Johnny's Pages
Old S.A.R. Shunter's Memories

 Page last updated:  26 July, 2016



IN  THE  1960's

Jamestown was a very busy reducing station for the Belalie North bank right up till the 3' 6" Narrow Gauge track was closed down from Broken Hill to Port Pirie after the 9th January 1970 and was replaced with a new Sydney - Perth Standard Gauge 4' 8½" that now bi-passed Belalie North and went out via Mannanarie to Yongala, thus no more reducing loads anymore.

This sounded the death knell of a fantastic Narrow Gauge era in South Australian Railway's history in the Mid North of South Australia, still to this day. Now all only pleasant memories left for those who knew and worked on this narrow gauge track.

I regard myself very fortunate to have been stationed at Jamestown from April 1963, till May 1970 as a station porter. Jamestown was round the clock working and a lot of shunting, mostly at night. I witnessed the narrow gauge come to its final end and the ushering in of the new and totally different rail era, the new Standard Gauge. It was, a very sad, sad, sad day and was not a pleasant feeling to see the old 3' 6" narrow gauge ripped up for those of us who loved the old S.A.R. It was like a close family member had died. Now all that's left is only these old pictures and some great Garratt and T class steam sounds to haunt me from the past on my computer.

Here I can at least, share some of my old ghostly images of when I was stationed at Jamestown in the 1960's, to come back for a moment or two to pleasantly haunt us of those absolute magic moments of that now long gone South Australian Railway era at JAMESTOWN.

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

First a couple of old pictures I've come across.
Click HERE for larger picture
              Click HERE for larger picture
Jamestown yard in those much early days. (pics by unknown)
Left picture:  The roadway train is over is the main Adelaide - Orroroo road
The homes to right of engine were the per way homes, now long gone.

Click HERE for larger picture

A 'Y' class locomotive on the left, and a 'U' class locomotive on train on the right at Jamestown Railway Station. The wooden station structure at right of picture was destroyed by fire on January 5th 1885. The station fire was willfully started.

  To read more "PRE 1936 INFORMATION"

Click HERE for larger picture
Map showing Jamestown on the Peterborough Narrow Gauge Division till 9th January 1970.
All UP trains from Port Pirie to Peterborough had even numbers. (e.g.  274)
All DOWN trains from Peterborough from Port Pirie had uneven numbers. (e.g.  275)

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

pic (a)
Click HERE for larger picture

pic (b)
Click HERE for larger picture

Jamestown Station September 1965

This was my workplace and home from April 1963 to Jan 1970, as the Station Master (Jack Kelly) had his own private residence in Jamestown township itself. I was so overjoyed when we shifted to Jamestown and found out I/we had to live in the Station Master's residence, it was like old times back when my father was a Station Master when I was a youngster at various stations he worked as Station Master and we lived in SM's residence. It is also called living on the job and I loved it.

Where you see the Jamestown station sign, (pic a) the window below was the start of the SM's (Station Master's) residence. That room and next one this way were bedrooms, then a side gate to residence from platform. The SM's residence had 3 big bedrooms, a lounge room with side entrance front door on other side of station and a lean-to type sleep-out just inside that side gate this side and on other side, a lean-to bathroom that had a wood chip fire heater to heat the bath water, a galvanised bathtub and hand wash basin. 

Between lean-to bathroom and kitchen was another side gate entrance out front of station. The kitchen area (pic b) can see chimney on flat roof in above on black and white picture with a long lean-to to provide weather cover going from the main building to the kitchen which was a stone building completely separate from the main building with a sink for washing dishes and a firewood heated stove/oven for cooking purposes.  Wood was plentiful (free) as we had to cut up old narrow gauge railway sleepers for firewood. Every large room had a big fireplace with high ceilings. Cool in summer but little hard to heat and keep warm in winter. 

The toilet (can see on back fence near gateway) was a "pull the chain" with an old dog spike for a handle and serviced by a septic tank (was only mod con) just outside the back fence. The a wash-house (laundry) next to kitchen had a firewood copper for heating the washing water to boil washing and a two compartment concrete wash troughs, one for scrubbing clothes and one for rinsing water with Bluo. (my my, one good thing was that the washing machine soon came along and did away with that hard hot chore) Both laundry and toilet were separate from the main building. 

