This area was originally called Chidlow‘s Well as it was a
watering point on the road to Northam. The townsite was declared in November
The name Chidlow originates with early settler William Chidlow who constructed
the first well here. Residents petitioned for the name to be changed to Chidlows
but the ‘s’ was dropped and the name became Chidlow in 1920. (Another source
says the name came from a Peter Chidlow who was speared to death by Aborigines
on July 8th 1837.)
First developed as a signal post on the railway, a station was also constructed
but closed when the line was diverted in 1966. A grassed park in front of the
hotel is the original site of the station.
In 1996 a bushfire in the area destroyed several buildings and a fire fighter
was killed when struck by a vehicle.
The town grew up surrounded by timer cutters camps and eventually orchards took
over as the main source of produce. When the railway closed down the town
reverted to a sleepy back water and remains so to this day.
A winery called Chidlow Brook has been established and is located on Lakeview
Not far from town is a popular weekend picnic spot at Lake Leschenaultia. This
is a man made lake and was originally constructed to provide a reliable source
of water for the railway’s steam engines.
Tall tales and true: Heavy load.
On the 8th of December 1885 a C class railway engine was sent out to Mahogany
Creek to pick up 8 ballast wagons. The brake car was uncoupled before the wagons
were attached and was supposed to be re-attached to the train once it was on its
way back. It turned out that the fully laden ballast wagons were too much for
the small engine to control and it was impossible for the crew to pick up the
brake car. The train gradually picked up speed on the steep grade and the crew
decided to jump for their lives.
Not far down the track the train came off the rails and was completely wrecked.
The driver, who would have undoubtedly been killed if he remained at his post,
was fined three weeks pay for not staying with the train to the end.
The engine was eventually re-built and later went into private service and was
christened ‘Kate’. Kate can still be seen at the railways museum in Bassendean.
The section of track where this accident took place was called Cape Horn by the
railway men and it was the scene of a number of accidents.
Eventually the line was re-routed to an area where the maximum grade was easier
(1 in 50 instead of 1 in 30). The tracks were in service until 1966 and today
much of the old route is used as walk trails and bridle paths.