The Goulburn Historic Waterworks is open for the public to enjoy, each Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and most school and public holidays. The 1883 Appleby Beam engine and the Hick, Hargreaves corliss valve steam engine are operated several times during the year. The Waterworks Museum portrays the story of Goulburn's early water supply from the first horse and cart bringing barrels of water to town, through the magnificent Appleby Bros. Beam Engine to the introduction of electric pumps. The Waterworks grounds are situated on the Wollondilly River and is an ideal rest stop for lunches and picnickers.
In 1957 Mr. Bruce Macdonald, a steam engineer from Sydney, who had known of the Appleby engine for some time, obtained permission from the Goulburn City Council, for its on-site restoration. This project, described by a previous commentator as a “weekend hobby”, was a monumental one and Bruce with his wife Dorothy and children must have spent long, hard working hours on every available weekend to bring it to fruition. In October 1958 the majestic Appleby Beam engine was demonstrated under steam for the first time in 40 years. There is little doubt that without Bruce’s dedication and skill, the engine and in all possibility, the buildings would have been lost to us in the ensuing years.
Around the nucleus of the beam engine a large collection of steam machinery grew over the next 10 years. In 1968 Goulburn City Council contracted Bruce on a full time basis as the curator – engineer and agreed to finance the expansion of the undertaking into a seven days per week operation. Bruce and his family lived in the Waterworks cottage, former Fireman’s resident, from 1968-1978. During 1969 the construction of a narrow gauge railway commenced and on the 4th of April 1970 “The Museum of Historic Engines” was officially opened, by Mr. R. Brewer M.L.A. Many locals recall fond memories of the museum from this time when they were transported to the museum from the entrance, off Fitzroy St, in carriages pulled by a steam locomotive driven by Bruce Macdonald.
The 1970s & 1980s
The site functioned as “The Museum of Historic Engines” until January 1974, when the Council withdrew their direct patronage and the museum closed. In April of that year the museum and railway reopened as the “Goulburn Steam Museum”, with Bruce Macdonald as manager. Lack of patronage, increasing maintenance and restoration costs, forced the museum to rationalize its operation and plans for expansion of the museum and railway to be abandoned. The most ambitious expansion was the “Goulburn Historical Park” project which proposed to construct a narrow gauge railway track along the banks of the Wollondilly River linking the Waterworks with the National Trust property “Riversdale”. Further down the track on the northern side of Goulburn Correctional Centre and adjacent to the Crookwell Railway a series of exhibitions, a restaurants, retail shops and a train terminus was planned. The project was based on the “Sovereign Hill” concept which was very popular at the time in Victoria. Unfortunately, plans were shelved in 1974.
During these difficult times many on loan exhibits were returned to their owners, while locomotives in excess of the museums needs or requiring considerable alterations and restoration were sold. After more than 20 years of involvement Mr. Macdonald retired from his position at the museum in 1978.
Mr. Bruce Krylott took over as curator of the “Goulburn Steam Museum” in 1978. Financial and maintenance problems continued and in 1979 the museums only remaining locomotive, the Krauss Stella, had to be removed from service, (it was later sold for $500), when the annual boiler inspection revealed that it would require heavy overhaul. The railway continued to operate with a hired locomotive and at this time a policy of diversifying into smaller displays met with some initial success.
During the early 1990s an organisation known as "TAVRA" (The Traction & Vehicles Restorers Assoc) leased the site. This lease expired in 1998 and was not renewed. Soon after the Appleby engine, Hick Hargreaves engine and vertical boiler were “moth balled” by Mr. Graham Clegg of the Power House Museum forcing the museum to once again close.
In 1996 Goulburn City Council had began looking into the future of the museum, the “Steam Museum Management Committee” was formed “To develop and promote the Goulburn Steam Museum as a premier tourist attraction”. In May 1998 the “Draft Plan Of Management, Marsden Weir Park Land including Goulburn Waterworks and Goulburn Steam Museum ” was prepared.
History has a tendency to repeat itself and in 1999 with, once again, invaluable and sustained input by Bruce and Dorothy Macdonald (41 years after they first restored the Appleby Engine), work was commenced in preparation for reopening the site as the “Goulburn Historic Waterworks”. Hard work by Goulburn City Council employees, headed by Mr. Tim Geyer, the MacDonalds and a small group of volunteers, with support from Graham Clegg, Powerhouse Museum, saw many improvements to the site. The museum has been open and steaming regularly since 2000. Public comment has been both positive and enthusiastic and while many have enjoyed the growing collection of historic photographs, documents and exhibits, all agree that a beam engine in steam is a sight not to be missed.
The Waterworks continues to be managed by a small group of dedicated volunteers with assistance from Goulburn Mulwaree Council who provide financial and human resources.
Wilson, W. R., Goulburn’s Historic Waterworks (unpublished document)
Wyatt R. T., The History of Goulburn
Oberg L., Your Guide to the Museum of Historic Engines Goulburn NSW.
Larcombe F. A., The Stabilisation of Local Government in NSW 1858 to 1906.
Haviland, O., A Presentation of the Project of the Goulburn Historical Park
Sydney University Free 1976 ISBN 0 424 00001 6
Water supply and sewerage page 204 to 211
Goulburn Penny Post
Sydney Morning Herald