A shady waterhole . .
Originally known as Chidlow’s Well, Chidlow was the earliest official townsite to be declared within the Shire. It takes its name from a watering place first located and used by William Chidlow, who came to Western Australia in 1831 as a servant. The Blackbutt trees that shaded Chidlow’s Well made it a welcome overnight campsite for travellers to Northam.
Image: Chidlow's Well Train Station, 1898
Not to be relied upon
Described as a ‘shallow waterhole dry in summer’, the original well was never a reliable source of water even when deepened and later lined. By the 1880s, a second Chidlow’s Well had been constructed.
Becomes a boom town
Chidlow became a bustling little town in 1884, as the eastern terminus of the Eastern Railway, with carts and wagons bringing in farm produce and sandalwood, teams of horses and bullocks, and the gangs of navvies. The inn stayed open 24 hours a day.
And doesn't go bust
Even after York became the eastern terminal, Chidlow—as it became known in 1920 due to local residents wanting to drop the word ‘Well’—remained an important stopping place on the line. Both passengers and the trains could take refreshment here – from tearooms, or water towers filled with water from the nearby railway reservoir, Lake Leschenaultia.
Thanks to the train
Large numbers of railway employees and their families lived in the town. However, the timber industry was equally important to Chidlow’s early growth and economy. Not only did the railways require timber in the form of sleepers, but they also made the area more accessible to timber cutters. And when the tall trees were depleted orchards flourished, with produce railed to markets in Perth and the goldfields.
Now long gone
In 1966 the old line was closed when the standard gauge line through the Avon Valley was opened. Lake Leschenaultia remains as a reminder of the area’s railway heritage, and today is a popular recreation spot for locals and those from further afield.
State Registered Places in Chidlow: