Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Day tours

Today’s mention in a number of news groups of the NSW Rail Transport Museum’s (RTM) triple-header New Year’s tour to Grafton reminded this old timer of the halcyon days four decades ago when this same organisation ran steam-hauled day tours to the Illawarra on New Year’s Day.

From what I recall, plus what the Roundhouse publication recorded, I am pretty certain that these tours ran from 1968 to 1975, each year using a different steam locomotive.  The tour called for a leisurely mid-morning departure from Sydney, which allowed many to disembark at Austinmer beach around lunchtime.  Almost every year the train would continue through to Wollongong for servicing.  If I recall correctly, on a number of years passengers were given the option of being bussed to North Wollongong beach for the afternoon.  The return trip was made at the end of the day.

Unfortunately, I have very few photographs available of these tours, for a reason I will explain later.  But, back to the trains themselves...

I think that the first such tour was on New Year’s Day 1968, when black streamliner 3803 ran the beach tour down the coast.  The following year, the tour was a complete contrast, this time worked by branch-liner 3090T. 

From 1970 onwards, the Museum used its own locomotives to work the tours.  That year 3642 worked the tour, while New Year’s Day 1971 brought 3214 down the coast.  In 1972 3616 ran the tour through to Wollongong.  While not entirely sure, I believe that this photograph, shot on a Kodak Instamatic,  records this occasion.

1973 was a tour with a twist.  5910 worked the tour to Wollongong and in the process managed to break a spring which gained this locomotive an overnight stay in Wollongong yard.  Unfortunately I do not know what motive power was called on to perform the return trip.  A reasonable guess would be a 48 class!

The first day of the following year (1974), brought 3526 to Wollongong on the tour. 

The final year that I understand that the tours ran was 1975.  On this occasion, 5910’s earlier disgrace was forgotten when it again ran RTM’s tour.  So, if my records are correct, 5910 was the only locomotive to be honoured as a dual visitor to the Illawarra on these tours, as well as being the only locomotive to make a New Year’s Day tour last 48 hours.

The paucity of photographs in the collection from these tours is not just reflective of a time when fewer photographs were taken.  For a number of these years, the Illawarra Group of the RTM hosted a late afternoon repast for beach-goers from these tours at the Illawarra Liver Steamers Park in West Wollongong. 

As the Senior Train Hunter (STH) and Mrs STH were/are civic-minded types, they would ‘man’ the BBQs and salad bowls at this event.  This gave me a wonderful couple of hours lining up for free rides behind live-steamers of the type shown in the following photograph of a triple-header 32/38/59 combination.  A great start to the year for a young lad.

Happy New Year to all!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rozelle shunters in the 1990s

Apologies for the lack of posts in recent times; I have been touring Japan and its amazing railways.  I fear it may be necessary to amend the title of this blog to the 'NSW and JR (Japan Railway) Rail Rambler' fairly soon as there is much to be impressed with in the Japanese version of railways. Still, those stories are for another time....

Its time to wander back 20 years to a bridge over the Rozelle goods yards, when it was still a goods yard.  In the early 1990s I was living in Glebe.  While the glory days of the Rozelle yard were well and truly over by then, it was still worth taking an intermittent peak at proceedings.  

A semi-regular Saturday jaunt for me was to head across to the White Bay area via Blackwattle Park, so I could enjoy harbour views from either the road bridge or the pedestrian bridge which still gives spectacular views to the west and the east ends of the yard.  Often my trusty Canon Instamatic travelled with me.

I have a slew of photographs from the 1990 to 1994 period, when the yard had a rostered shunting loco.  Quite often the same loco appeared as the rostered shunter for weeks at a time, which discouraged train hunters such as your correspondent from too-frequent visits.  

So, lets have a look at just some of the locos rostered to perform those duties during those five years.  In particular, I wish to show a subset of the photographs taken from the two aforementioned bridges.  I suspect that the crews tried to park their trusty steed in the shadow of the road bridge, especially during summer.  This made certain photographic contortions to be attempted, resulting in a pleasing range of angles when a photograph was possible.

First up is 4894, parked in an orthodox position (near the crew cars) just to the west of the road bridge.  This photograph was taken on May Day 1990, certainly justifying the long march to White Bay.

I guess my interest in Rozelle yard was really sparked when a workmate who lived near Rozelle arrived in the office one day in October 1990 to say that a green locomotive was shunting the yard.  It turned out to be the lovely 4902.

Its younger but equally colourful classmate, 4916, made an appearance on the 29th of the same month.

While the lusty General Motored 49 classes held sway in late 1990, over the course of the following twelve months Alcos reasserted their dominance.  In particular, 48s abounded.  Three examples from the second half of 1992 were indicative of this dominant role.

48102 appeared regularly in July and August 1992, including on the 23rd August.

Towards the end of August the very elderly 4818 arrived for service.  I hope you appreciate the weird angle at which this was photographed.  I have no idea why I did it this way... perhaps it was my arty phase.

4881 also got into the act towards the end of 1992.

Occasionally, very occasionally, one could be unlucky enough to get there when the shunter was working.  On one Saturday afternoon, I sprung a dilapidated 48 (thought to be 4819) ambling down the yard.  I include this photograph to show that I do photograph moving objects, sometimes.

Just when you were getting really bored with things, the old RailCorp could spice things up a bit for you, like they did for me in 1993 by sending a warhorse in the form of 4512.  Throughout the greater part of 1993 it showed that there was masculine life possible in Rozelle.  4512 also demonstrated that (for the modellers of that era anyway), no weathering project was too over the top.

Still, it wasn't all 45s and grunt.  48s still got a regular gig, probably while some poor apprentice was trying to kick-start the 45 back into life over at Chullora.  On 16 June 1993 I discovered two locos shunting - 4810 and 48101 - here's proof!

And just to finish off, it wasn't all Alcos in those latter days.  In August 1993 I discovered 42213 masquerading as a shunting loco instead of the mainline unit that it was.

So, I hope you have enjoyed this vignette as much as I enjoyed hanging over the edge of those bridges a couple of decades ago!