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1853 The Hunter Valley Railway Co was formed; construction began by the contractor William Wright on the section from Honeysuckle Point to Hexham. This section had to cross what is known as the Hexham Swamp, and the experience of George Stephenson at Chat Moss in England was put to good use when a corduroy of brushwood was used as the underlay for the embankment.
1857 Governor Dennison, of New South Wales, named The Great Northern Railway at its opening on 30 March 1857.
1857 A further contract was let to Wright and Randle for the section onwards to East Maitland.
1858 The line was extended east to the what is now the Newcastle Station and westwards to near the present Maitland Station
Work on the inland route to Queensland then continued, the line being opened to Wallangarra in January 1888.