News: Celebrating rich rail history
March 1915 when times were tough, the news from foreign shores was grim, and the locomotive depot in Valley Heights may have been lighting candles to celebrate the first birthday of their new workplace.
Built to house, service and maintain the steam engines used to assist passenger and freight trains climbing the steep grades to Katoomba, the depot became an integral part of the Lower Mountains community for the next 60 years.
At its peak 10 locos were based there and up to 80 workers were on the lob in any week.
The site is now home to the Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum, offering a vast collection exhibits that pay homage to the workers.
Open on the second and fourth Sunday or most months, the museum lets visitors enjoy the ambience of the roundhouse and climb on board century-old engines and carnages. You can listen to the latest attraction, an audio loop, which recreates the chatter between Charlie and Harry as they prepare a mighty steam loco for its day’s work.
The historic Sydney steam tram chuffs its way up and down the track for unlimited rides, and the cafe readies you for the trip home with a hot pie and cuppa. So when you reflect on Springwood’s 200th birthday this Saturday, spare half a thought for the depot at Valley Heights, which recently turned 100. And be sure to visit it soon.
Published in the week of Springwood Foundation Day celebrating 200 years since the founding of Springwood.