The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 7 (November 1, 1928)
The Battle of the Gauges
The Battle of the Gauges.
In a dispatch, dated 30th June, 1848, Earl Grey urged upon the Governor of New South Wales the adoption of one uniform gauge, with a view to the joining up at some future time (though probably distant period) of the lines not only in the same Colony, but with those constructed in adjacent Colonies, and he regarded the 4ft. 8 ½in. gauge prescribed in England, as the most desirable.
In 1850 the Company's engineer strongly advocated the adoption of the 5ft. 3in. gauge in preference to that recommended by Earl Grey, and the Company's manager urged that, as their railway would be the first constructed in Australia, a timely notification to the other Australian Colonies would prevent the occurrence of any inconvenience from the break of gauge. The application was forwarded to Earl Grey, who advised that Her Majesty's Government page 11 would not object to the 5ft. 3in. gauge for which such a decided preference had been expressed in the Colony. Thereupon the New South Wales Legislature enacted in 1852 that all railways in New South Wales should be built to the 5ft. 3in. gauge, and this decision was communicated to the Colonies of Victoria and South Australia.
The application was referred to the Legislative Council which passed an Act in 1853 repealing the former Act and making the 4ft. 8 ½in. gauge imperative in New South Wales. In terms of this Act, which had been referred to the Home Government for Royal assent, the Company ordered considerable quantities of materials suitable for this gauge.