Water for the house came from the big overhead railway water tank close by that supplied the steam engines with water. The water was originally supplied from two railway dams at the Caltowie end of the yard, later water was then connected into the Morgan Whyalla pipeline and dams then became redundant (now completely filled in as the Standard Gauge track runs through both of them) There was also a 12 feet deep by about 6 feet wide circular brick lined underground fresh water well, which was fed from the roof of the station with an old cast hand operated crank pump for drinking water. (the well water was always very cold water all year round)  It was a very comfortable home with very small back yard. A wood heap was near laundry to chop up the sleepers for kitchen stove, the laundry copper and wood chips for heating the bath heater. (actually those wood chip heaters were a great bath water heater, was like firing a miniature steam engine) Only a small area for a bit of garden to grow a few veggies and a freestone peach tree (had lovely fruit too). Not a lot of work could be done around the backyard. This for a keen railwayman, it was a real train heaven. 

Next to SM's residence was the main Station Office, then a walk through station passage, then the Station Master's office, a large room for luggage and parcel barrows (it was once a refreshment room in its hey day), then a store room near other end, a ladies waiting room with ladies toilets inside and at the very far end of station was the Gents toilets (not under cover)  Next to gents toilets was a storage room, then next to that store room on the platform side was a lamp room.

Alongside of the station was a subway for pedestrians to walk under the rail tracks to the main street, as the Jamestown railway yard was nearly in the center of Jamestown, as the railway yard actually did cut the town in half. The main Adelaide - Orroroo - Peterborough road crossing  was at the West (Caltowie) end of the rail yards. Another rail crossing was at the eastern (Belalie North) end of railway yard. Then between subway and crossing was the Gang's shed (per way). 

Click HERE for larger picture
Pedestrian subway under 5 tracks built June 1908.
Looking north from Goods shed (main street) side opposite the station.

Click HERE for larger picture
Jamestown yard (not to scale) layout till 1964
After 1964 the yard was lengthened for longer trains.

The fouling peg between the UP and DOWN main lines was right at the edge of the main road crossing itself. With a train sitting on the DOWN main (to Port Pirie) had to be on the very edge of the crossing to fit in clear to allow an UP train (to Peterborough) to cross it. It use to be quite daunting to road users seeing the engine(s) especially at night sitting right on the very edge of the main road crossing. No crossing gongs in those days. Everyone just had to be careful and most were, not like these days despite warning devices. In my 7 years there only one crossing accident when a down ore train to Port Pirie with twin diesels with 1,700 tons was sitting right on the Xing edge waiting to cross the up Brill Passenger Railcar and GB coming from Port Pirie at 10.05pm. The railcar was coming up through the low cutting sounding the horn and hit the road car square on dead centre and the car was then literally was pushed and slid up along track with car wheels each side of the rails, luckily for quite some distance past the twin diesels. Actually the car being hit dead centre did save the elderly occupants from serious injuries or worse as no one was hurt, just badly shaken up thankfully. If the car had been just 1 foot further over the tracks they would have been literally crushed between force of the Railcar and the twin 830 diesels with 1,700 tons of ore wagons behind them obviously with dire consequences. Unlucky, but lucky.  What caught the elderly folk out was they saw the twin diesels sitting right on the edge of the crossing stationary. They thought the sounding horn was from the that stationary ore train and there be plenty of time to get over the Xing before the train moved off.  They had not looked in the opposite direction for the on-coming Railcar and GB.

 ... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

This photo courtesy "Lionel Noble Photo Collection"
Click HERE for larger picture
Jamestown 1900

Click HERE for larger picture
Jamestown station looking in an easterly direction.
Click HERE for larger picture
Jamestown station looking westerly direction.

Click HERE for larger picture
Jamestown Station 1966 S.A.R Narrow Gauge.
Up and Down main line just been re-placed and a crossover removed.

