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Agency VA 2877
Department of Railways I
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Date Range: 1858 - 1871
 
Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency
Formation of Department of Railways I 1858

The first Department of Railways emerged in January 1858, subject to the statutory control of the Board of Land and Works (VA 744). Prior to this, railways matters, which essentially involved the survey of proposed lines of railway, were administered by a Railways Branch of the Surveyor-General's Department (VA 2921) which from November 1857 became a Branch of the Department of Crown Lands and Survey (VA 538).

The establishment of a Department of Railways reflected the Government's increased responsibility under legislation for the co-ordination and development of the State's railways.

Functions

In particular the Main Trunk Line Act 1857 (21 Vic., No.35) authorized the State to construct main trunk lines of railway from Melbourne to the Murray River and from Geelong to Ballarat. The Railway Loan Act 1857 (21 Vic., No.36) authorized the raising of money by debentures for the construction of certain railways. The Railway Act 1857 (21 Vic., No.38) provided for the general construction of railways within the State. The Railway Supervision Act 1857 (21 Vic., No.40) authorized the State's Railway Authority to inspect and supervise the operations of railway companies for the protection of railway passengers.

Also, in the Acts incorporating the various joint stock railway companies provision was made for the Government to purchase the rights and property of the company after a certain time period.

Role of Board of Land and Works (VA 744)

Although the legislation vested the Board of Land and Works (VA 744) with responsibility for administering the State's railways, functional responsibility effectively rested with the Department of Railways. The Board of Land and Works' statutory responsibility involved deciding matters of dispute and policy matters, making regulations, and generally authorizing the business and finances of the Department.

When the Board of Land and Works met to determine railway matters the Vice-President of the Board presided. Initially there was only one Vice-President who was also the Commissioner of Public Works. However on 23 January 1862, the Commissioner of Railways and Roads was appointed as a second Vice-President of the Board, and thereafter presided over railway matters.

Ministerial Responsibility

Likewise, the Commissioner of Public Works was the Minister responsible for railway matters until the Commissioners of Railways, and later, Commissioners of Railways and Roads were subsequently appointed. By 1870 the Government had purchased most of the railway companies and vested responsibility for their rights and property with the Board and hence the Department.

Emergence of Combined Department of Railways and Roads 1871

Although there had been a Commissioner of Railways and Roads since December 1861 it is evident that a combined Department of Railways and Roads did not exist until circa April 1871. The Department of Railways and Roads (VA 2875) assumed all functions previously undertaken by the Department of Railways 1.

Location of Records

See List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, section 3.21.0.

 
More Research resourcesMore Research resources
    PROVguide062 Public Transport - Railways
Record series created by this AgencyRecord series created by this Agency
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Date Range Series Title Series Number Series Location Public Access
? 1854 - ? 1920 Correspondence and Administration Records (Engineer in Chief and Existing Lines Branches) VPRS 418 North Melbourne Open
? 1858 - ? 1859 Outward Letter Book VPRS 12599 North Melbourne Open
? 1858 - ? 1977 Outward Letter Books VPRS 431 North Melbourne Open
? 1867 - ? 1870 Attendance Book VPRS 12406 North Melbourne Open
? 1867 - ? 1956 Index to Inward Correspondence VPRS 427 North Melbourne Open
1853 - ? 1984 General Ledger VPRS 12781 North Melbourne Open
1853 - 1982 General Journal VPRS 12780 North Melbourne Open
1858 - ? 1931 Contract Files, Construction of Railway Lines, Associated Buildings, Structures and Facilities, Manufacture and Delivery of Locomotives, Electrification of Suburban Lines VPRS 17077 North Melbourne Open
1858 - 1953 Staff Record Book, Accounts Branch VPRS 12555 North Melbourne Open
1859 - ? 1942 Register of Inward Correspondence VPRS 429 North Melbourne Open
1859 - 1904 Inwards Correspondence Minute Books, Engineer In Chief VPRS 423 North Melbourne Open
By 1858 - 1871 Subject Index to Secretary's Inward Corespondence, Annual Single Number System VPRS 12601 North Melbourne Open
By 1859 - ? 1980 Inward Registered Correspondence, Annual Single Number System VPRS 425 North Melbourne Open
By 1859 - 1871 Secretary's Inward Correspondence Register, Annual Single Number System I VPRS 422 North Melbourne Open
By 1859 - 1871 Name Index to Secretary's Inward Registered Correspondence Files, Annual Single Number System VPRS 12600 North Melbourne Open
By 1859 - 1985 Secretary's Inward Registered Correspondence, Annual Single Number System VPRS 421 North Melbourne Part Open
By 1868 - ? 1870 Newspaper Cutting Book VPRS 1147 North Melbourne Open
Circa 1860 - 1861 Correspondence re The Queen v Cornish and Bruce VPRS 12407 North Melbourne Open
Circa 1860 - Circa 1955 'Notice to Treat' Plans VPRS 12400 North Melbourne Open
Circa 1865 - 1876 Building Applications Register VPRS 12408 North Melbourne Open
Functions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibility
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Date of Responsibility Function Title Function Number
1858 - cont Survey of railway lines VF 477
- 1871 Railway companies, private, supervision of VF 465
- 1871 Railway survey, construction and management VF 467
Functions for which this Agency has or has had secondary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had secondary responsibility
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Date of Responsibility Function Title Function Number
Superior AgenciesSuperior Agencies
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Date of Relationship Agency Title Agency Number
1858 - 1871 Board of Land and Works VA 744
Subordinate AgenciesSubordinate Agencies
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Date of Relationship Agency Title Agency Number
Related AgenciesRelated Agencies
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Date of Relationship Agency Title Agency Number
Groups containing this AgencyGroups containing this Agency
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Date of Relationship Group Title Group Number
1858 - 1860 Public Works VRG 28
1860 - 1871 Railways VRG 32
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