The railway line from Newcastle to Maitland was completed in 1857 and a start then made to extend the railway westward, with the line from Quirindi to Tamworth completed in 1878.
Surveys to establish the best route to the Queensland border were undertaken, finding that the main road routes were:-
1) over the Moonbi range, a) to Armidale, Glen Innes and Tenterfield, or b) to Bundarra and Inverell;
2) via Manilla, Barraba, Warialda and Inverell.
Surveys from Tamworth through Uralla and Armidale were competed in 1876.
By the time the line reached Werris Creek in June 1877, it had come to notice that political pressure was being imposed on the Government to build the line north through Armidale, despite the steep rise over the Moonbi Range and the appearance of a better route via Manilla, through to Inverell and beyond to the border.
A public meeting was called at the Junction Hotel Manilla, (now The Post Office Hotel) in July 1877 to petition the Government to build the Great Northern Railway to Brisbane via Manilla and Inverell. Parliament nevertheless approved the Armidale route in May 1878 and the decision was made for the great Northern Railway to cross the Peel River and to proceed by way of Armidale to Queensland.
In 1896 a bill to build a railway from Tamworth to Manilla was passed in Parliament and tenders were called for the supply of 73,000 ironbark sleepers for the job.
Manilla Railway Buildings 1899
HISTORY of MANILLA N.S.W.