole was not electrified, the regular service ceased and the line was again reduced to a shuttle service. Note that the Toronto to Fassifern rail line was partially electrified to accommodate a small section of the station as a holding yard. It was said at the time that the decision NOT to electrify the Toronto line as part of the Gosford to Newcastle electrification project marked the deathblow of the line.

Diesel rail cars operated the service until closure on 30 March 1990 when it was replaced by a bus service identified as "the train".

The NSW Department of Transport advertised during March 1992 for "Expressions of Interest" from groups or individuals interested in making some use of the Fassifern to Toronto branch line.

Last updated 3 October 2003