Joseph Arthur Robley and his son Harold Horace Stanton Robley: Life on the Railways.

Joseph Arthur Robley ("Horrie").

Joseph Arthur Robley, the son of Joseph William Robley and Sarah Hayes York was born in Mutton Falls, Tarana in December 1877. Known to the family as 'Horrie' he was the eldest of their ten children. He spent his early years at Rydal.

As a lad he was brought up in the bush and was rated an excellent shot with a rifle .On leaving school he was employed by the New South Wales Government Railways and was posted to various places in the Lithgow/ Bathurst area. In 1909 he was a morse code operator still attached to the Railways Department at Wallerawang.

When he was 22 he married Edith Stanton the daughter of Alfred Stanton and his wife, Zillah Partridge. They were married in the Lithgow Methodist Church in September 1899.

The couple had two children. The first, a girl was stillborn and the second, a boy, they named Harold Horace Stanton Robley. Edith spent a lot of time with her parents, loneliness was part and parcel of a railway life!

Horrie started drinking and became an alcoholic. Edith left him and with Harold went to Newtown to live with her parents. She divorced Horrie. As his drinking became worse, he lost his job and had delirium tremens. Gradually he won the fight against alcohol and went to live in Queensland.

Son, Harold, met with his father in Queensland and persuaded him to return to Newtown and see Edith. This he did and they remarried in April 1916 at St. Stephen's Church of England, Newtown. With the help of his friends he won back his old job with the Railways and worked hard for promotion. When he retired he headed the Tourist Division with an Office in Challis House, Martin Place Sydney.

Horrie died in September 1941 in Perth, Western Australia after making a trip with his wife Edie. Returning home, on boarding the train, he dropped his head to the table and died. His body was later returned to Sydney by sea in a crate marked Antiques to avoid the superstitions of sailors about carrying dead bodies on board. He is buried in Woronora Cemetery, NSW.

Joseph Arthur & Edith were buried together in Plot 1199, Woronora Cemetery. Joseph's date of death is given as 13 Sept 1941 & Edith's as 6 Jun 1948.

Harold Horace Stanton Robley, the son of Joseph Arthur Robley and Edith Stanton was born at Lithgow in September 1902. Harold spent a lot of time with his mother's family in Sydney with his mother. Following Joseph becoming an alcoholic, the divorce and Joseph's move to Queensland, Harold went in search of his father, found him and persuaded him to return home and become reconciled with his mother. His father and mother remarried. This was quite an achievement for 14 year old Harold! Harold followed his father's footsteps and joined the Railways Department as a porter.

In 1925 he married Stella Fitzhugh, the daughter of Henry Alfred Fitzhugh and Priscilla Mary Missingham at St Stephen's Church, Newtown. Keen for advancement he sat for examinations and became a Block Signalman. Together with Stella they moved to Coledale.

Previously spelt Coaldale, the name refers to the coal deposits in the area. In 1902 a new railway platform, incorporating a post and telegraph office, was opened and called Coledale. This was the first appearance of the name Coledale. In 1903 a new mine was opened at North Bulli, later known as Coledale, and a township was laid out.

Their first child, a girl, Norma was born in 1925. Further promotion saw them move to Newnes Junction, a lonely isolated little station between Mt. Victoria and Lithgow and a compulsory stop for trains to take on water. There was a tiny station and two railway cottages! At Newnes, baby Norma became ill and Stella took her back to Sydney. It was a full eight months before Harold could secure a transfer to join her.

Now Harold's health was causing concern, a severe bout of pleurisy and pneumonia almost cost him his life. A son, Maxwell Harold was born in 1828.

Stella again left Harold and went to live with her sister at Stanmore. A court order forced her return to Harold and a third child, Helen was born in April 1933.

In the suit for restitution of conjugal rights brought by Harold Horace Stanton Robley against Stella Robley formerly Fitzhugh, His Honour found that the wife had withdrawn from cohabitation without just cause and ordered her to return to her husband. The issue of cruelty raised by her was dismissed.

Harold was promoted to Third Class officer at Goulburn. Again, the family separated. Stella remained in Sydney. By now it is pretty clear that the relationship could not handle the frequent moves! Harold was away from home for six days each week. This continued for two years until Harold was moved to Kempsey.

Another parting occurred when Norma developed Rheumatic fever and Stella took her to Sydney for treatment. It was six months before Harold secured a transfer to join them. A further promotion saw Harold transferred to Parkes and another separation. Eventually Harold gave up on promotions and returned to Sydney and joined the Relief Staff.

In 1941 Harold enlisted in the Army as a Group 2 Operator. He was to Corporal in the Second Australian Corps Signals when he was discharged in 1944. On the 23rd May 1945 Peter John Robley was born and ten years later Harold and Stella separated for the last time, each taking a half of the property.

Harold died in November 1982 aged 80 years. This is a sad story, no doubt sparked by conditions in the Railway Department where isolation, poor medical facilities and frequent transfers placed an unbearable pressure on marriages!

Written by John Robley, from the research by the late Eileen S. Young