Heidelberg Historical Society

Planning for the Direct Heidelberg Railway Line.

This article provides interesting details of the views held by those involved in deciding on the direct route of the railway from Melbourne to Heidelberg. By 1889, the roundabout route from Melbourne via Royal Park, North Fitzroy, North Carlton and Clifton Hill was the only way travellers could reach Heidelberg. Heidelberg was coming to life, but needed direct trains.


Published in Mercury and Weekly Courier, Thursday 23 May 1889 Page 3. Acknowledgement to TROVE and the State Library of Victoria.

What ever the source the results are bad, and it is time that the evils were remedied, for not only does the want of direct communication hinder the development of the whole of the Northern district, but the colony generally is being robbed by reason of the extravagant waste in allowing thousands upon thousands of pounds to be sunk, where by constructing a short connection the line could be made to be one of the most profitable in the colony.

It is with a view to securing this link that the agitation has been taken up again, and unless the Premier has his hands strengthened by dissensions in the ranks of the agitators, there is every prospect of the work being done in the near future. The inhabitants of Northcote, Preston and the various settlements beyond want the line carrying through Fitzroy. Of course Fitzroy wants the line, and combined they form a strong body. Collingwood has the support of Fairfield, Alphington, Heidelberg, and the villages beyond, and then two opposing forces are the while cutting each throats, if I may be allowed the metaphor. This game of recrimnations is the one toothsome morsel for Duncan ; delay evidently being more to his taste than progress in this particular. However, be that as it may, if the inhabitants of Fitzroy and Collingwood could but come to a mutual understanding on this subject, and assist each other to carry out the programme one might reasonably expect to see one or other, or even both lines constructed in the near future. Unless this is done, and all parties sink their grievances for the common good, we may rest assured that Mr. Gillies will take advantage of this loop-hole, and the Northern-Suburbs will have to pursue the old and even tenor of their ways. At the last ordinary meeting of the council a resolution was passed to the effect that the time being now ripe, it would be advisable to urge upon the government to extend the railway line right into the city. Accordingly it was decided to hold a public meeting to consider the question and form a monster deputation to wait upon the Minister. The meeting was announced for Monday night, a very good number mustered in the Heidelberg Hall, and great interest was manifested in the proceedings by all present. Mr. P. W. Smith, Shire President, occupied the chair ; he explained the reasons for calling the meeting, they wanted direct railway communication with Prince's Bridge.

At present they could get to Collingwood or Clifton Hill, but this was only a part of what they required. Cr. McCallum moved :— "That the progress and prosperity of the Northern suburbs having been so long retarded by the want of proper direct railway communication with Melbourne, this meeting resolves to urge upon the government the imperative necessity for an immediate remedy for this neglect by the construction of a line from Collingwood or Fitzroy to Prince's Bridge. Cr. Bond, seconded. Both gentlemen in speaking to the resolution, dwelt on the necessity of the direct communication whatever different opinions theremight be as to the question of route. It was now for those whose interests were in the promotion of the district to agitate until they got what they wanted ; by being unanimous they might be able to accomplish a great deal, further-more, they had all the metropolitan papers in their favor. Mr. Alfred Ford thought that the words "from Colingwood or Fitzroy" should be struck out.

This was done, and the words were altered to "direct communication to Prince's Bridge." As amended the motion was put and carried unanimously.

A second resolution moved by Mr. Thomas Ford, and seconded by Mr. B. Mills, was as follows :— "That while this meeting is in no way hostile to the Fitzroy route, they desire to request that the Collingwood line may be at once constructed, as the distance to be formed is shorter, the cost of compensation would be less, it would take a shorter time for completion, and the tunnelling required for the Fitzroy line would be avoided, while the Whittlesea line could easily be joined on the Collingwood line." The mover said that the wants of Heidelberg demanded a direct line, and the deputation that would be appointed to wait on the Minister of Railways, should urge that the line should be included in the forthcoming Railway Bill, and further than that, that it should be the first to be constructed. The Northern suburbs have been neglected, as all will agree. The line they wanted was that from Johnston-street to Melbourne. In a previous bill this line was provided for, but it had never got any further, on account of the cost, A line up country had cost twice as much as was estimated for construction, and he asked why was not that struck out as well as the Heidelberg one. The seconder made allusions to the trains being feeders for the trams, they had to step from the train to the tramcar, it was very like the spider and the fly and web, all tending towards the Tram Company, who reaped the profits. Other gentlemen spoke including Mr. Wilkinson, the member for Bourke East. The Rev. Mr. Pickering moved :— "That a large deputation be appointed to wait upon the Premier, and urge upon him the requests of the previous resolutions." This motion was carried as was the previous one, although an amendment was sought to be made to the effect "that the question of route be left in the hands of the department." But it was considered, as urged by a speaker, more effective to go to the government and ask for something decided, than to go begging and imploring for consideration. The following were appointed on the deputation :— The president and members of the Shire Council, the Rev.  H. A. Pickering, Messrs. A. and T. Ford. (representatives of the Railway League), the Fairfield and Alphington Progress Society, Messrs. Mills, Gardner, Crisp, Blake, H. Oakes, and Mealey.

A public meeting was held in aid of the movement for increased hospital accommodation for Melbourne, at the Heidelberg Hall on Monday evening. Mr. Newton E. Jennings moved— "That this meeting acknowledges the necessity for increased hospital accommodation for Melbourne, and pledges itself to give a hearty support to the movement initiated at the Town Hall on 27th April last. Mr. A. Ford, of Ivanhoe, seconded the motion, urging the necessity for immediate action being taken. The motion was carried. Cr. McCallum moved to the effect that a committee be formed to arrange for collecting subscriptions in aid of this object. Mr. B. Mills seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously. A committee was appointed, consisting of the president and councillors of the Shire of Heidelberg, Mr. Jennings, (the Shire secretary), Messrs. S. Gardner, J.P. Norris and Bysouth, with power to add to their number.

The following subscriptions were at once obtained—S. Gardner, J.P., £2 2s; T. Wragg, £2 2s; P. W. Smith, J.P., £1 1s.; B. Mills, £1 1s.; N. E. Jennings, £1 1s.; Dr. James, 10s. 6d; Rev. A. J. Pickering, 10s ; Cr. Bond, J.P., 10s.; Cr M'Callum 10s.; M. D. Sullivan, 10s.; Messrs. D. Norris, £1 1s.; Steel, £1; A. Emery, 10s. 6d.; H. Oakes, 10s. 6d; R. Bysouth, 10s; Crisp, 10s; Waltham, 10s.; Billings, 5s. ; Constable Burton, 5s.