Clare Railway Centenary Group prepares for the celebration

Opening day of the Clare railway.  Photo attributed to Prof H Tonge, and courtesy of the Clare branch of the National Trust of South Australia.
Opening day of the Clare railway. Photo attributed to Prof H Tonge, and courtesy of the Clare branch of the National Trust of South Australia.

For about 18 months a dedicated group regularly met to plan activities to celebrate the centenary of the opening of the railway to Clare.

The group describes itself as an informal “think-tank” and includes representatives of local history organisations, members of railway organisations, and representatives of the Riesling Trail Management Committee.

The railway to Clare was opened on 4 July 1918, and on reading reports of the opening day, the town showed its best for the visit of his Excellency, the Governor, Sir Henry Galway, and the Members of Parliament who arrived aboard a special train.

It was a holiday for the school children, and they had a free ride on the new railway in the afternoon.

A major event for Clare, as part of the centenary celebrations will be the construction of a three-quarter scale steel cut-out silhouette S class express steam locomotive over the ash-pit at the southern end of the Clare railway precinct.  

The structure will include a plinth behind the cab window, to allow children (of all ages) to be photographed with the illusion of driving the engine.

The centenary group has been recently busy, contacting local schools, to be involved in advanced planning for activities surrounding the centenary.  

These are expected be art and literary activities based on a railway theme.

The National Railway Museum at Port Adelaide will be holding a special “Back to Clare” weekend on 7-8 July 2018.

The major feature of that event will be the Adelaide launch of John Wilson’s book, The Riesling Railway, which deals with the history of the Riverton to Spalding branch-line, from the time it was first mooted in the 1840s, to its present function as the Riesling Trail and the Rattler Trail.