NSW Railway Institute
Railway Commissioner Goodchap is credited with the idea to establish the NSW Railway Institute in 1883, when he sent Locomotive Engineer Mr William Scott to study the practices of the leading railway systems of the world, for the purpose of “training of our own men for every position in the service”.
Opening in March 1891 in a purpose-built building on Chalmers St, Surry Hills near Central Station, the NSW Railway Institute was ostensibly established by as a central teaching facility and vocational library for railway staff. However, the Institute was also very quickly used by railway staff as a key location for social and physical recreation.
The Railway Institute offered commercial, trade and vocational courses to apprentices and cadets, as well as libraries, reading rooms, and recreational facilities including a billiards room and ladies gymnasium. Social activities were encouraged and took many forms including dramatic clubs, billiards and chess groups, gymnasium activities, boxing and wrestling, cycling, cricket, and rifle shooting. The membership of the Railway Institute grew rapidly, expanding from 1619 members in 1911 to over 6200 in 1917.