Brass band, jumping castle and cake help celebrate the 140th anniversary of the first train to town | Photos, video

In 1877 Orange, population 2000, was the wheat capital of NSW.

Horses and carts were the prime means of transport and it took three days to get to Sydney by stagecoach.

And then a steam train pulled into town.

Historian Euan Greer said the coming of the railway put Orange on the map.

“Orange was regarded as the granary of the colony at that time,” he said.

“The population of Orange was 2000.

“But 7000 people were in town that day when the railway arrived.

“It was a really big day for Orange.

“It changed Orange for all time.”

Mr Greer said that when the railway was extended further west even better wheat growing areas were established and Orange farmers replaced wheat fields with orchards.

And 140 years later, the celebrations were renewed with the arrival of the XPT from Sydney on Wednesday – albeit about 20 minutes late.

The City of Orange Brass band played, children clutching orange and white balloons and cardboard models of the modern train filled the platform and bounced on a jumping castle in the carpark while dignitaries and station officials gave speeches.

Old and young admired the collection of historic railway photographs on display.

Station customer attendant Margaret Kennedy, who has worked at Orange station for 17 years, cut the official cake as officials attempted to keep the three numbered balloons above it in order to say 140 rather than 104.

The station’s senior customer attendant David Rome said they pleased with the response from local people and some from out of town.

“It’s a great turnout,” he said.

Mr Rome said they had tried to organise steam train to visit for the celebrations but the logistics proved too difficult.

However, he said it was on the agenda for the station’s next big event, its 150th birthday in 2027.

Celebrations of the arrival of the railway continue with the historic photos on display at the Orange City Library until April 22.

And tickets are still available for a symposium on the railway’s importance to Orange and the Central West at Kenna Hall on Sunday.

Five speakers will discuss the railway’s arrival, its economic benefits, the Orange rail heyday of the 1940s and 1950s and its decline.

The forum runs from 10am to 4pm and costs $30.

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