Sunday, September 23, 2012

Three years of digging, finally I struck GOLD!

My research of the Muswellbrook to Merriwa branch started approximately three years ago now and I have in those few years come across many types of research material relating to the line. For me Photographic research is priority for building the layout. I am not all that interested in finding out who was the station master on Friday 5th June 1958 and what train ran through early that day and caught the station master having a pee in the gents! Photographic information is best to capture the accurate prototype of what was what. Most of the line has been well documented in many of the books etc including a fantastic article by Peter Attenborough in Byways of Steam. I have also managed to source material through the Australian Railway Historical Society. Once most of the major holes were filled I try and source items of interest to fill the gaps of what needs to be modelled. Some of these included the station building at Sandy Hollow, The coal loader (serviced by road vehicles) at Muswellbrook and the freezing works at Denman and many more. The railway historical society helped with the coal loader at Muswellbrook along with many other points of interest even some fellow bloggers including Ian Millard helped with the station building at Sandy Hollow along with some fantastic details of Merriwa yard.
The most frustrating to find anything of has been the old freezing works at Denman. There is just a single photo in Byways (number 10 page 72) that shows just the corner of the building and its quality is poor and would realy be of no use for modelling. I begun trying to find material through the Denman Historical Society, Muswellbrook Historical Society, ARHS, NSW state archives, Newcastle Regional Library and the NSW state library, without any luck.
I am always asking people I talk to about the line and if they have or know where I can get info from, one of these is one of our members here in Coffs Harbour, Jim Sowter. Jim comes from Denman and had mentioned a few people I should contact. One of which was a chap that collects farm machinery and general 'old stuff' and was thought to be a bit of a historian. As it turned out he had nothing but I was told to get onto a certain fellow who lives in the old mangers house of the freezing works. When I rang and asked about the freezing works I got the 'I remember the old freezing works' line from the old fella. Lucky I had an hour free! After 15 minutes or so he finally said that he may have some old plans of another Butter factory in Denman that may be of use. He also said that they were somewhere in is roof that was basically full of s#*t! I left it at that and thought that I would never here from him again. Lo and behold several weeks later he rang back, "I found some info on the freezing works for you". " I have eight colour slides of the freezing works, one of every angle around the building". WOW! I literally fell of the chair. GOLD!
He kindly agreed to send me the slides so I could scan them in. He also gave me permission to post them up here and show you all.
The freezing works he tells me opened in the 1930's and was used as a butter factory for many years. It was also used to process wild Rabbits caught by the locals through the great depression. It also produced Lucerne pellets in later years before it was abandoned some time in 1970. The rail siding to the freezing works was removed in 1980 to make way for rebuilding of the line for the Ulan coal project. It was originally thought that the building was of timber weatherboard but the photos tell a different story. Unfortunately a couple were taken out of focus. Note also the cream shed at the rear of the building. This will make a great model on the layout some day. I hope your blown away like I was.

Thanks Garry for the slides. Much appreciated.



  1. Ian

    What a magnificent set of photo's & more so the finding of them. One wonders how many other ceilings have treasures in them???

    I have been trying to find details of similar items, including the smaller rail served abatoirs that were also served by rail for the unloading of stock & not just the sending of meat, if I cannot find any, I will compromise with something like this.

    Wonderfull & thanks for sharing & your research work.

  2. Ian,
    As you said you struck Gold. What a great find and a great help to your research. Now onto the building of the layout! lol

  3. Everybody has a picture that someone else really needs.The problem is getting he 2 people to meet.

  4. Ian, when things come together like this it really is a WOW moment, persistence really does pay off don't you think? The photos are great, even the colour is pretty good for something that was photographed such a long time ago. So when are we planning a search party to go through this guys roof? I'm in!