With the end of World War One there was a general need to resettle returned servicemen and ensure that they were given adequate support. One of the ways in which this was achieved was through the scheme of soldier settlement and these soldier settlements were established in many different places. In the case of Stanthorpe and the area around it, resettling soldiers was seen as a way to provide assistance to those servicemen and their families, as well as generally developing the Stanthorpe region. These specific soldier settlements, located just to the north of Stanthorpe, were known collectively as the Pikedale Soldier Settlement.
As a means of linking the new settlements with markets and services, a branch railway line was proposed. However, the point of divergence from the main line was subject to dispute for some time, but was eventually agreed upon to be Cottonvale. Construction of the line commenced in June 1919 with the Queensland Agent-General turning the first sod.
Called the Amiens line, it was constructed in just over twelve months, with the total cost being around forty thousand pounds. Its length was just over twelve miles or nineteen kilometres, with a number of sidings put in place along its length. There were six of these sidings servicing the soldier settlements of Fleurbaix, Pozieres, Bullecourt, Passchendaele, Bapaume, and Messines with the terminus of the line at Amiens, all names commemorating battlefields. The line was hailed as a great success and its opening by HRH the Prince of Wales, who was visiting Australia at the time, was widely publicised.
Later, a number of State enterprises were established including the Amiens Tomato Sauce Factory, which was the first factory in the district. This was part of the network of establishments set up by the government to provide work and facilities for the soldier settlements and the new branch railway line provided an economic lifeline for these operations. This line was to stay in operation for more than fifty years before finally closing in 1974. However, the names of the sidings and the associated settlements remain as memorials to these returning First World War soldiers.
This image, dating from around 1922, shows the newly constructed railway station, as well as the surrounding area.
Brian Randall – Queensland Places Coordinator, State Library of Queensland