Lost Railways:
Warwick Farm Racecourse Branch Line

Jctn. (Warwick Farm) to Warwick Farm Racecourse. Length; 1.6 km. Opened: 2 Jun 1889. Closed: 19 Nov. 197. Re-opened: 17 Feb. 1979, Closed: 7 Dec 1991. Current statues: lifted.

The Warwick Farm Racecourse branch was a 1.6 km line from Warwick Farm to the nearby racecourse, owned by the Australian Jockey Club. The branch left the Main South line near Warwick Farm station. It then crossed Hume Highway at a level crossing before ending at the Racecourse station alongside Governor Macquarie Drive. The line had a 200m Horse Dock platform, and facilities for storing up to 8 trains. Race day special trains from North Sydney and the city were able to bring racegoers to the racecourse entrance. This 1.63 kilometre branch line was owned by the Australian Jockey Club and operated by CityRail and its predecessors. The Branch was closed in 1991. The platform as well as the gates on the racecourse boundary near where it crossed Hume Highway are all that remain of the line today. A free bus service now operates between the racecourse and the station is available on racedays.

History of Warwick Farm

In the early 1880s William Alexander Long bought J.H. Stroud's Warwick Park grant north of Liverpool. By 1884 he had also developed his property across the river, Chipping Norton, building stables and tracks. Long lived at Chipping Norton until 1901 when the banks foreclosed on him. His most successful horse Grand Flanneur won the Melbourne Cup in 1880. He sold the Warwick Park estate in 1882 to William Forrester, who changed to name to Warwick Farm to match his initials. He became one of the most successful trainers of his time and in 1889 he and Edwin Oatley were the principals in the formation of the Warwick Farm Racing Club. Forrester owned two Melbourne Cup winners, Gaulus in 1897 and The Grafter in 1898.

Forrester died almost destitute not long after his last winner The Watch Dog, won the Ellesmere Stakes at Randwick Racecourse in 1901. Early in the twentieth century Warwick Farm racecourse was owned by Edwin Oatley who died in 1920. His son, Cecil, was the Manager of the property for a number of years, until 1924. Another son, Percy, was Secretary of the Warwick Farm Racing Club from 1906 until 1914. During World War II, the racecourse was utilised as a camp by Australian, American and British armed forces. The camp was known as Camp Warwick and also HMS Golden Hind.

Allan Moffat leading Leo Geoghan at Warwick Farm Raceway

Warwick Farm Raceway was built in the same area in the 1950s. It became a major track in the 1960s and hosted major events such as the Australian Grand Prix, Australian Touring Car Championship and Tasman Series. It hosted the Australian Grand Prix on four occasions in 1963, 1967, 1970 and 1971. Warwick Farm was the venue for the finish of the London-Sydney Marathon. First place went to a Hillman Hunter crewed by Andrew Cowan, Colin Malkin and Brian Coyle.

In the early 1970s Warwick Farm Raceway hosted a round of the South Pacific Series for Production cars. The last major race at Warwick Farm was the final round of the 1973 Australian Touring Car Championship on 15 July and the circuit closed in August.

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