First Hand Accounts Glenrowan History The Railway

Statement of the Stationmaster (29 June 1880)

An account of Glenrowan from the Glenrowan stationmaster, John Stanistreet.

South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900), Tuesday 29 June 1880, page 5


Glenrowan, Monday.

John Stanistreet, the stationmaster at Glenrowan, states — “About 3 o’clock on Sunday morning a knock came to my door. I live at the gatehouse, within 100 yards of the station on the Melbourne side. I jumped out of bed, and thinking it was some one wishing to get through the gates in a hurry, I proceeded to dress, and after getting half my clothes on I went to the door. Just as I arrived at the door it was burst in. Previous to that there was some impertinent talk outside to get me to open quickly. When the door was burst in I asked, “Who are you — what is this for?” The answer was, “I am Ned Kelly.” I saw a man clad in an overcoat, who walked in with me to my bedroom. Mrs. Stanistreet and the children were in bed. There were two little girls and one infant. Ned Kelly said to me, “You have to come with me and take up the rails.” I replied, “Wait until I dress,” and I completed my dress and followed him out of the house, on to the railway line. I found seven or eight men standing at the gate looking over the line near Mr. Jones’s Glenrowan Inn. Ned Kelly, speaking to me, said :— “Now you direct those men how to raise some of the rails, as we expect a special train very soon.” I objected, saying “I knew nothing about lifting the rails off the line. The only persons that understand it are the repairers, and they live outside and on the line.” Ned went on alone to Reardon, the platelayer’s house, which stands about a quarter of a mile along the line southward. I and the other men were left in charge of Steve Hart. Ned Kelly went on to Reardon’s house. Steve Hart gave me a prod with his gun in the side, and said, “You get the tools out that are necessary to raise those rails.” I replied, “I have not the key of the chest.” He said I will break the lock, and he got one of the men to do so. They took all the tools out of the chest, which lay in a back shed or toolhouse between the station and the crossing. Soon afterwards Ned and two of the repairers (Reardon and Sullivan) arrived. Ned, accompanied by these two men, proceeded down the line towards Wangaratta. We stood with Hart in the cold at the hut for about two hours. At last Ned Kelly and the repairers returned. Ned enquired about the signalling on the line, and how to stop trains with the signal lamps. I told him white is right and red wrong, and green generally come along. He then said there is a special train coming, and you will give no signal. Then, speaking to Hart, he said, “Watch his countenance and if he gives any signal shoot him.” He marched us into my house, and left us under the charge of Steve Hart. Subsequently other persons were made prisoners and lodged in my house to the number of about 17. They were the Reardon family, the Ryan family, Tom Cameron, son of a gate-keeper on the line, and others whom I don’t remember. We were locked up all day on Sunday, but we were allowed out under surveillance. The women were allowed to go to Jones’s Hotel. About dark all the men but myself and family went to the hotel. Soon afterwards Steve Hart remained with us all night. During the night Dan Kelly relieved Hart, and he was afterwards relieved by Byrne. Just before the special train arrived this morning I was ordered by Hart, who was on and off duty throughout the night, to follow him over to Jones’s, and not to signal the train. I went into the back kitchen, and found there Mrs. Jones with her daughter about 14, and two younger children. There was also a man there named Neil Mackean. By this time the train had arrived, and firing was going on previously, and we all took shelter about the chimney. The house is a mere shell of a structure. The gang disappeared from me when the firing commenced. A bullet passed right through the kitchen, and grazed the temple of Jane Jones, aged 14, daughter of the landlord. She exclaimed, “I am shot,” and as she turned to me I saw her head bleeding, and told her it was nothing serious. Poor Mrs. Jones commenced to cry bitterly. I left the kitchen and went into the backyard, and passed the gang there. They were standing together at the kitchen chimney. I cannot say whether there were three or four of them. One of them said, “If you go out you will be shot.” I walked straight to my house. Firing was going on, but I was uninjured. Of course I was challenged as I passed through. I omitted to state that on Sunday night Steve Hart demanded my revolver from me, and I had to give it up.”

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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