Department of Railways and Roads

Public Record Office Victoria
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Formation of Department of Railways and Roads 1871

Although a Commissioner of Railways and Roads had been appointed on 30 December 1861, railways, roads and bridges were dealt with by separate Departments, both under the authority of the Board of Land and Works (VA 744) until 26 April 1871. On this date John Steavenson, who was the Assistant Commissioner of Roads and Bridges, was also appointed to the position of Secretary to the Railways Department and henceforth the two Departments appear to have been jointly administered.


From the Department of Railways (VA 2877), the Department of Railways and Roads assumed responsibility for:

railway construction and maintenance
supervision of railway companies
survey of proposed lines of railway.

From the Department of Roads and Bridges (VA 2964) the new Department assumed responsibility for the construction and maintenance of main roads and bridges. Local roads continued to be the responsibility of road districts, shires and boroughs (see VRG 12 Municipalities).

During the period of combined administration, the Board of Land and Works continued to exercise its responsibility for authorising the business of the Department and for determining policy and regulations.

In 1872 the Department began to build and repair rolling stock.

Split of Railways and Roads Functions

On 1 September 1877 the Governor-in-Council severed the administration of matters relating to roads and bridges from the Department of Railways and Roads. Railways matters were subsequently assumed by a new Department of Railways II (VA 2965) and roads and bridges matters passed to a Roads and Bridges Branch operating within the Public Works Department (VA 669).

Location of Records

See List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, section 3.19.1 (roads) and 3.21.0 (railways).

141,-34 142.91934,-34.1456 144.58213,-35.65923 147.74263,-35.87318 150.02422,-37.52904 150.2,-39.2 141,-39.2 141,-34


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Other Information
  • Local : VA 2875