Lapstone railway station celebrated 50 years on Monday and it was all thanks to former Blue Mountains councillor Arthur Hand. In an “unusual” step, he privately funded the building of the railway station after guaranteeing buyers of the estate he subdivided, that the blocks would have a railway.
Former Blue Mountains mayor and Lapstone resident Bob Clarke was on hand for the celebrations and said the station, and much of Lapstone itself, was built by Hand in 1963-64.
“This retired 75-year-old man effectively built his own station by financing and assisting with the building of Lapstone railway station,” Mr Clarke said.
In October 1954, Mr Hand signed a contract to purchase 116 acres of timbered, but vacant land, in the Lower Mountains known as Stephen’s Paddock. He immediately started to subdivide, up to 20 acres at a time, the area which is now Lapstone, Mr Clarke said.
“When Hand started selling the Lapstone blocks in 1956, he guaranteed buyers a railway station. It took several years for the Department of Railways to give consent for the construction of Lapstone Railway Station. Negotiations with the railways were successful, with the agreement that Hand finance the building of the station.”
Mr Clarke said the station cost Mr Hand 32,000 pounds and “part of the agreement was that the department would compensate Hand when ticket sales reached a predetermined figure. Hand never expected that arrangement would be realised in his lifetime.”
While the station’s history is short compared to its closest stops – Glenbrook (1867 and 1913 in its current location) and Emu Plains (1868) – it played a major role helping the new residential area to Glenbrook’s east forge its own identity.
The 50th anniversary party was initiated by thestation master Michaella Tanner. NSW TrainLink pitched in to provide the morning peak barbecue and members of the Lapstone community tracked down older commuters who had memories and memorabilia to share.
“The station is an integral part of the
community and we are pleased to be able to commemorate an important part of Lapstone heritage,” NSW Trains chief executive Rob Mason said.
A NSW TrainLink spokeswoman could not say whether the railways had ever repaid Hand the debt to build the station, but Australia Railway History editor Bob McKillop told the Gazette he thought they had, locating old records showing the railway commissioner of the time had accepted a bill for 32,566 pounds.
“The Commissioner’s decision was on the 30th of November 1964, so presumably this cleared the way for reimbursement of costs to [Mr Hand’s company] Lapstone Estates,” he said.
Mr McKillop said a privately built station was “unusual” for NSW, but “possibly more common in other states”.