Our history

Origins of ARHS

On 19th May 1933, six enthusiasts met in Sydney and formed the Great Railway Circle of Australia. In May 1936 the name was changed to Australian Railway and Locomotive Historical Society and further changed to Australian Railway Historical Society in 1951.

Membership grew steadily and in 1945 a Division was formed in Victoria. Other Divisions were subsequently formed in the South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, Western Australia and ACT.

Due to the increasing size and range of activities of the Society, separate companies were formed in each state to take over the assets and liabilities of the Divisions of the unincorporated Society, The Australian Railway Historical Society, New South Wales Division, is a Company Limited by Guarantee.

ARHSnsw remains the oldest and largest member-based organisation of its type in the country. The Society has amassed a large library of books, magazines, drawings, photographs and other documents related to the history of railways in NSW and Australia.

Whilst railways are still an important part of our cities and towns, the tremendous contribution they made to the social and economic development of the nation is often unheralded. Our objectives are to preserve and promote this important history through the maintenance of our archival collection; to produce magazines and books (including our monthly magazines Australian Railway History and Railway Digest); and to encourage association between those interested and with the community through special events, rail tours and excursions. The Society also operates one of the most comprehensive railway bookshops in the world.

Meetings & Tours

Monthly meetings, at which visitors are welcomed, are held in Sydney and Newcastle. These meetings usually feature a talk on a topic of railway interest, accompanied by a programme of films or colour slides.

The Society arranges outings to places of railway interest. Some of these excursions are by special train and arrangements are made for the passengers to record the outing on film and tape. Other outings are designed to give members and their friends the opportunity to enjoy travelling in a train and/or visiting areas of historical interest.


The NSW Division publishes the ARHS Australian Railway History (formerly Bulletin), the foremost record of Australian railway history. Railway Digest, reporting day to day rail activities, is also published monthly. The Society also publishes and distributes books. Write or telephone the Bookshop for a current book and video list.

ARHS NSW Bookshop

The Society’s Bookshop has recently reopened on the Grand Concourse at Sydney's Central Station. Purchases can also be made via our online store or telephone. We stock books, magazines, DVDs and CDs from Australia and overseas, sold at competitive prices. 

Upcoming Events

Aims and Objectives

These can be summarised as:


To encourage the study of Australian railways.


To enable people interested in the history and operations of Australian railways and NSW tramways to associate with others with similar interests, for their mutual benefit and enjoyment devices.


To encourage preservation of historical artefacts


To arrange outings, tours etc.


To encourage the compilation of accurate records.


To produce publications and other records.

Meet the Board