thinking about the old canteen/shower block in the background of the 44 photo.
From memory these were pretty rough even by 1970s standards.
The canteen had a concrete floor, stained dark brown from a thousand dirty greasy safety boots tramping in and out.
It had long wooden tables with a thin scratched white veneer on top. And long wooden benches each side of every table. No actual chairs.
For amenities there was a hot water urn, and what were termed 'pie warmers', metal heated cabinets that you could put a meal in and keep it warm, provided it was in a metal container. There was also a metal water cooler, which provided chilled tap water.
Microwave ovens existed, but in the mid - late 70s, none were provided for staff.
There were also no fridges to keep your meals or drinks fresh or cool, if you had brought any in.
The canteen was non airconditioned, but I think it had electric metal bar heaters mounted high up the walls, and possibly there were some ceiling mounted electric fans.
First time I went in the canteen, I noticed a number of used teabags were stuck, upside down to the ceiling, the strings and tags hanging down. These had got there by being thrown hard underhand, after having been used to make tea with, so that they stuck. There were also several brown splatter marks on the ceiling from unsuccessful attempts. The whole ceiling area had that queasy brownish tinge that comes from nicotine filled smoke. The hanging bags were referred to as "Christmas Decorations". Other than the "Christmas Decorations" there was no form of adornment or decoration about the place. No pictures, posters, potted plants, of any kind. At Christmas no decorations were put up. There was no TV or radio. No vending machines. It was like a Depression era atmosphere, but Delec was only built in the 1950s or 60s, though the canteen looked decades older.
Later in my 20s I joined the army, and I never saw a mealroom or mess as uninviting as this anywhere I went, this was the benchmark for low.
On dayshift the canteen served food, being run by about 4 ladies from the railway refreshment branch, all in uniform, which included some kind of material thing in their hair, like an american maid would wear in an old 1950s movie. Even in the 1970s it looked odd and out dated.
The food provided was in the form of pies and sausage rolls, sandwiches, and in winter cooked sausages and sometimes rissoles on rolls. They also sold flavoured milk, soft drinks, chocolate bars, potato crisps, a small variety of cakes, cigarettes and matches, and a small range of men's interest magazines, kept in a rack behind the counter to prevent browsing I guess. Everything was reasonably priced, if not exactly cheap.
The ladies were all old (so they seemed to me then) probably being in their 40s or early 50s. A younger girl did start at some stage, being in her 20s, who caught all the young T.E's eyes, but as far as I know no one ever asked her out. Right from the start she made it known she had a boyfriend or was engaged or something. One of the ladies was also married to one of the old Shunters from Enfield Yard. Some of the Fitters and Labourers used to joke and maybe try to flirt a bit with the head lady. She had a good sense of humour, and she was treated with a lot of respect, as all the ladies were. You could tell she wouldn't put up with any nonsense from any of them.
The food serving part of the canteen was only open on dayshift, Monday to Friday. Of an evening roller doors were pulled down and padlocked to protect the counter and stock. The dining table part of the mealroom was open 24/7/365 days a year.
Smoking was also permitted, no restriction applied at all, and cigarette butts and spent matches would be ground into the floor under tables, sometimes even extinguished on discarded newspapers left on the table. This used to annoy me when I was looking for a paper to read, especially if the page 3 girl's eyes were burnt out with the end of a lit cigarette, as some nutter used to regularly do.
The ladies locked up about 5pm, and this was teabreak time for the T.E.s on the 3pm cleaning shift.
Maybe 4 or 5 of us would be on this shift, and we'd be sitting at a table, probably playing cards, and if we were lucky, and not all the sandwiches had been sold, one of the ladies would give them to us, rather than throw them out. This was fantastic, I can remember getting free egg, baked bean, & ham and tomato sandwiches. We'd launch into them like seagulls on dropped chips, sometimes one or two would get knocked to the floor in the scramble.
I almost never bought any food in, though often hungry I seemed to survive my shifts with no food, or on a bit of junk food.
