Working on the Railways

That was the career my Great Grandfather William had. William was married to my wonderful Great Grandmother Ivy (The one whose house always smelt like a bakery).

Born in late 1903 in Boulder W.A, William spent much of his life living in South Australia and working on the railways as a Railway Overseer and as a Railway Porter. He was the guy in charge of all the freight coming in and going out, making sure it was all there and unloaded and loaded correctly. Bit of a stressful job but if you got a good team then it would run pretty smoothly.

I found it funny yet interesting when I was doing volunteer work at the railway yards where he worked, the guy who was in charge, Bob, actually knew William and told a funny and unfortunate story of how he got to know him.

Bob had just got work at the Railway yard and it was his first day there when he was asked to shift some of the carriges so they were lined up to go into the freight dock for loading. Well one thing led to another and there was a misunderstanding thrown in there and the carriges went through the gate, into the freight dock causing just a little bit of damage.

Well, as you could imagine, the guy in charge of the freight dock (William) came running out and tore strips off poor Bob who in turn said he was just doing what he was asked. When William found out who it was that gave him the ‘stupid request’ he went and put him in his place too.

What a way to start your first day on the job, I can understand how you would never forget someone like that. I quite enjoyed helping out at the railway yard and didn’t mind helping the guys with their painting and restoration work, working where William once had.

The other area where I helped out was at the passanger terminal, looking back over the old maps, tickets and even the time books was incredible, to see the old hand writing, it was like art compared to how we write today.

Smoko time was the best, sitting out on the dock in the sun and watching the trains coming and going and even watching them shunting (moving carriges around here and there and connecting up the ones they need). Its pretty noisy when they line it all up and then stop, you then hear all the carriages knock against the one in front, when you got some 40 or more carriages, thats a lot of noise.

I think there might be a little bit of love for the railways in me just like it was in William.

If you would like to have a look at the railway yard, click here

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