The trouble with trikes on the old rail line around Kempsey

McNally family and friends on the way to tennis
McNally family and friends on the way to tennis

THREE-wheeled trikes were a feature on the sections of railway maintained by the fettlers and track inspectors. From 1905 the machines became increasingly motorised using small two-stroke engines.

The line between Kempsey and Wauchope and between Kempsey and Macksville had fettlers using the trikes, not all being trouble free.

One young child holidaying in Kempsey in 1918 decided to take a trip along the railway line but caught his foot in the cogs of the trike. His foot was badly lacerated, requiring 30 stitches.

Fettler Bill Hageman escaped death when he was run down by the North Coast mail while proceeding to Kempsey station. He escaped injury but his trike was demolished.

In a separate accident in 1944, he was severely injured when the handle of his trike broke and he overbalanced. He fell off the trike which subsequently ran over him.

Perhaps the most famous trip on a Sheffield trike was that taken By Dr Earle Page who left Kempsey in flood time in 1937. When he was blocked near Pine Creek he, along with five men, pulled a trike over hills and grades, eventually reaching Coffs Harbour 15 miles away.

During a routine track inspection, Messrs Appleby and Martin were nearing the Nambucca station on their motor tricycle.

On rounding a curve on a cutting they discovered a special train bearing down on them. Mr Martin jumped clear but Mr Appleby stopped the trike before jumping up the bank to escape injury.

The tricycle burst into flames. The wreckage was eventually cleared. The special train was 30 minutes ahead of its scheduled time.

Phil Ryan was also lucky while returning to Kempsey on his section from Kundabung.

A special train had passed but another was immediately behind and overtook him in a cutting. Mr Ryan had time to jump clear but his trike was smashed.

Alex Wells was overtaken by a train while riding on the line south of Kempsey. He was tossed 20 feet over a siding but fortunately was not seriously injured.

Not all tricycles were one-man vehicles. S Lorimer was on a six-man tricycle when he fell off near Kempsey.

Unluckily he was overtaken by a tricycle that ran over him. He sustained abrasions and lacerations and was taken by ambulance to the Kempsey Hospital.

Trikes were used to get from place to place with families using them to travel between sidings to go to social engagements.

- Macleay River Historical Society

Watch for more railway snippets leading up to the Kempsey Centenary of Rail on November 27. Copies of the photographs are available from the Macleay River Historical Society, phone 6562-7572.