Text : Chris Chardon
Images: MLDHS and as described
THE MOUNT LOFTY RAILWAY STATION
The Mount Lofty Railway Station was originally named the Crafers Summit Railway Station. The Act of Parliament, to provide a line of railway from Adelaide to Nairne, was assented to on 30th November 1878. Below is a copy of the front page of the Act:-
The Act provided for the railway, but it did not include details such as the naming of stations. This seemed to be left to the Commissioner of Public Works department officers, but why Crafers Summit?
With the knowledge of the impending construction of the railway line to the Hills and beyond, developers began sub-dividing the area around the proposed railway station. Some of these sub-divisions had Crafers in their names – but in the early 1880s the area around the station had not been officially named.
An 1883 diagram showing land sections near the Mount Lofty Railway Station area with Crafers in their name. The subdivisions and their approximate locations were:- The Township of Crafers Summit (pink), Crafers Park (two subdivisions in Avenue Road, yellow), Crafers Vale Estate (green) and later Crafers Springs (blue).
Once the Act was passed, action to construct the railway was quickly taken. In 1879 the Government was referring to the Crafers Summit Station:-
“Adelaide and Nairne Railway- The Government do not appear to have lost any time in seeking to carry out the wishes of Parliament …The line from Adelaide to Crafers Summit, near Mount Lofty, will be let in the first contract, and from Crafers to Nairne will in all probability form another and independent contract.”1
Another example of the uncertainty of the naming of the area appeared in early 1882 – the Congregational Church in Orley Avenue, was at Crafers.
“Crafers Congregational Church.— A new Congregational Church was opened at Crafers on Sunday, January 8, when services were conducted by the Rev. F. Searle, of College Park. The attendance was encouraging, and the new church, we are told, promises to be a success. It is situated in a central position between the main coach road and the Crafers Summit Station.”2
As late as September 1882, the District Council of Echunga, the then local government body responsible for the district, was referring to the Crafers Summit Station:-
“Meeting at Crafers Ward. — A public meeting of the ratepayers in Crafers Ward, Echunga District, was held in the Assembly room, Halfway House, Mount Barker-road, on Tuesday evening, September 5, Mr. R. J. Burnett in the chair. The meeting had been convened for the purpose of advocating the matter of placing the road leading from Crafers Summit Station direct to the main Mount Barker-road on the schedule of main roads.”3
Mount Lofty Railway Station c. 1890 (MLDHS Ref. 413-3).
Although most of the land sub-divisions surrounding the railway station were named Crafers, the area and station took on the name Mount Lofty. But why?
In the late 1870s the wealthy from Adelaide were building their large summer houses in the area. Before the station opened in 1883, moves were afoot to change the name Crafers to Mount Lofty. Perhaps these residents saw the name Mount Lofty as being more prestigious. It is unclear why the name Crafers was so undesired. If a general name for the area was sought, then why not Crafers? Why Mount Lofty, considering the actual Mount Lofty was a few kilometres away – why not Stirling?
An advertisement promoting the sale of allotments in the Fern Hill sub-division (in the area of what is now The Crescent) may provide some answers. Part of the advertisement read:-
“TUESDAY, October 17, at 2 o’clock, AT THE TOWN HALL, ADELAIDE. FERN HILL PART SECTION 2797. NEAR CRAFERS RAILWAY STATION AND ON THE MOUNT BARKER-ROAD.
THE HIGHEST and coolest Station on the Adelaide and Nairne Railway, which is now rapidly approaching completion. An attempt is being made to have the name altered from Crafers to Mount Lofty, chiefly on account of the pleasurable associations and worldwide celebrity of that cool and delightful summer resort which is close by.
CRAFERS STATION This may be fairly described as the Station par excellence, and the Elysium of the Hills. It is the nearest point of the railway to Mount Lofty. It is the highest altitude attained in the whole length of the line, being nearly seventeen hundred feet above the level of the sea. Although further by railway, it is only twelve miles by road from the City of Adelaide, and therefore residents here will have the opportunity either of driving in and out with their own conveyance or making the journey by rail.”4
It seems that naming the area Mount Lofty was not an official place name but, by general use, it became the accepted name. In October 1882 it was announced that the railway station name would be Mount Lofty Station.
“In reply to a deputation to-day, the Commissioner of Public Works promised to alter the name of the Crafers Summit Station to Mount Lofty Station.”5
In February 1879 reference was made to a railway station proposed as Stirling East. Part of the District Council of Echunga’s January meeting minutes read:-
“Mr. Grimes was informed that until definitely known where proposed Stirling East Railway station is to be built new road would not be made” (sic)6
The advertisement shown below suggests that the Aldgate Railway Station nearly became the Stirling East Station:-
- The South Australian Register, Saturday 4th January 1879
- South Australian Register, Adelaide, Friday 13 January 1882
- South Australian Register, Adelaide, Thursday 7 September 1882
- South Australian Register, Thursday 5 October 1882
- Argus, Melbourne, Vic. Thursday 26 October 1882
- South Australian Register, Adelaide, Saturday 8 February 1879
- The Mount Barker Courier & Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser, Friday 7 April 1882
Do you have memories of this area, the Railway Station and the community it served? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop into the History Centre at the Coventry Library, 63 Mount Barker Road, Stirling.