Fast Facts about the ‘Via Recta’

SURVEYED Via Recta 1885, Warwick – Maryvale May 1909
WORK STARTED 7th December 1909
OPENED 30th September 1911
CLOSED 1st November 1960
STATUS Via Recta Never Completed Fully


The line was surveyed from Warwick to Maryvale by Mr. Blackman in May 1909. Estimated cost to build the line was £63,424.14.1. Approval to build the line from Warwick to Maryvale was given on 7th December 1909. Mr. William Pagan was the Chief Engineer appointed to oversee the building of this line. Work began on 28th February 1910, and employed up to 164 men, 31 horse and dray teams, and 14 plough and scoop teams.

Premier William Kidston, officially started the work by turning the first sod on Friday 18th March, 1910. During 1910 & 1911, the building of the railway line was delayed on several occasions. Heavy rain during the winter of 1910 delayed the building the earthworks. Then between February and March, 1911 heavy rain caused flooding and washed away some of the earthworks already done.

The line was officially opened by the Premier Mr. Denham on Saturday 30th September 1911. Two ladies held a royal blue ribbon 3” wide across the track while the locomotive passed through it.


Between 3 and 4 o’clock on Wednesday afternoon, a slight tornado accompanied by heavy rain of a short duration yield 2 inches. The downpour was responsible for some damage to the railway line near Clintonvale. Some of the corn and soil on one side of the rails were carried over to the other side and for a considerable distance the rails were completely hidden beneath the large deposit of earth.

Mr. Assistant Traffic Manager Ross lost no time in having the line open for traffic.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1914 – THE MARYVALE LINE – Stranded at Gladfield

(Sunshine Express, December, 1989)

The southern part of the Darling Downs is particularly susceptible to storms and sudden downpours, whilst tornadoes and whirlwinds are not unknown. Damage to the permanent way and communications generally often occurs as a result of these storms.

Following three days torrential rain with intermittent hail the branch track between Warwick and Maryvale was in a bad state early in February 1914, these being frequent slips and washouts.
The train on Monday 2nd February 1914 had evidently run to schedule but the following day, the evening mixed to Maryvale was stranded at Gladfield because of washouts on the line. Gladfield in those days was not a bad place to get stuck; the Maryvale bound passengers and crew could console themselves in the cozy confines of the newly opened Gladfield Hotel adjoining the station while the rain fell outside.

Upon receipt of advice from the train crew at Gladfield, the District Superintendent at Warwick organized a ballast train and repair gang which was dispatched at daybreak from Warwick for the washout at Gladfield.

No attempt had been made by the train crew to continue to Maryvale during the night and the branch train commenced from Gladfield that Wednesday morning, evidently crossing the ballast train at Freestone, which was in those days a staff station with a station master in charge.

Despite a full days toil by the repair gang at the site of the washout, the evening mixed from Warwick has held up for 45 minutes on the outskirts of Gladfield, while the gang pigs tied the track.

Built: 1921
Demolished: 1970
Location: Warwick (Southern Line)

In 1921 an elevated coal stage was erected on the south-eastern side of the Condamine River Bridge. It was a coal stage and storage bunker.

PB15 444 was one of the locos regularly on ‘stage duties’. It would gingerly push a rake of loaded coal hoppers from one end of Warwick Yard to the other to gain sufficient speed to get up the stage.

One of the tracks went in a straight line to the stage. Too little speed, try again, too much, and over the end went the hoppers.

Warwick Coal stage looking back towards the station.

BB18 1/4 1081 passing alongside the Warwick Coal stage.

BB18 1/4 1081 passing alongside the Warwick Coal stage.

PB15 444 was one of the regulars on ‘coal stage duty’.

Although it was demolished in 1970, evidence of where this coal stage was built can still be seen.

Opened: 2 January 1888
Renamed: From ‘East Warwick’ to ‘Warwick’
Location: Southern Line
Status: Station and Goods Shed still in operation

Warwick had two railway stations.

The first opened in 1871 as ‘Warwick’ and was located on the northern side of the Condamine River. It’s name was changed to ‘Millhill’ in 1888.

