Geelong and Melbourne Railway Company employees

If you are researching someone who worked for the Geelong and Melbourne Railway Company you will discover that it isn’t easy to find lists of employees.

Why is it difficult to find a list of employees?  The Geelong and Melbourne Railway Company was a private company formed in 1853.  Alexander Thomson, the first mayor of Geelong, was one of the directors of the Company.  As a private company employees do not appear on the traditional lists of employees we can find for the Victorian Railways.

We have been able to compile a list of some of the employees thanks to the expert knowledge of Michael Menzies on the subject.  As well as his involvement with various Railway groups in Victoria, Michael is the President of the Geelong Family History Group and has provided details on Victorian Railway employees to the VAFHO website resources.  (VAFHO is the Victorian Association of Family History Organisations).

The clue to finding the names of these employees lies in the purchase of the Geelong and Melbourne Railway Company by the government.  On 1 Sep 1860 the Victorian Railways took over the private company including its employees.  The Victorian Railways Report of the Board of Land and Works, November 1862 included lists of contractors and lists of Staff of the Secretary’s Office and Traffic Branch.

Two newspaper articles in the Geelong Advertiser summarise the months of negotiations leading up to the Victorian Railway purchase:

The deed for the transfer of the Geelong and Melbourne Railway to Government is to be signed on Saturday (to-morrow) [1 Sep 1860], and the property formally taken possession of by Government on Monday [3 Sep 1860].  The precise day on which shareholders will be paid is not yet announced, but it will probably be about 5th September.  The mode of payment will simply be by presenting the share scrip at certain banks to be named where it will be cashed like a cheque.  The amount of accrued interest to 5th September is £2 7s on each share, so that on every share £22 7s will be paid.


The second article appeared on the Monday 3 Sep 1860:

From this day the trains on the Geelong and Melbourne Railway run under the Government auspices.  There is no alteration in the number of trains, and the hours remain exactly as before.  A sweeping reduction is made in the fares.  The first class fare is reduced from 12s 6d to 7s; second class is reduced from 10s to 4s.  First class return ticket is reduced from 21s to 10s 6d; second class return from 16s to 6s; the third class is discontinued.  There will be two trains each way on Sunday, i.3. one each way morning and evening.  Cheap as these new fares are, the steamer Citizen’s fares are still cheaper, and many persons in these economical times will still continue to prefer the steamer, the fares being – saloon, 5s; fore cabin, 2s 6d; return saloon tickets, 8s; return fore cabin tickets, 4s.



This image of the steamer Citizen is probably in Corio Bay as it shows the You Yangs in the background.

The cheapest return fare on the steamer was 4 shillings compared to 6 shillings on the train.  The train would have been a faster journey and probably more comfortable but for some the cheaper fare would have been a drawcard.






Here is the list of employees in that Report whose ‘Date of Appointment’ was 1 Sep 1860.  These were potentially employees of the Geelong and Melbourne Railway Company who were taken over by Victorian Railways.  Most are located in places that would have been on the Geelong to Melbourne line, however a couple outside of that area may have been promotions or transfers of Geelong and Melbourne Railway Company employees to new positions.  As they would have had the experience needed for new lines being built to Ballarat and Bendigo, they would have been logical appointments.

Station Name Salary – Annual Salary – Per Diem Position
Melbourne (Goods Station) BRUCE, James £300 Clerks
Duck Ponds (Lara) McELWEE, William *** £150 Station Masters
Geelong (Passenger Station) CADWALLADER, W £275 Station Masters
HACKETT, William £ 0.9.0 Porters
BOND, J £ 0.8.0 Porters
HIGGINS, Alfred £ 0.8.0 Porters
CHAPMAN, Isaac £ 0.8.0 Porters
Geelong (Goods Station) TRINDER, C £ 0.8.0 Porters
HANDS, E £ 0.8.0 Porters
CAHILL, T £ 0.8.0 Pointsmen and Watchmen
Geelong Junction (Newport) MOORE, Frederick £ 0.8.0 Pointsmen and Watchmen
Little River KEOGH, John £150 Station Masters
Sandhurst BARTER, H M £200 Station Masters
Werribee SHEEN, Robert £ 0.8.0 Pointsmen and Watchmen
Geelong West SCOTT, B T £150 Station Masters
ADAM, Henry £ 0.8.0 Porters
GULLICK, W £ 0.8.0 Pointsmen and Watchmen
Woodend (Goods Station) ANDERSON, John £200 Clerks
Guards WRIGHT, H £ 0.10.0 Guards and Ticket Collectors
UPTON, M £ 0.10.0 Guards and Ticket Collectors
WISEMAN, F £ 0.8.0 Guards and Ticket Collectors
Gatekeepers (Main Line) DUIGAN, J £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
Gatekeepers M. G. & B Line (Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat) BROOKS, Z £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
McLEAN, J £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
ADAM, H £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
MOLESDALE, W £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
RUSSELL, T £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
LEIHAN, M £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
STEWART, P £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
McLEAN, N £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
ANDERSON, J £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
ANDERSON, R £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
DICKSON, G £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
CAIRNS, C £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
KEOGH, J F £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
TREVES, Ann £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
HOPPER, E £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
BLACKLER, E £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
ASHTON, A £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
MADDOX, E £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers
ADAMS, R £ 0.5.0 Gatekeepers


If any of the people in this list were your ancestors or families of interest, we would love to get more details on them – just comment on this blog or use the Contact Us form.

*** – Corrected from McELNEE to McELWEE – see Comment / Response below.

The complete report has been scanned and is fully text searchable.  There are more than 500 employees listed in this report together with contractors and other fascinating details on the activities of the early Victorian Railways to 1862.  The Report can be downloaded together with any of the other files relating to Railway employees – just follow the links on the VAFHO website for Railway Resources.

Two more images of the Geelong Railway Station and the Geelong Goods Shed – c.1870-1880










Images: State Library of Victoria – FL15961039, FL16016062, FL15680551, FL15679666

Newspaper articles: Trove – Geelong Advertiser 31 Aug 1860 p.3, 3 Sep 1860 p.2

Currency: £ s d – Pounds, shillings and pence.  £1 = $2; 5s. = 50 cents; 5d = 5 cents

10 Responses

  1. Penny Mercer

    McELNEE, William was really William McElwee. He was sponsored as an assisted immigrant by his sister, Sarah Jane McElwee in 1856 and arrived in July 1857. He married Emily Elizabeth Goodall at Lake View House, New Town Hill in Geelong in April 1859. William worked at Lancefield Road, Sunbury and Gisborne and was a Deputy Registrar and postmaster as well. He died 18 June 1882.

    • Michael Menzies

      Hi Penny, Thanks for that correction and details. Do you have any information regarding the dates that he was at Lancefield Road, Sunbury and Gisborne?

  2. Chrissy Stancliffe

    Hi. We are interested in the W Molesdale/Moulsdale listed as a gate keeper. Is it possible to get more information on him? He may be one of my husbands family.

  3. Robert Carlisle


    I am doing some research on Victorian Railways Gate keepers

    Do you have lists in the South Western District listing all gate keepers and their gates

    Kind regards

    Robert Carlisle

    • admin

      Unfortunately no. I believe you may find that information in the numerous manuscripts / registers held at the Public Record Office Victoria

  4. Roxanne OSullivan

    Hello, I am very interested in any details on Benjamin Barnes early railway bridge builder as he is a distant ancestors.
    Regards Roxanne OSullivan.

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