Milson’s Point: Changing Over to the New Station

From Engineering Heritage New South Wales

    The original terminus for the North Shore railway was at a ferry wharf, almost at the site of the abutment tower of the bridge. The North Sydney tramway system also served the arcaded building with immediate access to the ferries.

    To allow construction of the bridge workshops the station had to be moved further westward along the line to a new interchange station and wharf. The station had actually been built and put into use in 1915 but was soon abandoned when it became apparent that construction of the bridge was not imminent. The abandoned station was heavily upgraded with lifts and escalators to the new tram terminus in Glen Street high above.

    The Sydney Mail of 30 July reported the changeover.

The new terminus of the North Shore railway is to bear the name of the old one – Milson’s Point. The changeover was effected by a gang of 45 men of the Permanent Way Department, the work occupying about six hours. The taking up of the rails between the new terminus and the old station, and otherwise clearing that area, will be proceeded with almost immediately to enable Messrs Dorman, Long, and Co., the harbour bridge contractors, to start with the erection of their fabrication works.


ON ONE OF THE ESCALATORS
Here we see a crowd of people from the heights above the station making use of one of the escalators to reach the train and ferry on Monday morning. There are two escalators and a set of permanent steps. As well as an elevator intended for elderly and disabled folks. The escalators work very smoothly. The Sydney Mail 30 July 1924
THE NEW STATION AT 11 O’CLOCK ON SUNDAY NIGHT
The platform on the left is covered with gravel for use in top dressing the ramp extending from the ferry to the station and the escalators, and had to be got ready for the early morning trains. The Sydney Mail 30 July 1924
THE SAME SPOT AS IN THE TOP PICTURE AT 6 A.M. ON MONDAY.
As soon as the 10.10 p.m. train from Old Milson’s Point Station on Sunday passed through the new station the railway track (seen in the picture at left) opposite the new ferry pontoon and the escalators, was torn up and a start made with filling the cutting and levelling it to form the ramp on which travellers are seen in this picture. The work was speedily done and the change over was completed well in time for the first train on Monday. The Sydney Mail 30 July 1924


  

THE TRAM TERMINUS IN GLEN STREET AND THE APPROACH TO THE NEW STATION The Sydney Mail 30 July 1924

    The Sydney Mail was unaware of an embarrassing failure which had occurred at the early morning change-over. Bradfield, in a history of the bridge and railway project now held in the National Library of Australia writes:
The escalator nearest to the station was completed and was kept running for nearly six weeks before the station was opened. The first passenger on the escalator was being carried down to the railway station at half past four in the morning. When nearing the bottom, the escalator stuck and though every endeavour was made to rectify it, the escalator could not be brought into operation until 9 o’clock that evening, since when it has run without a hitch. The other two escalators worked perfectly, one up the other down.

    When Bradfield was challenged by the press as to why the escalator was not working he did not admit the failure but made a virtue of it as an economy measure with the third machine being a reserve for times of extra loading.

The escalators under construction. The new tram terminus was high above the ferry wharf, rather than across a platform as it had been, so efficient transfer of patrons demanded an engineering solution. 10 April 1924 SARA NRS 12685
The Milsons Point escalators were the first installation of these devices for public transport in Sydney, though they had been used in department stores earlier. Escalators were provided at Wynyard and Town Hall with the opening of the bridge in 1932. The now redundant Milsons Point escalators were cannibalised to form an extra machine at Town Hall as traffic increased but this was replaced in the mid 1950s.10 April 1924 SARA NRS 12685


For more information about early railway escalators || https://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/projects/community-engagement/sydney-trains-community/documentaries/escalation-sensation


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