In July 5, 1881, with the extension of the railway to Stanthorpe, a platform for passengers had been established at ‘East Warwick’ on the southern side of the river. By 1882, a shelter shed had been provided. Although not close to town, it was more convenient than old Warwick Station (Mill Hill) and plans for the Via Recta and St. George railway provided for East Warwick to be the main station.

The Platform and awning at the Warwick Station by night.

It was observed at the time that the shifting of the Warwick railway station to East Warwick, on the town side of the Balonne, would not be very expensive matter, and would be a great convenience to the good people of that place.

Work started in earnest at East Warwick in 1886. During March, a gang of men was to be set to work to lay down the rails for the new station yard and marking out the site for the buildings.

The plans of the new goods shed to be erected at East Warwick were lying at the Station Master’s office. “The building is to be a commodious stone and iron construction 200ft x 70ft, and will be erected on a spot on the western side of the line between Fitzroy and Grafton Streets.”

On JUNE 5, 1886 Tenders were invited for the erection of a new passenger station at East Warwick. The plans provide for a single story brick building 128 feet long by about 30 feet wide (not including verandah). The passenger platform would be 200 feet long. The accommodation provided includes a booking office 23 feet 6 inches by 9 feet 3 inches, station master’s office, waiting room, ladies room, telegraph office, porter’s room, lamp room, while the lessee of the refreshment room will have at his disposal a bar-room 21 feet 4 inches by 30 feet 4 inches and kitchen and servant’s room.

The new station, though not a very elaborate structure, was thought likely to meet the requirements of the town for some years to come.

Then on JUNE 26, 1886 Fresh tenders were called for the station, and the contract eventually went to R. Godsall for £5624 ($11,248). The building was built in local sandstone from Mt. Tabor Quarry, which was owned by Mr. D. Connelly. The stonemason being John McCullock.
The building, which was to be of pick-dressed stone, wit concrete floor and iron roof, would be erected a few feet south of Grafton-street. The contract price was about £5600, and the time fifteen months. The building would be 135 ft. long by 35 ft. wide; the platform would be 250ft. in length.

On OCTOBER 26, 1886 tenders were advertised for building an ash-pit, and foundations for a turntable at East Warwick and were awarded on December 21, 1886 to Mr. H. J. Godsall for £380 14s.

By DECEMBER 21, 1886 the walls of the new passenger station were beginning to show above ground. The original specification provided that Murphy’s Creek stone should be used in the front portion of the building, but it was decided to use Swan Creek stone instead.

It was reported on MARCH 5, 1887 that the stone and brickwork of the new passenger station was approaching completion, and if this building and the goods shed are not to lie ‘idle on completion’ it would be necessary to let the contracts for the engine and carriage shed, tank-stands, at an early date.

By late MAY 1887 the walls of the passenger station have been finished, and the carpenters are now engaged putting on the roof. The platform here is to be 250ft. long and 15ft. wide, filled in with muck top dressed with gravel. We quite agree with Mr. Alderman Sterne that this ought to be altered ; either asphalt or cement would be preferable in every way. The turntable and ashpit have been completed ; the former has a diameter of 40ft., sufficient to admit of engine and tender being turned at the same time. It is built of stone, and seems substantial enough to last until the crack of doom.

As yet there is no sign of a start being made with the other buildings – engine and carriage sheds and station master’s residence.

It was JANUARY 2, 1888 when the new Passenger Station and Goods Shed at East Warwick were occupied by the officers of the Railway Department for the first time. Hence forth traffic arrangements were conducted from this point.

Gas lighting was installed in April 1888. “The platform, office, were lighted with gas for the first time last night. The light was brilliant and steady, and in marked contrast to the “darkness visible” which was prevailed there up to the present. ” Mr. R. Williams, of Palmerin Street, contractor for the fittings, appears to have carried out his work in a highly satisfactory manner.

It wasn’t until APRIL 24, 1888 officials spent the afternoon marking out sites for the station-master’s residence, engine and carriage sheds, tank stand, in the newly completed East Warwick Yard. Plans of these works will be prepared at once, and the buildings will be erected without further delay. The Killarney line is to be deviated at the junction, so as to do away with the necessity for backing-in trains.

