Questions that you've always been too embarrassed to ask

 
  Lockspike Chief Train Controller

Thank you Gentlemen, very interesting.

YM, I liked the anecdote about the R at Port Melbourne, too heavy for the Yarra bridge?

Radioman, sounds like Alex was a fascinating man. My father was a signalman and I've heard many a yarn in signal boxes.

I'm interested in our railway social history, I think it is just as important as the technical aspects of railway history; how our railway families worked and lived.

For those interested, an old work but still relevant is Patsy Adam Smith's book, "Folklore of the Australian Railwaymen".

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  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Obviously the might of such steam tugs at James Paterson and Tooronga were unable to free her.
"YM-Mundrabilla"
James Paterson distinguished by having two funnels.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Obviously the might of such steam tugs at James Paterson and Tooronga were unable to free her.
James Paterson distinguished by having two funnels.
Valvegear
Burned coal too.
I watched James Paterson being cut up at South Wharf in the 1960s. A tragedy to match the scrapping of the VR's S class and the destruction of the pipe organ at the Exhibition Building in Melbourne.
Each a disaster in its own right.
Crying or Very sad
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
' YM, I liked the anecdote about the R at Port Melbourne, too heavy for the Yarra bridge?'
Well theoretically anyway; someone would have noticed an R rusting on the bed of the Yarra by now I suppose. SmileSmile

No doubt there are a great number of similar anecdotes which, to me, highlight the enormous redundancy in a lot of older rail infrastructure and I wonder whether the nanny state and unnecessarily conservative/negative (backside covering) attitudes in so many ways today might not be precluding at least some improvements in current operations etc at little cost.

Years ago an undamaged span from a derailment damaged bridge on the old CAR (Central Australia Railway) was tested to destruction and found to far exceed its theoretical/design capacity.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Hello All.

yes YM-Mundrabilla some Eastern Goods  ( -... ) "L" class ( ..--..)  hauled did go direct to Port Melbourne whilst I was at FSS "A" Box but I never saw any come back , so this presumably happened on the Night Shift ( which I rarely did ) .

One of the Signalman at FSS "A" was Alex Flacks who was a Latvian migrant around 1947 . They arrived at Station Pier, Port Melbourne  by steamer, caught an electric train to Flinders St and got out at the Elizabeth St end. They were all amazed at the loaded Fruit Stall selling tropical fruits like bananas and pineapples, something that they had never seen so fresh , and cheap.

Alex said that the train trip from Port Melbourne where there were rows of rusting corrugated iron warehouses and factories made them wonder just how poor was this new country they had come to. It was only later that they realised that corrugated iron was so widespread , coming from Northern Europe where bricks were commonplace.

He remembers going into Melbourne on the first Sunday he was here, and the only place open was the Lutheran Church where they were served morning tea . They found it strange that a city like Melbourne could be deserted on a Sunday. At that time no pubs were open on Sundays, the cinema did not open until 2pm in the afternoon, and very few cafes opened on a Sunday afternoon , which was quite different from pre WW2 Europe.

Alex could trace his family tree back to the 1400s , his extended family had relatives in Russia, Germany, Sweden and Finland , his best school friend ended up as an Assistant Prosecutor for the USSR at the Nuremberg War Crimes tribunal. His father was the preWW2 Chief Conductor for the Latvia State Symphony Orchestra.

As a result of the German-Soviet Pact , Latvia became a German territory . so he ended up in the German Army as a conscripted Medical Orderly , initially on the Russian Front, but after leave was transferred to France just in time for D-Day ! He was eventually captured by the Canadians in Holland . He said the Canadians treated them very well, offered medical supplies for the German wounded , as they had virtually no medicine to treat their wounded soldiers ,  and ended up as a POW at York .

He witnessed the V2 raids and whilst on York Railway Station , where it was freezing , a lady in the NAAFI Canteen on the platform insisted that he take shelter with her, and he was given fruit cake and a hot cup of tea. He said the British treated him better as a POW than the Germans treated their soldiers, and he was always grateful fo the kindness shown him by the British. Post war , his sister ended up marrying a RAF pilot and they lived in Bournemouth. Alex was a very interesting man to talk to , and I always enjoyed my shifts with Alex.

Regards, Radioman.
Radioman
Thanks Radioman.

Whilst I never went there A Box always fascinated me. The frame, the interlocking and the signal gantry on the Viaduct. It seemed that it was just about possible to go from almost anywhere at Flinders Street to almost anywhere else on the network. A trip from the west to 10 East was always a treat as was the 1723 (?) Brighton Beach from the Western Car Sidings for which we used to wait specially enroute to Night School at Melbourne High all those years ago.

Thinking back I worked with many people who had been affected/displaced in one way or another by WW 2 including several brilliant Engineers from Germany and Poland who especially come to mind. There were, of course, many Australian Returned Servicemen (some of whom had been PoWs) too. It was truly an honour to work with some of these men.

YM
  kitchgp Chief Train Controller

Many years back there was a photo in the Australian Railway Historical Society Victorian Division's Newsrail of a B Class on Station Pier about to depart with a migrant special to Bonegilla circa 1958.
  Lockspike Chief Train Controller

' YM, I liked the anecdote about the R at Port Melbourne, too heavy for the Yarra bridge?'
Well theoretically anyway; someone would have noticed an R rusting on the bed of the Yarra by now I suppose. SmileSmile

No doubt there are a great number of similar anecdotes which, to me, highlight the enormous redundancy in a lot of older rail infrastructure and I wonder whether the nanny state and unnecessarily conservative/negative (backside covering) attitudes in so many ways today might not be precluding at least some improvements in current operations etc at little cost.

