I mentioned the private railway to the Prospect quarry, well here’s the current owner’s heritage report on the site.
The railway gets a mention: “The remnant railway embankment represents a particular period in the life of the quarry and as such has historic value that should be included as part of the site interpretation. The alignment of the original branch railway should be identified and marked out, where this is feasible within the proposed development, so that this aspect of the quarry’s history is not lost. If not feasible it could be incorporated into an interpretive display panel.” Let’s hope that happens.
Boral (the landowner) also has an interesting historical article on the local area. The railway and the quarry get a mention:
“The subject site was originally part of the 500 acre land grant made to the
explorer William Lawson, who built his home Veteran Hall (now an identified
archaeological site on the SHR), to the west of Prospect Hill. In 1846 William
Lawson’s third son, Nelson Simmons Lawson, developed the property as the
Greystanes Estate; the name derived from the grey colour of the basalt
outcrops on the Hill, and built “Greystanes House” to the east of Prospect
Hill. Greystanes was approached by a long drive lined with a mix of English
trees and jacarandas. The house was demolished in 1946 after having fallen
into a state of disrepair (Pollen, 1988: 210).“
Greystanes is of course a local suburb, to the east of the site. The article continues:
“The quarry was formally established in 1870 and soon after was identified as
having the potential to be the principal supplier of basalt rock for metal
production in western Sydney.
“In 1910 a branch railway line was added, connecting the site with the Prospect
line. The Prospect line was constructed in 1901 by the Emu Gravel Company,
it ran for a total of 5.2km on a standard gauge. The original line not only
carried gravel from the site but also carried workers to the quarry until the
line closed in 1926. Evidence exists that this line was used for picnic outings,
where families were taken for a day out. A part of the railway embankment,
is still discernible within Prospect Quarry.“
Now I’m a bit confused here. Although it seems logical (by proximity) to connect to the neighbouring private railway to Toongabbie, I always believed the Widemere line ran independently from the quarry to Fairfield, not Toongabbie. Certainly the graceful curve of the local street layout partially supports that idea, at least to Hassall Street. More investigation needed, I suspect! Back to the article:
“Construction of Prospect Reservoir began in 1882, as an important element of
the Upper Nepean Scheme, and was the main storage reservoir of Sydney’s
fourth water supply system. The water from Prospect Reservoir travelled to
Pipehead Guildford via the Lower Canal, which is south of the Quarry, and to
the immediate north of Widemere East. The western boundary of the quarry
is shared with the Prospect Reservoir which contains several elements in close
proximity to this shared boundary including the outlet/scour tunnel, the
Lower Valve House, the receiving basin and the initial section of the Lower
Canal and the former inlet for 30 inch by-pass. None of these items are visible
from the quarry site.
“The landscape of Prospect Hill on Greystanes Estate has been significantly
altered from its original form. Early grazing practices cleared the entire hill,
as shown in a photograph taken in 1927 (Wallace 1992:2). Quarrying in the
area began in the 1820s, and by the latter part of the century dolorite was
being extracted from Lawson’s estate on the west and north sides of the Hill.”
That’s another story – the Sydney water supply!