By 1900 a timber footbridge had been constructed off Grafton Street to plans of the Railways Section of the Works Department. This was planned to minimise the risk of people living on the eastern side of the railway complex, crossing the tracks. The Tighe brothers were awarded the contract, and the bridge which was lit with lamps and was built at a cost of £209/16/-.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18, 1905 – (E&T) – RAILWAY TRAFFIC RECORDS – Business at the local railway station was very heavy during last week, particularly in the despatch of consignments of produce to over the border centres. In these wheat and maize bulked largely, and almost daily nearly 500 tons of produce have been despatched. Trains to Brisbane were also fully loaded with grain &c., from the Killarney and Thane branch lines. The cramped nature of the station and the want of siding accommodation is still keenly felt. On an average 24 trains a day were despatched from the Warwick station during the week.

In 1907 it was reported that one locomotive was stationed in Warwick. By 1911, it was reported that 15 locomotives was based in Warwick and up to fifty trains a day arriving and departed Warwick.

Around 1910-12 a new metal footbridge was built, comprises one 25 feet, three 58 feet and one 25 feet sections of steel lattice trusses with steel stairway stringers and guard fences both ends. It is supported on steel columns on concrete bases. The footbridge is rare (perhaps only) surviving example of a footbridge built in steel/wrought iron.

In 1912 Work commenced on the re-arrangement, enlargement and improvement of the staff quarters, machine shop and interlocking, and a new engine shed to hold seven locomotives and a 60 foot turntable, with two cabins controlling the yard. The sandstone that was used for turntable retaining walls and in other buildings in 1912 came from Yangan Quarry which was owned by the Brewer Family.

On MAY 24, 1913 the widening of the platform by 7 feet was completed and a new awning was erected and Warwick Locomotive sheds were completed on 7th September.

Attached to the depot were repair shops, employing about ten fitters. Lighter repairs, such as for carriages and wagons, and the putting on of new wheels are carried out. Forty loco engines are attached to the depot; also breakdown equipment and gang are kept in readiness for any emergency. In fact, the depot is a very busy section of the railway system.

On 29th November 1917 Warwick gained worldwide publicity when the Prime Minister Billy Hughes was giving a speech on the platform, when an egg was thrown at him, knocking off his hat. Hughes ordered the Warwick Constable “Arrest this man” but the policeman said “you have no jurisdiction”. This incident was associated with the forming of the Commonwealth Police Force. It is now know as ‘The Egg Throwing Incident”. This incident resulted in the Federal Police being formed.

In 1921 an elevated coal stage was erected on the south-eastern side of the Condamine River Bridge and was demolished in 1970. Evidence of where this coal stage was built can still be seen.

By 1926 close on 300 people were employed by the railways at Warwick. There were 130 in traffic (Station staff, guards, signalman, wagon maintenance), and 152 on the loco staff (drivers, firemen, mechanics, cleaners).

As many as 60 trains were dealt with in a 24 hour period, necessitating, among others, the services of four shunting shifts and three station masters. There were forty locomotives based in Warwick along with breakdown equipment to attend accidents and mishaps.

For the year ending 30th June, 1926, the number of passengers put through, exclusive of season ticket holders, was 40,461, the revenue derived from such, inclusive of season ticket holders, being £15,332. The revenue from parcels and miscellaneous traffic was £2736. During the same term 9789 tons of agricultural produce was dealt with (revenue £6718), also general merchandise 6416 tons (£10,114), wool 94 tons (£433), 382 tons of logs and swan timber: total outwards goods traffic, 16,922 tons (revenue £18,258); total revenue outwards £36,326. Inwards goods traffic dealt with totalled 16,922 tons (£18,258). The depot also deals with a considerable amount of live stock traffic

Trains were a popular attraction in the days gone by and Warwick was one place were the Commissioner reserved the right to charge sixpence for platform tickets on Sundays to reduce the crowd of onlookers.

Although no-one would have realised it, the decline of Warwick started 1953 when the first diesel arrived.

By 1959 with the Via Recta unfulfilled, goods and especially passenger traffic to Warwick was very susceptible to competition and after the post World War 2 period Warwick had declined in importance. Economies were affected in 1959 when Cabin A was disconnected and a 2-lever frame provided on the platform to control the up home and outer home signals in conjunction with Cabin B, much interlocking being disconnected in the process.

