Midland Railway of Western Australia

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This article is about the former Western Australian railway company. For the railway line it built, see Midland railway line, Western Australia.
Midland Railway Company of Western Australia
Industry Railway operator
Fate purchased by Western Australian Government Railways
Founded 21 March 1890
Defunct 31 July 1964
Headquarters London
Area served
Western Australia
Number of employees
472 (1963)

The Midland Railway of Western Australia (MRWA) was a railway company that built and operated the Midland line in Western Australia. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange. Although having its headquarters in London, it had no association with the English Midland Railway.


Map of the Midland line
A26 at Gingin in 1943
C16 at Midland Junction in 1949
D19 at Arrino in May 1943
Preserved E30 at the Western Australian Rail Transport Museum, Bassendean in November 2014
G51 in Westrail livery at Manjimup in 1986

In December 1883, John Waddington representing a sydndicate of English capitalists, proposed to Governor Broome to build a line from York via Northam, Newcastle, Bejoording, New Norcia and along the Berkshire Valley to Geraldton under a land grant scheme. A parliamentary select committee recommended the route be altered to branch off from the Eastern Railway at Guildford and run via Chittering, Bindoon, Victoria Plains, Carnamah, Arrino, Upper Irwin and Dongara to Walkaway where it would join the Western Australian Government Railway’s line from Geraldton. The agreement was signed on 27 February 1886, with work commencing a few days later.[1][2]

Under the land grant scheme, 12,000 acres (4,900 ha) of land was granted for every mile of railway completed, a total of 3,319,000 acres (1,343,000 ha). The consortium was able to select land within 40 miles (64 km) of the new railway. Financing problems delayed construction with construction being suspended in June 1887. The Government tried to rescind the contract, but could not as the consortium had until 1890 to complete the first 160 kilometres of the line.[1][2][3][4]

On 21 March 1890, the Midland Railway Company of Western Australia was floated on the London Stock Exchange and Herbert Bond purchased John Waddington's shareholding in the consortium and work recommenced on the 446 kilometre line from both ends.[1]

The first section from Midland Junction to Gingin opened on 9 April 1891, followed by Walkaway to Mingenew on 16 August 1991. The rest of the line opened in stages until the two sections met on 1 November 1894.[1][5]

Between 1905 and 1918, the company actively pursued a scheme of land classification and settlement led by land agent and politician James Gardiner. The first subdivision was auctioned at Moora on 22 June 1906.[4] By 1911, 16 subdivisions between Midland Junction and Dongara had been classified and auctioned. In 1910, Gardiner instigated and managed the Ready Made Farms Scheme, which provided cleared and fenced farms with houses to prospective settlers.[5] The townsites of Coorow, Winchester and Carnamah formed the backbone of the scheme. The scheme was advertised widely to British citizens and was moderately successful, with 35 of the 58 farms sold by the end of 1915.[6]

In 1915, the Western Australian Government Railways opened the parallel, but longer Northern Railway route about 50 kilometres further east via Wongan Hills and Mullewa.[6]

Between 1914 and 1917, business declined rapidly and the company operated at a loss. This was brought on by decreased revenue owing to the construction of the Northern Railway (which captured railway traffic from the Midland Railway), crop losses due to drought, the loss of men from districts owing to World War I, and the imposition of new federal taxes. In 1918, the scheme was wound up.[7]

In 1922, the MRWA made the first of a number of proposals for the Western Australian Government Railways to purchase it. In December 1962 with much of the track and rolling stock in need of replacement, the company entered negotiations for the WAGR to purchase the business. This was concluded in December 1963, with the sale effective 1 August 1964.[6][7]

Passenger service[edit]

Up until it cessation, a weekly passenger service operated over the line.[6][8]

Road Service Department[edit]

In 1946, the Midland Railway Company began operating a bus service between Perth and Geraldton. Buses to conduct wildflower tours. In 1948, it began operating Wildflower Study Tours from Perth and along roads to and from Geraldton through the northern wheatbelt. Also in 1948, it began operating truck services. By 1962, seven road coaches, six trucks and two prime movers were operated.[6]


The Midland Railway established its workshops and headquarters at Midland Junction. Later on, in 1904, the WAGR relocated their workshops from its overcrowded site at Fremantle to Midland also.

