In the 1930s, the Australian Railway Historical Society was formed for those with an interest in railways to share their interest, meet other people and exchange information. It’s a cliché to say that the world was a very different place then, but true nevertheless. In the realm of transport, steam was king, cars were for the privileged, and interstate or overseas travel was an expensive undertaking in terms of both time and money.
Now, thanks to the internet, it’s very easy to find others with similar interests and almost as easy to access information. At the same time, railways are less prominent in most people’s daily lives and other modes of transport are often more convenient. We have moved on from a mechanical age where a fascination with locomotives and machines was common, to an age of a fascination verging on obsession with computing, communication and consumable entertainment.
It’s no surprise then that these changes have had an impact on railway preservation societies and interest groups – membership is falling, and seniors are an over-represented age group. The ARHS is no exception. While this situation could be seen as a threat to our long-term future, I think the convergence of the old with the new presents us with a great opportunity. More than ever before, we have the means to connect with others and to share the good things ARHSnsw can offer. Going by the number of different groups and the sizes of their membership, Facebook shows us that there are still many who are interested in railways. It is the intention of ARHSnsw to attract these new generations of railway enthusiasts and remain a focus for them through the products, services and experiences we offer. This refreshing new website is just the beginning.