The station building was guttered by fire on 29th September, 1963. Bond-wood huts were placed on the platform under the awning until the building was restored internally (but without the refreshment room) and re-opened in late 1964-early 1965.

With dieselisation in 1967, Warwick was practically eliminated as a locomotive depot, the working being Toowoomba to Wallangarra or Inglewood, but shunting and Amiens trains were locally worked – it still had a C-17 class engine (No.971) late in 1968.

Full closure was not implemented due to political and union pressure until early 1970’s. 100’s of railway employees lost their jobs or were transferred elsewhere. This hit businesses in Warwick hard as over a million dollars in wages that was spent in the district every fortnight was lost.

In late 1969 or early 1970 the locomotive depot along with the associated buildings were demolished and so was the coal stage and water tanks. Inspections pits filled in and only one of the locomotive roads along with the turntable remained.

Although the Station Building and Goods Sheds survived, a significant amount of Warwick Yard has been lost. Gone are the signal cabins, signals, and many of the sidings. What is left here is only a shadow of yesteryear.

However, the SDSR has restored 4 of the 7 bays of the locomotive roundhouse, and C17 971 has returned to the shed for restoration. In an era where steam was king, and Warwick had a hustling Railway, only peace and quiet remain, except for the return of steam.

Open: 10 January 1871
Renamed: 1888 from Warwick to Mill Hill
Closed: 30 May 1975
Location: Southern Line
Status: Platform & Station building still exist.

Some documentation refer to this location as one word “Millhill”, and some as two-words “Mill Hill”. The station sign that is mounted on the side of the station building is shown as two words.

Rails had reached Warwick by December 1870. On January 10th 1871, Warwick (Mill Hill) Station was officially opened. Within a year two mixed trains were running to Warwick (Mill Hill). It was not due to the business generated at Westbrook, Cambooya, Clifton, or Allora but to the discovery of tin at what became Stanthorpe. Ingot and steam tin consigned from Warwick was such a valuable supplement that the amount was published monthly in the Government Gazette.

What remains of the Mill Hill Station in 2006.

The Warwick (Mill Hill) terminus comprised of a station house, platform, goods shed, engine shed, carriage shed and tank stand, a 25’ turntable and pits. (It is believed that the turntable was transferred to Killarney when a 40 foot turntable was built at East Warwick in 1886-87).

A traffic in ‘stream” (alluvial) tin from Stanthorpe began in 1876 – 16 tons of ingot and 278 tons of stream tin being forwarded. This would lead to the construction of the railway to Stanthorpe.

And on July 6, the running of through trains commenced between Brisbane and Warwick (Mill Hill). Depart Brisbane 6.45 a.m. arrive Warwick 5.37 p.m. Depart Warwick 6.20 a.m. arrive Brisbane 1.15 p.m.

By May 6, 1878 work had started on construction of the line south of Warwick (Mill Hill) to Cherry Gully and Stanthorpe.

In 1881, sheep yards were erected at Warwick (Mill Hill) as well as a new station master’s residence after complaints about the original building. The old station master’s residence became the refreshment rooms in 1883.

Tuesday, January 10, 1888 – (WA) – The new railway yard and buildings at East Warwick, having now been occupied for a week, we are in a position to form some idea as to how they are likely to suit the purpose for which they are being used. As far as the passenger station is concerned, except in one or two details it is all that could be desired. The platform, instead of being cemented or asphalted, as it should have been, is covered with a coarse sandy gravel which will never bind, and must in consequence continue to be (what is has already proved) a source of annoyance and discomfort to the public and to the officers of the department. This matter engaged the attention of the Municipal Council on Wednesday, and it was decided to communicate with the proper authority without delay, with the view to having an alteration effected. The yard is also in a bad state; the filling-up stuff used was soft “muck,” covered with sand and small stones taken from creek beds, into which dray wheels sink six or eight inches. So far nothing has apparently been done to provide the necessary additional buildings. The station master lives nearly two miles from his post of duty, an arrangement which would be a mistake under any circumstances, but which will be something worse than inconvenient when the night train service comes into force next week. There are no facilities for watering the locomotives at East Warwick, and until tanks are provided it will be necessary to stop for water at the old station, which we understand it is proposed to rename Hayesmill. This is a delay which could have been obviated had the various works at East Warwick been pushed on simultaneously. The new goods shed is convenient and roomy, but no doubt if the accommodation will prove sufficient for the inward and outward traffic. At present the Killarney train ha to back in from and out to the Junction, nearly a mile distance from East Warwick.

