When Pete’s Hobby Railway was officially opened in February last year as part of my 75th Birthday celebrations, the only infrastructure (apart from the initial section of track itself) was a very basic station or platform. What is the difference between a platform and a station? I don’t know… is it the lack of supporting infrastructure such as a building, or does a station have to be staffed?
The Planning Stage
Even at that time, I had general ideas for a structure to complete the platform precinct, hence the placement of the nameboard at the western end of the platform. I envisaged (rather obviously!) that general access to the platform would be from the eastern end, off my driveway leading from the front gate to my humble abode.
My initial thoughts were for a prestressed concrete structure which used to be typical in the Riverina, such as at Kywong, Mangoplah and Westby. The latter two remain to this day, now being in private use. Despite being out of railway use since 1952, the structure at Westby appeared to be in better condition – see Image 2016-0610 below.
Known as the Pc (Prestressed Concrete) series buildings, the smallest (Pc1) was a simple waiting shed, a Pc2 had three rooms (shelter shed and an office with a single living room attached), while the Pc3 was a Pc2 with a ladies waiting room with toilet attached. Kywong was a Pc2 with a length of 37’ 6” (11.4m) while Mangoplah and Westby are both Pc3 versions, 52’ 6” (16m) in length. PHR’s Loftus platform is a shade under 45’ (or 13.7m) in length, so even Kywong would have taken up almost the full length of the platform, while Mangoplah and Westby would be a metre or so longer. Then there would have been the costs of acquisition (if available, plus a possible replacement structure), dismantling, transport and re-erection to meet current building standards … regretfully, those dreams were quickly put to one side. I wonder whether one of these uniquely NSWGR platform buildings will be preserved anywhere?!
The answer lay closer than I had envisaged. As most readers of these Reports are aware, I resided in the Sydney suburb of Loftus for approximately 60 years. When looking at a 1960s colour slide of a steam train departing Loftus station, the answer was staring me in the face. On the down platform was a very simple, small waiting room of wooden construction. Again, it was typical of structures found on the smallest of country platforms, just sufficient to provide basic shelter for intending passengers and/or for small consignments awaiting collection. Like most other Railway structures, there were a number of versions, including a back sliding door to allow consignments to the loaded into or from road vehicles. A few of these remain to this day, such as on the down platform at Exeter and the up platform at Wingello – the latter has just been fully restored and repainted in heritage colours.
Digging around in my collection, I came across a plan dated 25th April 1914 prepared by the Engineer for Existing Lines and numbered D47/01. The waiting room itself was 15-ft by 10-ft (4.5m x 3.05m), with an 8-ft (2.4m) awning. This 1914 plan was used in my Development Application to Council which received formal approval on Tuesday 21st February 2017 (last portion of Progress Report No. 26).
The next stage of completing Loftus platform could now begin and is covered in Progress Report No. 43.
This article forms part of a series about the building of the Unattended Waiting Shed on Loftus Platform at Pete’s Hobby Railway.
The rest of the series can be found at;
Progress Report 37:
Platform Waiting Room Construction Works Commence (Plus Updates)
Progress Report 42:
Waiting Shed for Loftus — What type of Building? [This article]
Progress Report 43:
Waiting Shed for Loftus — the Construction
Progress Report 44:
Waiting Shed for Loftus — Official Opening