Blast from the Past: “The Tanks”

In the early years of settlement it was essential that supplies could be shipped in and out and that the Bar to the entrance to Wallis Lake be navigable at all times. In the 1890’s it was decided a breakwall extending out to sea be built along the Forster shore.

In 1898 Richard Hungerford quarried rock from the northern side of Bennett’s Head. He built a steam-operated railway, using two small locomotives. The railway ran for 2.4km along the coast from Bennetts Head, behind Pilot Hill to the breakwall.

The line passed along the foreshores in front of the present Forster Primary School, and through the area generally known as “The Tanks” where steam engines were filled with water.

“The Tanks” referred to a collection of steel ship’s tanks, which were on a three metre high wooden stand. They were 1.2m square and held approximately 1820 litres (400 gallons) of water.  A windmill situated beside the tanks drove the lift pump, which pumped water up into the tanks from a nearby well.

This photograph of the tanks area, shows the rail and crane staff with mill, slab workshop and tanks on the right.

Copies of this image are available at the museum.

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