Years ago an undamaged span from a derailment damaged bridge on the old CAR (Central Australia Railway) was tested to destruction and found to far exceed its theoretical/design capacity.
YM-Mundrabilla
The early civil engineers didn't have the wealth of knowledge we now have about the strengths of materials and methods of jointing, so they tended to overbuild. This has worked out well for us as many old structures lasted much longer, and in some cases, bore (or are still bearing) greater loads than originally conceived.

The Chief Civil Engineers of the various railway systems placed conservative load limits on the assets under their care to ensure the longevity of said assets. So, the Yarra bridge may well have been able to bear an R a couple of times without perceptible damage, but such use may well not have been sustainable, (if indeed an R ever did make it to Port Melbourne, and the Yarra bridge being the limiting factor, but it's a good story!).
  Toad Montgomery Chief Commissioner

Location: Port Hedland: Team EMU want's YOU!
I know that Station Pier at Port Melbourne was wired for electric trains but does anyone know if Princes Pier was also wired for electric trains, please?
The former rail access to Station Pier is obvious, but where was the alignment to Princes Pier located?

I assume that sparks went to Princes Pier when required as this Pier was at least equally as important as Station Pier for many years. I think that Station Pier was being rebuilt and extended in the 1920s but open to correction? I know that my father went on board HMS Hood at Princes Pier in March 1924 and he, along with a million others, presumably got there by train. Perhaps someone will know if spark destination rolls included Princes Pier?
YM-Mundrabilla
The The Electric Railways of Victoria outlines that Princess Pier was run as required, with the service usually a double ended swing door.The Port Melbourne services were extended in Jan 1927 to the Bay Excursion Pier with two services extended from Port Melbourne each hour, the electric service to Station Pier (beyond the Bay Excursion Pier) wasn't actually operated as an electric service until May 1933, and then as required, and the overhead was extended to Station Pier from the Bay Excursion Pier at that time.
All this detail is from the above mentioned book The Electric Railways of Victoria.
  Dangersdan707 Deputy Commissioner

Location: On a Thing with Internet
also recall seeing the wreck of the Nairana on the beach west of Princes Pier when I was very young.
Cor; you're an old coot like me. I saw it too, aground and beam on to the sea. I don't think it was actually a wreck; I seem to recall that it was eventually re-floated. It, of course was one of the two vessels which plied the Bass Strait run to Tassie and back; the other ship was named Taroona.

Edit: My memory failed. Nairana was unable to be re-floated and was broken up in place.
Valvegear
Taroona Was cut up in 1989 in Greece
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Taroona
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
I know that Station Pier at Port Melbourne was wired for electric trains but does anyone know if Princes Pier was also wired for electric trains, please?
The former rail access to Station Pier is obvious, but where was the alignment to Princes Pier located?

I assume that sparks went to Princes Pier when required as this Pier was at least equally as important as Station Pier for many years. I think that Station Pier was being rebuilt and extended in the 1920s but open to correction? I know that my father went on board HMS Hood at Princes Pier in March 1924 and he, along with a million others, presumably got there by train. Perhaps someone will know if spark destination rolls included Princes Pier?
The The Electric Railways of Victoria outlines that Princess Pier was run as required, with the service usually a double ended swing door.The Port Melbourne services were extended in Jan 1927 to the Bay Excursion Pier with two services extended from Port Melbourne each hour, the electric service to Station Pier (beyond the Bay Excursion Pier) wasn't actually operated as an electric service until May 1933, and then as required, and the overhead was extended to Station Pier from the Bay Excursion Pier at that time.
All this detail is from the above mentioned book The Electric Railways of Victoria.
Toad Montgomery
Thanks again Toad.
Regards
YM
  Lad_Porter Chief Commissioner

Location: Yarra Glen
Many years back there was a photo in the Australian Railway Historical Society Victorian Division's Newsrail of a B Class on Station Pier about to depart with a migrant special to Bonegilla circa 1958.
kitchgp
In 1958/59 I had a part time job in the refreshment rooms at Seymour, and sometimes I would be on duty in the platform kiosk when the migrant trains stopped on their way to Bonegilla.  The trains invariably consisted of the crappiest old cars, BPLs and earlier, and they were filled with migrants who were just bewildered.  They would want to buy something (a piece of fruit, a drink, a sandwich, whatever) but many spoke little or no English and did not understand the money.  So they would ask for it in their own language, which we did not understand, or they would just point to the thing they wanted with one hand,  and try to hand over a fistful of money with the other.  It was always way too much money, and we would painstakingly try to take only the amount required and give the rest back.  It would have been so easy to rip off those new chums, but I don't believe anyone ever did.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Many years back there was a photo in the Australian Railway Historical Society Victorian Division's Newsrail of a B Class on Station Pier about to depart with a migrant special to Bonegilla circa 1958.
In 1958/59 I had a part time job in the refreshment rooms at Seymour, and sometimes I would be on duty in the platform kiosk when the migrant trains stopped on their way to Bonegilla.  The trains invariably consisted of the crappiest old cars, BPLs and earlier, and they were filled with migrants who were just bewildered.  They would want to buy something (a piece of fruit, a drink, a sandwich, whatever) but many spoke little or no English and did not understand the money.  So they would ask for it in their own language, which we did not understand, or they would just point to the thing they wanted with one hand,  and try to hand over a fistful of money with the other.  It was always way too much money, and we would painstakingly try to take only the amount required and give the rest back.  It would have been so easy to rip off those new chums, but I don't believe anyone ever did.
Lad_Porter
It was another world back then.
My father had a shop and the same sort of thing occurred. Poor bastards had been through hell and back but looking back so many of these people have been the making of this country.

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