Axedale Racecourse

Located at 88M 62C 08L

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Axedale Racecourse Platform was not part of the original line construction. However, it was mentioned as required some 16 months before the line opened, and was officialy requested of the Commissioners one month after the opening. This was because the site of the main Axedale station was considerd to be too far out of the town. The construction of the line, as it opened, resulted in a heavy cutting at the summit of the ridge which became the site of the Racecourse platform.

The construction of the Axedale Racecourse Platform is approved in April 1889, and it is completed by the end of the same year. Its construction was not put to tender and was carried out under 'the superintendence of a railway Officer.' The platform is located at 88 miles, 62 chains, 8 links from Melbourne, a few hundred metres east of the Cemetery Road, Axedale crossing. and at 569ft above Low Water Mark. It was equipped with a crossing/runaround loop which was removed prior to 1948.

In September 1889, the Australian Natives Association plan what they call a monster picnic at Axedale on Boxing Day as the racecourse platform is expected to be ready by then. Boxing Day picnics were common at Axedale.

An extract from an article in the September 27 Bendigo Advertiser: "The programme will include horse racing and jumping as well as the usual athletic sports. It was also decided to hold a monster art union.”

An October 1889 Advertiser displays: “First Prize, magnificient Abbott Buggy, Horse and Harness complete, value 95 pounds and a gift of the Sandhurst Rolling Stock Company. Second Prize, Suite of Furniture, value 15 pounds 15 shillings. Third Prize, Duchesse Table, Fourth Prize, Clock with Shade, plus numerous other prizes.

The Racecourse Platform is completed by Boxing Day. No tenders were offered and construction was carried out under 'the superintendence of a railway Officer.' The platform is located at 88 miles, 62 chains, 8 links from Melbourne, a few hundred metres east of the Cemetery Road, Axedale crossing, and at 569ft above Low Water Mark. It was later equipped with a runaround loop which was removed prior to 1948.

A successful picnic is reported in the December 27, 1889, Bendigo Advertiser: Although the attendance was possibly not equal to the previous year, it is estimated that there were between 5,000 and 6,000 persons attending. Twelve trains were run from Sandhurst and one each from Eaglehawk and Heathcote. A splendid running track had been prepared for the pedestrians, and the various sideshows which included a variety troupe, a boxing tent, the armless boy, swing boats, a merry-go-round, etc., were all placed in a line. A marquee was provided for the fair sex. Numbers of the excursionists were seen along the river, trying their luck with rod and line. Kiss in the ring, rounders, two's and three's, and other outdoor amusements were indulged in.

The Argus, July 25, 1893, in reporting the libel court case of Richard Speight v. David Syme, reports evidence provided by Richard Fox Pollard, ex District Superintendent. He stated that the "Axedale Racecourse Station was put up to suit the Australian Natives' Association, which held its annual picnic there. It was quite unnecessary. The work could quite easily be done at Axe Creek (sic) which was in sight." The reference to Axe Creek is obviously the nearby Axedale Station which was only slightly more than 1km away.

The Up direction Home signal was located near the Hargreaves Creek Bridge. In 1898, both the Up and Down Home signals were fitted with black wooden crosses to indicate that they were ordinarily out of use as the platform was generally only used for special trains related to special events.

axedale_rc/axedale_rc_1910.jpg

Axedale Racecourse Platform, 1910.

A Commissioners' Minute Book entry of 25/05/1910, File 10/5158, shows a recommendation of the Acting Civil Engineer, Way & Works Branch, to remove the loop siding. The estimated cost of removal is £9, wth the value of material being £53. The value of the materials released less cost of removal to be credited to the Railway Loans Repayment Fund. Minutes of 25/05/10. Pg 596. File No. 10/5158.

The diagram shown here, is dated 1910 and there are a few interesting endorsements on it. The first is the indication that the loop, or run-around track, is proposed to be taken up. The actual date of removal is not known but there is another endorsement that it was "taken up long ago - 28/10/1926." The position of the writer's initials indicates that the endorsement was made in 1926 and the loop was taken up long before that date.

There are other endorsements relating to platform length reduction by 195 feet, 13/9/40, with another stating reduced to 250 feet, 13/9/40.

Finally the approximate position of the platform exit wicket gates (2 x 12'6") in the boundary fence, is shown at the bottom left of the diagram.

The working of trains was facilitated in 1915 by instruction that the Racecourse Platform may be opened as a Staff (Safeworking) station using the Divided Electric Staff for the Axedale-Knowsley track section. Owing to declining use, this facility was removed in 1931 when the supervising station, Axedale, was reduced to No-one-in-Charge.

axedale_rc/axedale_rc_&_axedale_rf940_14sep1948_supersedes_f386.jpg

Axedale Racecourse Platform, 1940.

This diagram is a combination of Axedale Racecourse and Axedale Station - 14/9/1948. Strangely, some dimensions are missing but the location of the Racecourse Up Home signal can be placed near the Hargreaves Creek bridge. Note the mention of Kimbolton Road. It is actually the Cemetery Road/Burns Street/Crowes Road crossing.

The platform, along with the section of the line between Rangelea and Heathcote, was closed to all traffic in December 1958.

A small replica platform was constructed on the site in 2013 as part of the O'Keefe Rail Trail infrastructure. Riders have a choice of riding via this platform or bypassing it. Coloured posts indicate the location of the ends of the original platform.

The size of the cutting in which the platform exists, really shows up when viewed from the top of the bank and looking down.


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