AUSTRALIAN RAILWAY STORY

Railway Voices CD: 15. FAREWELL TO STEAM

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Vaughan Gwilliams Eveleigh Loco Running Shed

You were more or less like a brotherhood in that particular area where you were all in the same boat, involved with steam engines and of course they were like a living thing They breathed and they worked and expanded and contracted with the heat just like human beings do, you know, and when they got angry they blew their top just like human beings and so I suppose it was an era where you can understand why people love steam engines.

Ken Stokoe

What fascinates people, I think, about a locomotive is that its insides are all on the outside.

Les Hourigan Fitter, Cardiff Workshops

I prefer steam. Well, they were alive. Diesels are dead.

Farewell to Steam by Tom Casey (1969)
Recited by Denis Kevans

It's farewell to the old steam loco so the papers say
Though you're still hale and hearty,
They say you've had your day
I know how you feel old pal
They've done the same to me
And I can still go over a fence
Or climb an old gum tree
I suppose we must give way to progress
The diesels have come to stay

Jack Sparkes

In the wintertime, it wouldn't be anything to have 2 pairs of socks, longjohns, your ordinary clothes, your jumper, coat, overalls and overcoat over the top, balaclava, and then in the summer it was just the opposite. So it wasn't all ... it wasn't all beer and skittles.

Farewell to Steam (cont.)

So here's a toast to you old steam loco
And all the good work that you did
In the words of the sentimental bloke
To you I dips me lid.

Ron Preston

The Americans were the leaders in the diesel electric field. So our engineers decided that we too would try this new form of traction. The 41s and the 40s pioneered the diesel electric traction in NSW and then local industries all got into the act and they got licences to build locomotives and all diesels have been built here since.

Mick Tysson electrical fitter

The NSW railways advertised for electrical fitters and mechanics to come to Australia and they would provide accommodation and good jobs, etc., good life, etc. And I went along for the interview and I asked the particular reason why they wanted electric fitters and mechanics, and they said at the time, well dieselisation was being introduced into NSW and they wanted ready-made people, particularly in the electric field, to maintain these units. So when I came here in '62, one of the jobs I did was to take on a country relief. And the country relief in those days was to go out to the country depots and be there as a diesel electrical mechanic for the odd diesel that used to come into the depot. And when you went to Junee, there was two large roundhouses. The roundhouses were capable of holding up to 25-30 locomotives each and they were empty. And at any one time at Junee, there'd be two or three diesels in the depot for maintenance. And the rest were doing the work. And Junee, I felt, was dead. The word would be to describe dead.

Railway Voices a CD of Australian railway workers stories with songs and poems