Saturday, September 24, 2011

John Whitton and the Lapstone Hill

In very long grass, just off the carpark at what is now the the end of the Great Western Highway at Emu Plains, is an obelisk of blue-grey stone dedicated to the memory of John Whitton (photos above) .

John Whitton was the "Father of the New South Wales Railways" being the Engineer-in-Chief from 1857-1890.

We had previously visited this monument in
August 1985 when the Great Western Highway
was the main road route up the Lapstone Hill. There is also the remains of a Gatehouse
Cottage (photo at right) nearby. It was burnt out in the fires of 1968.

Although today the monument is in a state of disrepair, it stands as a testament to engineering skills of John Whitton, and "In Memory of the Men who worked with Whitton" and to the "Women who Cared". The latter inscription is no longer extant on the monument and comes from notes that I took in 1985.

The monument was fittingly situated at the foot of the Lapstone Hill.

John Whitton oversaw the construction of the first railway over the Blue Mountains in the 1860's and it was the Lapstone incline that proved to be the first major obstacle. To overcome this Whitton designed the Knapsack Viaduct and the Lapstone Zig_Zag Railway. [See separate Blogs].

There is a statue of John Whitton at Central Railway in Sydney (Photo at right).

History Services NSW in its Government Contracts and Contractors database has many entries for railway contracts awarded by the NSW Government for the period 1832-1900.

Go the website at:

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