A shady waterhole . .
Originally known as Chidlow’s Well, the earliest official townsite to be declared within the Shire takes its name from a watering place first located and used by William Chidlow who came as a servant to Western Australia in 1831. The Blackbutt that shaded Chidlow’s Well became an overnight campsite for travellers to Northam from the mid 1830s.
. . not to be relied upon
Described as a ‘shallow waterhole dry in summer’, the original well was never a reliable source of water even when deepened and lined later. A second Chidlow’s Well was constructed by the 1880s.
. . becomes a boom town
Chidlow became a bustling little town in 1884 as the eastern terminus of the Eastern Railway with carts and wagons bringing in farm produce and sandalwood, teams of horses and bullocks and the gangs of navvies. The inn stayed open 24 hours a day.
. . and doesn’t go bust
Even when York became the eastern terminal, Chidlow (as it became known in 1920 due to local residents wanting to drop the word ‘Well’) remained an important stopping place on the line. Both passengers and the train could take refreshment here – from tearooms and water towers filled with water from the nearby railway reservoir (Lake Leschenaultia).
. . thanks to the train
Large numbers of railway employees and their families lived in the town. But the timber industry was equally important to Chidlow’s early growth and economy. Not only did the railways require timber in the form of sleepers, but they also made the area more accessible to timber cutters. And when the tall trees were depleted orchards flourished with produce railed to markets in Perth and to the goldfields.
. . now long gone
In 1966 the old line was closed when the standard gauge line through the Avon Valley opened. Lake Leschenaultia remains as a reminder of the area’s railway heritage and today is a popular recreation spot for locals and those from further afield.
A State Registered Place in Chidlow is Lake Leschenaultia.
Mosaic ref: 2005.211 and 2005.213
Photos below: Charcoal burners’ heap set ready for lighting in the Chidlow forest, 1940s and (bottom photo) logs and branches in the Chidlow forest piled up and covered with grass ready to be burnt down into charcoal.
Background Photo: Chidlow Railway Station with goods wagons and a passenger train standing at the platform. Mosaic ref: 2003.138
Scroll down to see the complete background photograph