Sunday, 6 July 2008

Monday Morning Photo. 19/10/07.




G'day all, I look at a picture like this one and I marvel at the freedom us teenage railfans were allowed on railway property all over Australia. A courtesy visit to the Shed Foreman, " Mind if I have a bit of a look around the shed" and the answer almost always was along the lines of " Go for your life son, just be a bit careful".

And it wasn't just around Loco Depots, most railwaymen had at the least an amused tolerance of our interest and plenty of them would go out of their way to make you welcome so long as you didn't make a nuisance/dickhead of yourself. Anyway you pretty soon learned to look out for yourself, the railway almost became your natural habitat, especially at a place like Peterborough. I made three visits there in 1962-63 and at that time the Division was still a very busy all steam operation........ except for a couple of Brill railcars that is. And they were honorary steam locos anyway.

Hardly anyone I knew owned a car so all travel was by rail. I hitch hiked too if need be. At Peterborough there was a Refreshment Room and Bar and a very comfortable Waiting Room which was headquarters and campsite for the duration. I do use the word comfortable fairly loosely but it was warm and dry and you could safely leave your meagre kit there while you explored and photographed. Train Control for the Division was at the station and they very obligingly called the trains for us as they reported at the last halt " Train 102, Engine 408, through Ucolta 11.17" giving you plenty of time to walk out along the line and get a photo.

I was on my way back to Victoria from a visit to the S.A.Rs Port Lincoln Division when I took the attached, that would have been late January 1963, the 400s and the ore wagons got auto couplers during the Christmas-New Year shutdown of the Broken Hill mines. Later in the year the diesels started to take over. I've never been back.

Late in 1969, in the last days of the narrow gauge main line, some of the Garratts enjoyed a brief swansong while the 830 class Alcos were converted for the new standard gauge line but unfortunately this didn't coincide with my annual leave from the Tramways Board so I missed out.

The 400s were really something, they were allegedly painted black but in fact were just on the green side of black, " Improved Engine Black" may have been the official name, on the other hand it may have come from the fertile mind of one Dave MacCartney, I can't remember. As you can see from the attached picture they were an impressive looking engine......and they were loud.

Best regards,

Peter Bruce.

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