Later in the evening, and on weekends the Fitters had a little "shop" in the room next to the shower block which sold softdrinks, packs of potato crisps and chocolate bars. They'd open this on their tea & meal break to make some cash for their annual picnic day. This provided many a T.E.s meal, satisfying the dietary requirements of fats and sugars, but not much else.
It was in the canteen, on a day shift that about 6 T.E.s were caught by Benny playing cards, outside of a break time. I'd say someone had told him we were there, as he came prepared with his notebook.
When he walked in a T.E. named MacDonald (Macca) saw him first and dived under the table. There was no way in the world that Benny could not have seen him, ours was the only occupied table in the place. Benny told us all off for a few minutes, then sent us home without pay, and with the knowledge that a bung (fine) would also be coming our way. Macca never moved. The ladies behind the counter were in near hysterics watching as this silly pantomine was played out of Macca hiding, Benny knowing he was hiding, all the T.E.s knowing he was hiding, but no-one being prepared to 'dob' him in.
As a result, when Benny left we all got up to go to the Locker rooms to get our bags and go home. Macca crawled out from under the table and snuck back over to the shed to the diesel he was supposed to be waxing.
I don't know why Benny decided to spare him, maybe he admired his quick reaction, and sheer nerve to stay under the table. I'll never know why for sure. I caught up with Macca a lot a year later at Narrabri West when we were both on loan there, and funnily enough even after I had resigned I saw him on two further occasions years later, in 1980, I was going out with a girl who was friends with his girlfriend, both girls lived out Merrylands way, and another time in 1983 at Mt Druitt , turned out he was a friend of a mutual friend.
Another night on nighshift I was in this canteen on break at about 3am. There were 4 of us, and one of the T.E.s was a bit of a petty bully. He had long straight black hair that reached down to his jeans. He was very proud of his hair, he was often brushing it. He came from Ashfield I think. He was being a pain in the @rse trying to stir me up. He'd try this from time to time. I was ignoring him. Suddenly a quiet T.E. who was reading a paper, lunged at him and knocked him to the floor, quick as lightning, then leapt onto him, grabbing him around the throat. The Ashfield guy was in sheer terror. His hair was in all the ash and butts on the floor I couldn't help but note. The quiet guy told him that if he ever gave me a hard time again, he'd kill him. The mouthy guy gasped out that he wouldn't and I never had any trouble from him again. I'd never asked for any help, and the help was unexpected, though not unwelcome.
The quiet guy was from out Mt Druitt way, and I'd never seen him say or do anything violent before then or after that event. He then picked up his paper and kept reading. The quiet guy never passed T.E. school, so spent his days mopping engine room floors on 1 Road. He had white/blonde hair, & possibly a faint pommy accent, I can't remember his name. This incident was in 1976, and he was still there on 1 road when I left at the end of 1978.
The mouthy guy made it as a Fireman he was always friendly after that incident. He resigned to work as a waiter in his parent's restaurant, within a year.
The locker and shower rooms were shabby too. Old beaten up lockers, rusty and dirty, some painted orange, some grey, some green. Same dirty concrete floor. No privacy in the showers, just rows of nozzles and taps like some kind of army barracks. As I mentioned, the showers were infected with a very nasty form of tinea, that just about rotted the skin off your toes. I've never had footrot as bad before or since using those showers. Problem was that when I worked the spray pits I had to shower at the end of the day, it was impossible not to get filthy.
I once was reading the paper, and there was a series of articles for a few weeks about horseriding, for people interested in horses or who owned horses. That wasn't my interest, but reading the paper helped to pass the time.
One day the article was titled in large black block letters: END THIS HABIT OF PULLING. This was about the horse pulling back against the rider, and the article was about how to train a horse not to do it. This headline was too good to throw away. I cut it out and glued it to Greg Keenan's locker, and for good measure cut out letters to spell KEENAN and glued that under it. Yes it was a dumb immature thing to do, but I was fresh out of school, I don't think I was even old enough to shave back then.
All the T.E.s who saw it thought this was hilarious, Greg Keenan found it less so, ripping it off his locker as soon as he found it. We were mates so it was all good fun.
here is a pic of 4902, over the turntable. Down at the shed is a 421 & 422, to the right is a 48 and 44 mostly obscured