The Railway to Manilla
In Tamworth in June 1881, a deputation from Manilla met the Minister for Public Works, with a proposal for the government to build a tramway to Manilla. Disappointingly for Manilla, the request was denied. Years passed, before a public meeting was held at the Caledonian hotel Tamworth in 1889, anbd the forming of the Tamworth to Manilla Railway League. As a result, two public works officers visited Manilla and Barraba district the next year and inspected the country to ascertain the amount of settlement a railway line would create.
In February 1892, Mr. Dowell M.P., moved in the legislative assembly that the proposal to construct a railway from Tamworth to Barraba via Manilla be submitted to the Parliamentary standing committee, but on the question being put, it was rejected. Not to be discouraged, Mr Dowell had a meeting with the then Minister for Public Works, W.J. Lyne, who sited a lack of money, even for works authorised, but agreed to have a survey made of the proposed line, without promising to build it. However, in 1893, Railway Surveyor staff left Sydney bound for Manilla, to commence surveys for a railway from Tamworth to Manilla and Surveyor Stack's chosen route of the late 1870s would inevitably mark the path of the Tamworth-Manilla line. In 1896 a bill to build this railway was passed in Parliament and tenders were called for the supply of 73,000 ironbark sleepers for the job.
Work Begins 1898
Having completed all the earthworks between Tamworth and Manilla by June 1898, leaving just the station yards to be finished within the next two weeks, the contractor commenced plate-laying in July.
The line was expected to be in operation by September or October 1898. An iron bridge of 3 spans of 66ft each being erected over the Peel river at Attunga would not be ready until the end of the year, so a temporary bridge was erected, in order to transport the season's wheat and wool.
The building of the railway brought growth and prosperity to Manilla & District, as well as profitable development all along the 18 miles of fertile pasture between Tamworth and the town.
In the second edition of the fledgling Manilla Express on January 28 1899, Maddison and Williams, Government Contractors for the Tamworth and Manilla Railway, advertised a Daily Train Service between Tamworth and Manilla for Goods and Passengers - fares being 3s.6p. to Tamworth and 6 shillings a return ticket (35c and 60c today).
Manilla Railway Buildings 1998. 2 descriptions
Plans of the Manilla Timber Trestle Rail Bridge
Editing the Article.. more to come