The McIvor Timber and Firewood Company Siding commenced life as Hedges' Siding in 1906 - after William Hedges, a shareholder in the company. It was generally referred to as the McIvor Timber Siding, an operation which lasted a little over 20 years. It was located at 63 miles, 52 chains, 32 links [approx. 101.85 rail kilometres] from Melbourne. The siding may have grown out of the existence of an early sawmill at that location.
A view of the Company's loco shed from Major's Line Road, along the rail bed that led to the road and out into the forest. Kevin Crockett, 2015.
A private railway, it ran into the Moormbool Forest using road reserves where possible. Victorian Railways locomotives were permitted restricted distance access into the siding for the purpose of picking up trucks loaded with wood brought in from landowners' properties and the forest. The operation came to an end about 1927 after an unsuccessful attempt to sell it to the Victorian Railways.
The siding location exists on private property today.
This image shows the McIvor Timber and Firewood Company's 5'3" gauge, 2-6-0 Mogul 'Major' (Baldwin, 1889) being overhauled in Thompson's Foundry, Castlemaine, in 1914. The locomotive was imported new by Arthur T. Robb for the construction of Victoria Dock and was purchased with its twin 'McIvor' for the McIvor Company in 1906 and remained in service until 1925.
Frank Stamford's book, "The McIvor Timber & Firewood Company, Tooborac, Victoria" published 2014 by Light Railway Research Society of Australia Inc, Melbourne, provides a very detailed account of the Company's operation and it is recommended reading for anyone requiring that level of detail. I had commenced collecting information about the Company in the early days of this Collection but abandoned it as there was no need to re-invent the wheel. For my purposes, there is only a need to include some general information from the book.
Readers must realise that, early in the 1900s, the vast majority of land east of the line was timbered. Timber was in great demand for heating and building and the surrounding countryside and the capital city had a voracious appetite for it. The McIvor Timber Company's operation not only provided timber for many years, it helped clear the countryside for agricultural use.
The location of the bridge remains is not known at this stage.
The address on the corrugated iron sheet which forms part of the company's workshop wall has become visible due to the fading of the covering paint. The address indicates that the sheet was freighted by rail from some unidentified despatching location to Tooborac Railway Station - Code TBC.
Company details. That which can be seen today does not even hint at the size of the operation that once existed on the site. In its heyday, the site boasted a combined 6-roomed house and office building, a blacksmith's shop, a 21 ton railway weighbridge, stables, coal stage, and a 90' x 26' locomotive shed, and three sawmills with elevated platforms for loading small sawn blocks into wagons beneath. Two locomotives were generally used with one working their main (forest) line and the other working sidings deep in the forest.
Track layout at the Siding consisted of a mixture of narrow gauge and broad gauge tracks.
The main revenue earner for the Company was the cutting and milling of firewood for the industrial and domestic markets of Bendigo and Melbourne. There were many sub-contracted mills spread through the forest as well as a number of Company mills. The firewood was carried in 7' lengths to the Company siding in their own four-wheel wagons which had end stanchions but no sides. Other important traffic was 5' and 7' timbers for the Bendigo mines, sleepers for the Victorian Railways and telegraph poles on behalf of the State Forests department. In the 1920s, charcoal traffic emerged..
Outwards tonnage slowly diminished over the years from a maximum of almost 60,000 tons in 1908, around 25,000 tons in 1913, and around 10,000 tons in 1926 when the Company reached the point of non-viability. Some of the timber traffic at the north end of the forest was being 'syphoned off' by traffic carried on the Rushworth-Colbinabbin railway. In 1926, after the end of the Company's 15 year agreement with the MicIvor Shire, which was not renewed, local woodcutters, on becoming aware that the operation was about to close, campaigned for the Victorian Railways to purchase the operation. They were not successful and, like many railway-related operations, it passed into history.
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