Wednesday, 23 January 2013

A Short History of the Camden Branch

The Camden tramway was built between 1881 and 1882. It started at Campbelltown on the main Southern line and wandered across the farmland to Camden. Although called a tramway it ran on its own right of way and light track was used. There were only two major stations on the line – Narellan and Camden. The other locations – Maryfields (Rudd's Gate), Kenny Hill, Curran's Hill, Graham's Hill, Kirkham Lane and Elderslie – were, at best, halts which passengers needed to notify the train guard if they wanted to alight.
The first service operated on 10 March 1882. Services were sparse with trains leaving Camden at 6.20am, 9.00am and 2.45pm. Trains returned from Campbelltown at 8.00am, 11.25am and 7.15pm.

In 1884, the tramway motors used at Camden were replace by two Manning, Wardle locomotives (Nos. 292 and 293).
The line was transferred from the Tramways Department to the Railways Department in 1889 but continued to operate as a tramway. In 1901, the line was upgraded to railway standards and E class 2-6-4 (later 20 class) locomotives took over the operation of the line and continued as the normal motive power until the 1950s.
Services had increased to seven passenger services and four goods services a day with trains departing Camden at 2.55am (goods), 4.50am (goods), 6.49am (passenger), 9.40am (mixed), 12.20am (mixed), 2.44pm (mixed), 4.06pm (passenger), 5.42pm (passenger) 8.17pm (mixed), 10.14pm (mixed) and 10.45pm (goods).
Trains departed on the return journey from Campbelltown at 2.00am (goods), 3.55am (goods), 5.40am (mixed), 8.19am (mixed), 11.03am (mixed), 1.07pm (mixed), 3.30pm (passenger), 5.08pm (passenger), 6.31pm (passenger) 6.34pm (passenger), 9.36pm (mixed) and 9.50pm (goods).
Between the trips to Camden there were also goods trips interspersed to and from Narellan only.

A typical train at Camden station.
Courtesy of Byways of Steam 21,
published by Eveleigh Press

A typical passenger train consisted of a FO car and a CCA car. There are reports of CPH railmotors running to Camden but I have never seen photographs of this event.
A mixed train might have a CCA car for passengers and milk vans or milk tanks, some coal wagons.

A variety of goods wagons were used on the Camden branch, usually with a HG guards van bringing up the rear.
During the last few years of the branch, the 30 class 4-6-4 tank locomotives took over and saw service until the end on 31 December 1962.
Diesels never made it Camden but they were used as far as Narellan. The 79 class was used once on a trial run with a coal train but returned to Central to spend the rest of their lives shunting passenger trains. The 41 class diesels were used on coal haulage between Narellan and the main Southern line at Campbelltown.
For a more detailed history on the line, refer to Byways of Steam 21 available from Eveleigh Press at
In the next post I will show some of the buildings at Camden and the models I have made.