John Whitton

John Whitton

John Whitton (born 1820 in Wakefield, Yorkshire, England - died 20 February 1898) was appointed Engineer-in-Charge for the New South Wales Railways, Australia, in January 1867. Over the next 32 years he completed 2811 miles of railway around NSW and Victoria. He is notable, in particular, for building the railway over the Blue Mountains, in particular the Great Zig Zag near Lithgow, and much of the Great Southern Line. There is a memorial to him on the Lapstone Zig Zag walking trail commemorating his substantial seven-span, sandstone, Knapsack Viaduct at Lapstone. The town of Whitton, New South Wales and the John Whitton Bridge in Meadowbank, New South Wales are named after him. It stands next to an earlier iron lattice railway bridge that was constructed under his direction along with eleven others in New South Wales.

Cheaper constructions

Whitton resisted as best that he could suggestions by politicians to build cheaper, such as horse drawn lines with wooden rails, or narrow gauge. Such changes would only save capital costs by increasing operating costs. Once the three main lines to the West, South and NorthWest were built, Whitton did however introduce so-called pioneer lines which were built to lower standards. It helped that these lines were in generally easier terrain than the three main lines. ["Lessons from History - The Contribution of John Whitton" Sharp, Stuart Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, January, 1999 pp19-27]


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