The site of the Midland Railway Company Workshops (a different and separate workshops north west and the other side of the main rail corridor from the Midland Railway Workshops and marshalling yard (which actually worked across the Great Eastern Highway next to the town Post Office) is now the location of the Centrepoint shopping centre and its car-park.

Rolling stock[edit]

At the time of the sale, the MRWA operated nine diesel locomotives, 10 passenger carriages and 602 freight wagons.[6]

Steam locomotives[edit]

The MRWA operated nine A, nine B, five C and two D class locomotives. All were withdrawn from service in the 1950s.[1]

B6 was placed on a plinth in a park in Geraldton as a display, but in 2000, was removed due to poor condition and road transported to Midland Railway Workshops for possible restoration by members of Rail Heritage WA. However, the group could not proceed with the work required, and were required to vacate the workshops site to allow the site to be redeveloped, with B6 moving to the Western Australian Rail Transport Museum, Bassendean. It has since moved to Walkaway.

Diesel locomotives[edit]

In 1957, MRWA took delivery of its first diesel powered locomotive in the form of diesel mechanical shunting unit E30. A year later the first of seven F class mainline diesel electric units entered service. In 1963, two G class were delivered but due to their axle loading were restricted to working between Midland Junction and Watheroo.[1]



In 2002, the name was revived by South Spur Rail Services for a restaurant train business that ran the Spirit of the West for a number of years.[11][12]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f Gunzburg, Adrian (1989). The Midland Railway Company Locomotives of Western Australia. Surrey Hills: Light Railway Research Society of Australia. pp. 7–10, 13, 49, 54. ISBN 0 9093402 77. 
  2. ^ a b Midland Railway Company Battye Library
  3. ^ The Midland Railway of Australia Western Mail 3 October 1891
  4. ^ Royal Commission into the Management, Workings & Control of the Western Australian Government Railways Government of Western Australia December 1947 page 8
  5. ^ The Midland Railway: Its Jubilee Year The West Australian 31 October 1936
  6. ^ a b c d e Affleck, Fred (1978). On Track: The making of Westrail 1950 - 1976. Perth: Western Australian Railways Commission. pp. 73–85. ISBN 0 7244 7560 5. 
  7. ^ The Midland Railway Company of Western Australia Limited Acquisition Agreement Act 1963 Government of Western Australia
  8. ^ Midland Railway Carnamah Historical Society & Museum
  9. ^ B6 Australian Steam
  10. ^ G Class Hotham Valley Railway
  11. ^ Midland Railway Company Pty Ltd Australian Securities & Investments Commission extract
  12. ^ Application for Declaration of the Tasmanian Rail Network South Spur Rail Services 1 June 2007
  1. ‘Midland Railway Company’, in J.S. Battye, Cyclopedia of Western Australia, p. 474.
  2. Appleyard R.T. 1981, ‘Western Australia: Economic and demographic growth 1850-1914’, in C.T. Stannage (ed.), A New History of Western Australia, Nedlands: UWA Press, p. 216.
  3. The Midland Railway Company of Western Australia Ltd, London, 1914, MN239/2, PR4983/23: Battye Library.
  4. Midland Railway Co., 1914.
  5. Dornan G. n.d., ‘The Early History of the Midland Railway Company’, unpub. thesis; Battye Library.
  6. Dornan G. n.d., ‘The Early History of the Midland Railway Company’, unpub. thesis; Battye Library.
  7. Midland Railway Co., London, Minute Book No. 8, p. 201, MN239/1, 1558A/3-8: Battye Library.


  • Gardiner, David (2001) "James Gardiner: Politics, Cricket and Land Sales", Early Days, 12 (1), pp. 47–59
  • Searle, M.J. (1984) "A Short History of the Midland Railway Co." : Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin January 1984

External links[edit]