Welcome to Rail & Tram Rifle Club's history tour.
The Railway & Tramway Institute Rifle Club had it's origins back during 1910-1913. There were three rifle clubs in the Sydney Metropolitan Area with ties to the NSW Government Railways, they were, Workshops (Trades people), Loco (drivers & firemen) and Traffic (signals personal). These divisions of the Railways combined and formed the present Railway and Tramway Institute Rifle Club which is believed to have occurred in 1910 due to research conducted via the internet.
The first club Captain of the newly formed Rail & Tram club was F. P. Connelly who was a station master. The club's patron was Colonel Edmund O Milne who was the Deputy Chief Commissioner of Railways and Tramways and founder of the Railway and Tramway Institute Rifle Clubs Union. Members of the club comprised State Rail employees (formerly NSW Government Railways) and the NSW Tramways staff (State Transit Buses). It is believed that the Railway and Tramway Rifle Clubs Union was formed as a home guard during world war I as Railway and Tramway employees were seen as an essential service.
The Railway Institute comprised all sorts of sporting clubs, the rifle club being one of the oldest. During the course of time and the privatization of Government bodies and other large private companies e.g. B.H.P., Bradmill (Textiles), these clubs continued on their own and their only link now is in their name.
clubs were established in 1833 in Victoria for the encouragement of
rifle practice. Members were allowed to obtain rifles and ammunition at
reduced rates, and were given free railway travel for rifle
practice and matches. Shortly after inauguration, the clubs were
divided into six districts, and members in each district were required
to meet once a quarter for practice in field firing. An annual
allowance was made to the clubs for each effective marksman, the money
being devoted to the maintenance of ranges and purchase of ammunition.
In Sydney Rifle Clubs were established earlier than this date with the earliest dedicated rifles ranges in the Sydney area being Paddington Rifle Range between 1840 - 1890, Randwick Racecourse Rifle Range 1850's - 1860's, Randwick Rifle Range 1891 - 1923, Liverpool rifle range 1919 to 1967, Long Bay Rifle Range 1888 - to present. The New South Wales Rifle Association was formed in 1860 to promote rifle proficiency in the community and the Volunteer Corps.
The Anzac Rifle Range, Liverpool, New South Wales, Australia was built during world war I (1915-1918) by the use of Internees and prisoners of war, these internees also built the Railway line and a concrete rail bridge, to permit access to and from Liverpool to the rifle range.
The present Railway and Tramway Institute Rifle Club commenced shooting at the Liverpool complex and remained there until the completion of the 1967 Queens Prize (State Championships called either the Queens or Kings Prize depending on the Monarch ruling at the time) Shoot which was won by Mr. Fred Duncan from Victoria. The club then relocated to Anzac Rifle Range, Franklin Street, Malabar, as the Liverpool complex was to close. The first Queens at Malabar in 1968 was won by Mr. Keiran Kennedy.
From the commencement of use of the Anzac Rifle Range, Liverpool by rifle clubs the NSW Government Railways ran a special train which was given the nickname "The Bullet Train" by the shooters it would pick up shooters and convey them to the rifle range where they and the train crew would compete in the Saturday afternoon competitions. One of the train drivers Mr. Joe KIRKWOOD (an R & T member who is now deceased) recounted these memories of driving the train to and from the range and competing. He also showed with great pride the photographs of the train carrying the hundreds of rifle shooters on it's journeys to those interested.
Joe was an excellent shot and a good armourer of the .303 rifle and 7.62 rifle and was always willing to help new shooters in particular young people. Both Joe's sons shot, Jim KIRKWOOD was an Olympian, a state champion in both fullbore, smallbore rifle and pistol events and he is acknowledged in the New South Wales Sports Persons Hall of Fame at Homebush, unfortunately both Joe's sons predeceased him, Ian as a result of a motor cycle accident and Jim from cancer.
The Bullet train would leave Central Station and travel via Sydneham, Canterbury, via the goods track through Enfield marshalling yard to Regents Park, Liverpool then to the range where the passengers would disembark in the early morning. The crew which comprised rifle shooters attached to Loco would then take the train to Liverpool at midday to pick up rifle shooters who had worked or were unable to attend the morning session and return to the Range where the afternoon session of shooting would take place. At the completion of the day's shooting the train would be loaded with it's passengers and return to Central along the same route. The cost of a return trip was six pence (five cents) prior to world war II, shortly thereafter the cost was a shilling (12 pence or 10 cents) and included out metropolitan areas such as Wollongong. The Bullet Trains last trip to Anzac Rifle Range, Liverpool was the 25th of June 1960, the line into the rifle range was closed on the 21st of June 1977.
During World War II the site of the rifle range at Liverpool was used as an internment camp for people of German and Italian backgrounds. The records of the Railway and Tramway Institute Rifle Club prior to world war II were lost as these records were in the club house which was used to house these internees who in turn used the records which were paper to light fires to cook and keep warm.
Some of the other Railway Rifle Clubs within N.S.W. during the early 1900's (1910 - 50) were:-
Rail House Rifle Club,
Harden Railway Ambulance Rifle Club
Goulburn Railway and Ambulance Rifle Club.
Also of interest the first Olympic games to hold rifle shooting competition was in 1896 and the first Australian to win a badge at the Bisley Complex in England at a meeting called the London Olympics was Mr. Sid GREEN in 1904.
Photograph of the Bullet train in 1948 with Joe Kirkwood on left:-