Did you know the village of Light Pass once had its own railway siding, situated at Plush’s Corner? Back in the glory days of the steam trains, the train network expanded all over the country. In 1924, a line was built that connected Light Pass to Adelaide in one direction, and Truro in the other. It carried passengers up and down the line, parcels, farm produce, marble from the quarry, and horses and racegoers for the picnic races at Light Pass. The siding closed in 1956, and the line was closed in 1968. Bill Plush was the grandson of the owners of Plush’s Corner, and he shares his fascinating memories of the siding and the trains with us. Read about the fruit being loaded from the horse-drawn wagons, the opening of the quarry, and the time the train overshot the line and ended up in the chook pen! And how the sign was removed and discovered again after a long search. Thanks, Bill – it’s a great read!
Note: Plush’s Corner property was purchased by Saddington Plush and his wife Laura in 1889. Saddington’s interest was growing fruit trees, he planted apricots, peaches, plum, apple & pears. He also ran a commercial fruit tree & vine nursery.
Plush’s Corner railway siding – recounted by Bill Plush.
“C’mon boys – HURRY UP! I can see the steam train leaving Stockwell trailing a billowy trail of cinder laden smoke”. This was Grandpa Plush giving orders as clingstone peaches or maybe it was pears were offloaded from the horse drawn wagon onto the covered rail wagon at PLUSH’S CORNER. Heavy cases carried one by one were being stacked and eventually the job was done. “Get the horses on their way” Grandpa shouted “before that hissing, snorting thing causes the gee gees, (named Duke and Rocket) to bolt”.
Plush’s corner was quite a place in those days (1930’s – 40’s). It was situated at the intersection of Stockwell & Kalimna Rds, Light Pass. Kalimna Road was known as the Bush Rd or Bushy for short. The railway siding comprised a platform made of spare bits of railway materials (sleepers, rails, etc) filled up with earth and rubble. Perched on the top was a not so elegant GI shed, box shaped and containing a single bench seat not unlike the style found in the old ‘longdrops’ without the hole. North of the platform was in pride of place the large sign Plush’s Corner and a little further the loop line to accommodate the rail wagon to load the fruit which was being freighted to Adelaide to Jones & Co (IXL brand), which was the fruit cannery.
The steam freight train came through weekly, carting all manner of goods through to Truro and returning to Adelaide carting farm produce.
The rail passenger car ran twice a day so one could travel to Adelaide and return in a day. Small parcels were also carried on this service.
Us kids, my sister Nora, Les Mader and others loved to play out there in the summer evenings and on several occasions we put copper pennies on the line to see them flattened out by the action of the train. One day excitement grew as it was apparent the Truro bound train had stopped a little further down the line. What could it be? I wanted to watch a bit closer but was banned to watching from the dining room window of our house – what rotten luck! Horses were being unloaded (of the racing variety) onto a makeshift platform in a shallow cutting. They were walked around to the local racecourse situated on Sporn’s paddock, about 1½kilometres away. This event occurred several times during the 40’s due to the acute shortage of petrol preventing transport by road. Petrol rationing had to be presented at purchase and supply was critically short.
Soon after the word spread the ICI company was to open a modern quarry at Penrice and we at Plush’s Corner would have not one but two rail lines. A spur line was to be built including a very large embankment curving steeply upwards towards the hill of marble. Soon a convoy of mainly single axle trucks were carting filling, travelling in a circuitous route. Us kids had a ball, conning rides with the truckies following the rail route to be loaded and back via Penrice & Stockwell Rds. For a while us thrill seekers would ride our bikes down the embankment enjoying the corrugations left by the Cat dozers.
About 1950 the trains began with only a few trucks and later over 20 trucks each with 60 tonnes would make the daily run. Large steam locomotives were used and later two diesel engines. The ‘Stone train’ had to stop on the steep incline so the points could be changed to join the single track.
A large heap of earth formed a dead end for the quarry line. And then in about the late 50’s you guessed it, the train could not stop but continued towards Dix’s cottage, stopping just short of it. The Dix family had not heard all the racket as they were quite used to loud train noises, and it was very early in the morning. The embarrassed train driver and his deputy banged loudly of their door and finally roused the family. “Excuse us” they said, “but we have the train stuck in your chook yard. Can you help us?” The answer was “Well no, not really.” The outcome was SA Rail engineers spent several days jacking the locomotives and trucks up and building a new line underneath. Did the brakes fail? Was it going too fast? Or some other malfunction? Nobody knew!
In one way it is quieter at Plush’s Corner now except for the ginormous road trucks on the Stockwell Road carting rubble, cement, wine, and a host of other goods.
The Truro line was only used as far as Stockwell silos and then closed in 1930’s after a huge flood washed a section of the line away. The line was repaired at great taxpayers’ expense and used for another year before being closed (Government Planning, you know). The stone train ran daily to Dry Creek until it too ceased in about 2010.
That is progress you know! Or so they say…..
And Bill also tells this story:
Lost and Found – The Plush’s Corner Railway Sign.
When the siding closed the large sign Plush’s Corner was removed. Bill searched for years to find it, then one day Merv John who had purchased the property in the mid 1950’s surprised Bill by saying he had found the long-lost sign. Merv had been visiting his brother-in-law who lived at Western Flat near Bordertown. While wandering around the property he came across a quad bike ramp and noticed the word Corner was visible, on further investigation he saw the word Plush’s.
How did it get there? Former owners of a property Merv’s in laws had owned at Ebenezer were given the task of clearing the old railway siding and the sign was removed at that time. The sign was refurbished and installed on Bill & Mary’s property not more than 50metres away from the site where it was originally located.
(Thanks to Darlene Cooper, of Luhrs Cottage Preservation Society, for sharing this account with us).