Heathcote 1561 Detail

Located at 73M 32C 32L

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The less than fifty years since the closure of Heathcote Station in 1968 have done a remarkable job of erasing visible evidence of its existence. There is very little to see today.

The station was located at 73 miles, 32 chains, 32 links (approx. 117.45 rail kilometres) from Melbourne. It was originally the terminus for the Sandhurst-Heathcote section of the line when it opened. Like all stations on the line, it was opened for light goods not requiring crane power or shed accommodation. Within one year of opening, sheep and cattle yards are ordered for the station.

The opening of the line as far as Heathcote in October, 1888, was followed with work continuing as far as Tooborac, with ultimate connection to Kilmore to make the line continuous and connecting the Sandhurst (Bendigo) and North-East railway lines. Tooborac became the terminus in November, 1889, with two trains, each way, each day.

During a Railway Commissioners' visit to Heathcote in October, 1889, Mr. Speight, Chairman of Commissioners, is asked for more substantial station buildings after having the absence of shelter from the sun and inclement weather pointed out to him. He responded that it was not possible to carry out all the improvements on the various lines at once.

Heathcote was provided with an Annett key on 26/03/1925 to lock the down end of the livestock siding to the main line. The Victorian Railways Weekly Notice 13/1925 advises: HEATHCOTE Alterations to Signalling arrangements, in connection with linking down end of stock race siding to Main Line. On 25th inst. the points in Main Line leading to the down end of the Stock Race Siding were rodded to Safety points in the siding and secured by Annett Lock with duplicate Annett Locks on both Signal quadrants for up Home Signal and on quadrant at the platform for down Home Signal. Add “Heathcote” to list on page 132 of General Appendix.

Another Annett locked Siding was provided as shown in Weekly Notice 5/1926: HEATHCOTE Provision of turntable for Rail Motor at Down end of Station. A turntable for Rail Motors has been provided at the down end of Heathcote with Points leading to Turntable Road, facing in down direction. A Down Home (Departure) Signal to protect the points has also been provided. The points in the Main Line are rodded to a catch blade in the Turntable Road with duplicate Annett locks on the quadrants at the platform which operate the up Home and Down Departure Signals. Amend page 293 Book of Signals to read “Heathcote, 3 Home (1 Up and 2 Down) and add “Heathcote (Turntable Road) Annett” to list on page 132, General Appendix.

The Safeworking system on the line from Heathcote Junction was originally Train Staff & Ticket, but was replaced by Electric Staff on 13/08/1906, and on 15/04/1912, the following Weekly Notice entry appeared: Heathcote, Knowsley and Axedale. The Up & Down facing points in the Main line at Heathcote, Knowsley and Axedale have been Plunger Locked. Information supplied by Tony Palermo.

Peter Larkins advises, "My father Michael Larkins was the S.M at Heathcote during the early 1950's. I can remember the local goods train going through to Bendigo. Normally it was a D3 class loco. Also during the Korean War, troop trains would stop at Heathcote and the traveling troops were fed after the meal being cooked in the rail yards. Timber was the main goods shipped by rail."

Weekly Notice entries for Heathcote Water Tanks:

Until I locate evidence to the contrary, it is assumed that the water tanks were not those at the Up end of Heathcote Station as they were within station grounds, and would have been protected by the station signals. They were possibly closer to the reservoir further south and closer to South Heathcote.

February, 1897The tanks are to be used only in emergency.

July, 1898There are no fixed signals.

Weekly Notice entries for Heathcote:

August, 1906 - Electric Staff Safeworking replaces the Train Staff and Ticket system in the Tooborac - Heathcote section.

April, 1912 - Plunger Locking is provided to the main running line points.

October, 1912 - The track gang tricycle is withdrawn and transferred to Mornington Junction.

May, 1915 - Electric Staff Safeworking replaces the Train Staff and Ticket system in the Heathcote - Knowsley section.

October, 1916 - The station is closed for private telegraph business.

March, 1925 - The Up Home Signal is moved 130 yards further out.

March, 1925 - The Down end of the livestock siding is connected to main line and secured by Annett Lock. There are duplicates on quadrant levers. The use of the Annett Key locks the signal at Proceed whenever the key is removed. The key can only be removed from the points whenever they lay in a particular position.

February, 1926 - A Rail Motor turntable is provided at the Down end. The Turntable Road, facing Down trains, is secured by Annett lock. A Down departure Home Signal is also provided.

December, 1927 - A Composite Staff is provided in the Knowsley Electric Staff section a/c Derrinal.

October, 1930 - A Rail Motor service with first and second class accommodation is provided between Wallan and Bendigo.

August, 1931 - A Composite Staff is provided in the North Bendigo Junction Electric Staff section a/c Knowsley or Axedale. Time Interval Working is used between Heathcote and North Bendigo Junction.

November, 1937 - A Rail Motor service with second class accommodation only is instituted between Wallan and Bendigo.

December, 1941 - The passenger and mixed train service is withdrawn from the Wallan - Bendigo Line.

March, 1942 - The passenger train service is reinstated between Wallan and Heathcote.

May, 1956 - The telegraph instrument is removed.

December, 1958 - The line is closed between Heathcote and Rangelea.

May, 1959 - A timber baulk is fixed to the running line at 73M 69C. This is near the Mitchell Street Gatehouse.

August, 1961 - The Electric Staff Safeworking is abolished between Tooborac and Heathcote. The Safeworking system is now Train Staff and Ticket between Kilmore and Heathcote.

August, 1961 - The Train Controller Spencer Street may authorise the issue of Line Clear Reports between Kilmore and Heathcote.

February, 1962 - The Electric Staff Safeworking is abolished between Heathcote and North Bendigo Junction.

March, 1965 - The Down departure Home Signal and Annett Locked points to the livestock siding are removed.

June, 1965 - The Stationmaster is removed and the station is downgraded to Caretaker. The passenger service is withdrawn, and the train Guard is responsible for signalling.

September, 1965 - The Down Home Signal and Plunger Locking at the Up end are abolished. A Hand Locking Bar and padlock are provided.

March, 1966 - The baulk at 73M 69C is moved to 73M 50C (up side of Kyneton Road).

November, 1968 - Heathcote is finally closed to all traffic.

Identified Stationmasters:

Charles David Hall - 1890.
Henry James Tilton - 23/09/1896.
Robert Fisher - 09/02/1900.
Alfred Ernest Melbourne Cooper - 21/05/1902
William Henry Johnston - 01/01/1905.
Henry Herbert Perry - 23/03/1908.
Christopher Benussi - 20/08/1918
Michael Matthew Mahady - 01/10/1910.
David Pearson Gillespie - 24/03/1920.
Alexander James Holder - 18/08/1920.
Royce William Hosking - 09/10/1922.
Arthur Edward Brown - 26/03/1924
Thomas Gardiner Nicholls - 03/04/1936.
Harold Joseph Bedson - 07/06/1940, 26/06/1940, 10/07/1940.
David Patrick Burns - 15/10/1946.
Harry Hewson Wakefield - 09/04/1948.
Thomas William Tovey - 28/04/1949.
Reginald Coghlan - 20/06/1950.
Michael Edward Larkins - 16/07/1952.
Richard D. Wightman - 06/09/1955.
George Edgar Scammel - 21/10/1958.
Tom Rigg - 15/12/1960.
Francis K. Clark - 01/01/1961.
Harry P. Clark - 07/03/1962.
John R. McQuillan - 11/05/1964.
Closed 28/06/1965.

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