Lake Macquarie History

Fernleigh Loop - Adamstown Belmont Railway - Fernleigh Track

As the railway was a single track, crossings and a siding were constructed at different locations along the railway south from Adamstown to enable trains to pass. The first of these was Fernleigh Loop. Fernleigh Loop was originally known as Redhead Loop - after the Readhead coal company; the name change occurring from January 1925. As you can see from the historical map below, the Fernleigh (Redhead) Loop actually contained two loops. The up loop catered for trains heading south to Belmont, and the Down loop catered for trains heading on to Adamstown and beyond.

photo: fernleigh loop 1950

Train speed through the loop was not to exceed 6 kilometres per hour. Operational instructions stated that, “When arriving at any loop, the train’s guard must apply the brake-van brake and sufficient vehicle hand brakes. If proceeding to Adamstown, train must be brought to a halt so that hand brakes can be pinned down preparatory to descending the 1 in 40 grade to Adamstown.” This arduous and potentially dangerous task had to be performed day and night irrespective of weather conditions. At least one fatality is known to have occurred here to a guard performing his duty. The Fernleigh down loop was lifted in the period 1960-1965. The up loop is now the path of the Fernleigh Track. Fernleigh Loop Signal Box was cut out from November 1979. Despite the termination of the rail “Fernleigh Loop” the name lives on in the name of a street in a nearby housing estate developed in the early 1980s. Diagram drawn by Brian Robert Andrews from Adamstown via Fernleigh

photo: fernleigh loop signalman

Photograph at left: The Fernleigh Loop signalman exchanges safe working staffs with the driver of 4881 on Saturday, 31 March 1979. The train was conveying coal from John Darling Colliery at Belmont North to the exchange sidings at Morandoo opposite B.H.P.’s Newcastle Steelworks. The train is on the” main line”, sections of which have been retained for interpretive purposes. The rails in front of the signal box are those of the up loop, the Fernleigh Track now occupies this location. Photo. Ed Tonks from Adamstown via Fernleigh

As at 17 August 1986 the Fernleigh Loop Signal Box still stood as something of a shell. It had been gutted of its essential internal fittings for signalling purposes. It stood with roof and awning and external steps on the Adamstown end. The platform for staff exchange on the main line was still in position. When The Rail Motor Society’s CPH1 ran over the line on 21 February 1987 the signal box was still standing in much the same condition as on August 1986. By 15 September 1988 the signal box remains had been pushed over onto the eastern side of the railway embankment. The staff exchange platform met the same fate. Demolition possibly occurred with the removal of superfluous communication wires. Signal posts had also been toppled.

Reference

Newcastle (N.S.W.). Council & Lake Macquarie (N.S.W.). Council 1999, Implementation plan for the Fernleigh Track : Final, Newcastle City Council?], [Newcastle, N.S.W.?

Tonks, Ed & New South Wales Rail Transport Museum 1988, Adamstown via Fernleigh : trains and collieries of the Belmont line, New South Wales Rail Transport Museum, [Burwood, N.S.W.

Brown, Russell & Williamsz, Patricia & Spencer, Brenda 1994, The Fernleigh Track : a living corridor : an action and management plan for the Adamstown-Belmont railway line, s.n.], [Newcastle, N.S.W.?