First Hand Accounts Glenrowan The Railway

John Stanistreet’s Statement (3 July 1880)

A statement by the Glenrowan stationmaster, Stanistreet.

South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 – 1889), Saturday 3 July 1880, page 6

About 3 o’clock on Sunday morning a knock came to my door, at the gate house, within 100 yards of the station, on the Melbourne side. I jumped up, and thinking it was some one wanting to get through the gates in a hurry I commenced to dress as soon as possible. I half dressed, and went to the door. Just when I got to the door it was burst in, but previous to that there was some impatient talk, which caused me to dress quickly. When the door was burst in I asked, “What is that for,” or “Who are you?” The answer was, “I am Ned Kelly.” I then saw a man, clad in an overcoat, standing in the doorway. He pushed me into my bedroom, where my wife and some of the children were in bed. There were two girls and one infant besides my wife. Then he said to me, “You have to come with me and take up the rails.” “Wait,” said I, ” until I dress.” He said, “Yes,” and I completed my dress and followed him out of the house. On the line there were seven or eight men standing at the gate which crosses the line to Mrs. Jones’s hotel, the Glenrowan Inn. He said, “You direct those men how to raise some of the rails, as we expect a special train very soon.” I objected, saying, “I know nothing about lifting rails off the line; the only persons who understand it are the repairers; they live outside and along the line.” Ned Kelly then went into Reardon, the platelayer’s house. Reardon lives outside the line on the Greta side, about a quarter of a mile away. Steve Hart was present, and Kelly left us in his charge. When Kelly went away Hart gave me a prod with his rifle in the side, saying, “You get the tools out that are necessary to raise those rails.” I said, “I have not the key of the chest;” and he said, “Break the lock.” He told one of the men to do so, and on arriving at the station he got one of the men to do it. This was in the little back shed used as a storeroom, between the station and the gatehouse. The tools were thrown out, and in the meantime Reardon and Sullivan, the line repairers, arrived with Ned Kelly. These two men and Ned proceeded down the line towards Wangaratta to lift the rails. We were still under Steve Hart, and we remained where we were over two hours, and then Ned Kelly and the repairers returned. Ned then enquired about the signalling of trains, as to how I stopped a train with the signal lights. I said. “White is right, red is wrong, and green is ‘gently, come along.'” He said, “There is a special train coming; you give no signals.” Speaking to Hart he said, “Watch his countenance, and if he gives any signal shoot him.” He then marched us into my residence, and left us there under Steve Hart. There were there then about seventeen altogether, other persons subsequently being placed in my house also. There were present Reardon’s family, the Ryan family, Cameron (son of the gate-keeper on the other line), Sullivan, line repairer, and others whom I do not remember. We were locked up all day on Sunday, and were only allowed out under surveillance. The women were permitted to go to Jones’s Hotel about 6 o’clock and shortly afterwards all the men but me and my family went away. Steve Hart stopped with us, and during the night Dan Kelly relieved Hart, and he was afterwards relieved by Byrne. Just before the special train arrived I was ordered to the hotel by Hart, who was on and off duty all the time, to follow him to Jones’s, and not signal the train. I went into the back kitchen, where Mrs. Jones and daughter, aged about 14, and two younger children were. There was also a man there named Neil McKew. By this time the train had arrived, and firing was going on furiously. I did not see Ned Kelly in the room. I with others stood in the chimney. I did not hear any remark passed by any of the gang, and they disappeared. A ball passed through the hat, and graced Miss Jane Jones, 14 years of age, on the forehead. The girl said “I’m shot,” and turned to me. I saw the blood and told her it was nothing. The mother commenced to cry, and soon afterwards I left the kitchen, and went into the backyard. I then saw three of the gang there standing behind the chimney. They had their rifles in their hands. One of than said, I don’t know which, ” If you go out you’ll be shot.” I walked straight down the path towards the house. The firing was then going on all round me, but I was uninjured. One of the police very nearly shot me, but I said “Stationmaster” when he challenged me. I forgot to mention that during Sunday afternoon Steve Hart demanded and received my revolver.

By AJFPhelan56

Father, writer, artist and bushranging historian residing in Melbourne, Australia. Author of 'Glenrowan' and the popular website A Guide to Australian Bushranging.

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