This arrangement is said to be necessary because the Department cannot afford to spend the small amount (about £1000) which would be required to deviate a few chains of the Killarney line. The bridge over the Condamine, about half a mile in length, intervenes between the Junction and East Warwick, and across this the train is backed. “backing in” trains is a rather dangerous practice, and may prove more costly than an outlay of a few hundred pounds. But the Department seems bent upon economy, and will risk pounds to save pennies. The refreshment room at the passenger station is occupied by the new lessee (Mr. J. Allman, of the Criterion Hotel), who has fitted up the dining room and bar in a manner likely to give every satisfaction to the travelling public. We presume that on the down journey, Brisbane to Sydney, the stoppage for dinner will be made at Warwick. It is a pity that a cellar was not provided for in the original plan, for it is almost impossible to keep liquor cool in such a climate as ours without a convenience of this kind. However, a cellar has been promised, and we presume it will be provided in due course. As is the custom with our much-manned Railway Department, the Assistant Engineer will doubtless be instructed to “furnish a report upon the subject;” this will be submitted to the Principal Assistant Engineer for advice, and passed on to the Chief Engineer and Engineer for Existing Lines for approval; then the Traffic Manager will be asked to concur, and having done so he will advise the Commissioner accordingly; Mr. Curnow will due course consult with the Minister, and it is quite within the bounds of possibility that the latter will decide that the proposed improvement is not required. Our Railway Department is a complex piece of machinery, which “moves in a mysterious way its wonders to perform.” It has been tinkering at east Warwick for more than two years, but the establishment is still in a very unsatisfactory condition of incompleteness.

Upon the opening of Warwick East Railway Station, many changes quickly took place at Warwick (Mill Hill) Station. The Commissioner for Railways opened the new sandstone station and goods shed at East Warwick on 3rd January 1888.

January 3, 1888 – (WA) – RAILWAY TRAFFIC – The new passenger station and goods shed at East Warwick were occupied by the officers of the Railway Department for the first time yesterday. Hence forth traffic arrangements will be conducted from this point; the old station at North Warwick (which is to be renamed) will, however, be used for passenger traffic, and also for goods by those who desire to have their freight delivered there.

It wasn’t long before East Warwick became the new Warwick Terminus and the original ‘Warwick’ station was renamed ‘Mill Hill’.

Most of Mill Hill’s infrastructure was moved to other stations. Passenger traffic and freight traffic continued for many years, and Mill Hill is an important chapter in Warwick’s History

Mill Hill was closed as an official station on Friday, 30th May, 1975.

Opened: 1871
Location: Warwick, Southern Line
Status: Operational

Warwick has had three lomotive depots over the years. The first was at Millhill (which can be seen from Rose St in Warwick) which opened in 1871 as ‘Warwick’ station. It had an engine shed for one locomotive, a 7.5m turntable and a water tower.

Warwick locomotive depot with roundhouse in the 1960’s.

The second depot was built in 1887 at East Warwick which is now Warwick. There was a 12m turntable, a water tower (the old Millhill water tower) and two sidings to stow locomotives. An engine shed was never built.

By the 1900s Warwick became a junction for five rail lines and as many as 60 trains a day would arrive and depart from here. A larger depot was required, so in 1912 a new depot was built on the site where the Warwick Railway Precinct now stands.

The new depot consisted of an engine shed (roundhouse) to hold seven locomotives, a 18.2m turntable and two 24.3m tall water tanks.

The depot was a hive of activity with repair shops employing about ten fitters, carriage and wagon repair shops and breakdown equipment. These were to cover over forty locomotives that were attached to the depot. Some idea of the size of the depot may be gained by the fact that close to 300 people were employed. 130 in Traffic and Maintenance and 152 on the Loco Staff.

The depot was also closed down in 1970 and all the buildings were demolished over the years following. In the end, only the turntable survived, with all the other structures being demolished to ground level, and all the ash pits filled in with earth and ash.

The Warwick Locomotive Depot gained new life in 1995, when work started on the restoration of the depot buildings.