9 February 2024

Goulburn’s centenary reports uncover tramway origin

| John Thistleton
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town celebrating official opening of tramway

Goulburn’s main street seethed with visitors and local citizens for its centenary in 1920. That was the occasion when a temporary tramway was first erected in Market Street. Photo: Elwyn Ledsam.

A temporary tramway track running parallel to Belmore Park in Market Street in Goulburn for one of the city’s biggest celebrations was built earlier than suggested in a recent story.

Readers may recall our story on 16 January, ‘All aboard Goulburn’s fun cart on rail tracks’ about a small rail cart loaded up with children running up and down Market Street, just for fun. The story sparked some speculation and a suggestion it was assembled in May 1935 as part of the King’s silver jubilee celebrations.

Since then, Goulburn historian Linda Cooper has uncovered an article showing the temporary tramway was built 15 years earlier, in 1920, as part of centenary celebrations on 25 October coinciding with a visit to the city by the then Governor Sir Walter Davidson and his wife Dame Margaret Davidson.

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The article from the National Library of Australia’s Trove, and another photograph from the celebrations, part of a collection belonging to retired Goulburn butcher Roger Doughty, with a date in the caption, confirm the track and events around it happened in 1920, not 1935.

On that day, people and visitors donned their Sunday best and Auburn Street seethed with crowds of sightseers. The railwaymen of Goulburn took over the city and erected banners at either end of Market Street saying: “NSW Government Railways. Welcome to Goulburn.”

Since this photo appeared last month to illustrate a temporary tramway in Goulburn, more information has come to light, recording Knowlman’s Corner (at left) displaying large pictures portraying the milestones to mark the city’s centenary celebrations in October 1920. Photo: Elwyn Ledsam.

The Sydney Morning Herald report continues: “A tramway track has been laid along the street, on which runs Goulburn’s first tram. It consists of a railway motor, one of a number recently imported by the Railway Commissioners for the use of district superintendents for inspection work. Its presence in connection with the celebrations is opportune, in showing what might be done on many branch lines in providing a passenger service.

“On one side of the street stalls have been erected, and one, a tinware shop, is fully stocked with various household utensils and appliances made by the plumbers and tinsmiths of the Goulburn railway shops.

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“The whole of the work and the stocking of the stalls have been done voluntarily by the railway employees of Goulburn. The splendidly equipped Railway Institute on the same street is also further evidence of their enthusiasm in helping themselves. The building was purchased by the Commissioners, and the work of remodelling and equipping it was carried out by the men in their spare time.”

From a population of 655 people in 1841 when it was first mentioned in a census, Goulburn’s population had reached 16,000 by 1920.

Photographer, dentist and one of the early owners of a motorbike sidecar, Elwyn Ledsam with two members of his family. Photo: Roger Doughty collection.

The city was keen to show off its prosperity with the main street draped in flags for a historical pageant that included Light Horse, mounted police and about 300 people, including relatives of early settlers including the Faithfull, Poidevin, Chisholm, Beresford and Moriarty families.

Another truck in the parade was devoted to young girls and boys who proudly proclaimed that they were ”products of Goulburn”.

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