In picture above can be seen the weigh bridge, crane, goods shed and half way down track between railway crossing and station you can also see the per-way gang shed where the "Casey Jones" quad and trolley were kept that serviced the Jamestown track area. There were 7 employees in the per-way gang. A head ganger and 6 packers. In the background on other side of station is the main Adelaide - Orroroo road and Jamestown Bowling Club.

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

Photo courtesy "Lionel Noble Photo Collection"
Click HERE for larger picture
Jack Kelly, Station Master Jamestown.
Retired in 1981.
Photo courtesy "Lionel Noble Photo Collection"
Click HERE for larger picture
Jack Kelly, Station Master Jamestown from 1957
holding an electric staff. 

Photo courtesy "Lionel Noble Photo Collection"
Click HERE for larger picture
Jamestown yard, station and Goods shed. 21st January 1969.
Looking East.

Click HERE for larger picture
Jamestown Station office & parcel area 1965.
Ticket office at left behind me.

Click HERE for larger picture
Terry Faulkner Parcel & Ticket Clerk 1965.
Ticket office right of picture.

Strange, I never took a picture of the small ticket office case and parcel storage area.
Tickets were accessed normally from front of station, though in my time most folk would come into the parcels office.
The station office did need some painting as it had seen far better days.  

Above picture left:  On left side of picture are two Electric Staff instruments, also just to right of staff instruments is the Party line phone where you can lift receiver and if anyone talking along the line you can hear everything that is said, also they can hear you while receiver is off the hook as it's a two way party line. The party phone was used to contact another station, you lift receiver and if no one on the line, then hang up, spin handle while pressing a button and ring a station code like, long - short - long (bit like morse code but not as complicated)

When I first went to Jamestown in April 1963 there was a Telegraph key board (morse code) till around early 1965 that sat on that table alongside the Electric staff instruments, but only the Station Master "Jack Kelly" knew how the use it proper. He was a most proficient telegraphist and a old school Station Master.

On the right side of above picture was the Peterborough "Train Control" phone (can just see edge of it in picture). 
Again you could hear everything going on the Train Control Phone, only Train Control could not hear you without the speak button held down. To speak to Train Control you had to lift receiver listen and wait till no one was speaking, then pull and hold down the speak switch, then call out your station name e.g. "Jamestown" lift finger off speak switch to hear Train Control. When he called out your station name, then hold the switch down again then talk. One was not suppose to listen (earwig) in on the TC phone unless actually using it, but it was interesting and often entertaining to earwig at times when things were quiet especially at night to hear what was going on all along the line from Cockburn to Pirie, to Terowie, also the Quorn and Wilmington lines at various times.

Train Control there was two Train Control boards. The Pirie board and the Cockburn board. The Assistant Train Controllers would work the Pirie Board from about 6am till around 11pm. A Train Controller (boss) would work the Cockburn, Terowie  and Quorn board and they would then take over both TC boards at 11pm till about 6am when the Assistant Train Controllers took back over the Pirie, Wilmington board.  So during the day and afternoon on the Pirie line one could ONLY hear what was going on from Peterborough to Pirie and up to Wilmington.  At night (after 11pm) one could hear everything all over the Peterborough division Terowie to Cockburn, to Quorn, to Wimington and to Port Pirie. Kept one in the know though. (grinning)

Alongside the Train Control phone can be seen the Train Order clip where the original train order copies were kept filed. Train orders were written out in triplicate using two pieces of double faced carbon paper. The top original copy we kept on file, the second copy was for the engine crew and third copy for the Guard.

The Phone on left wall was a "party line" phone, then also to the left can be seen two electric staff instruments sitting on what looks like high wooden boxes. The furtherest one was the "Jamestown - Belalie North" electric staff instrument. The "Jamestown - Belalie North" section and later it then became "Jamestown - Yongala" section when Belalie North was closed down as a crossing station. 

Alongside the Belalie North staff instrument was the "Jamestown - Caltowie" section electric staff instrument. Only one staff could be withdrawn from the staff instrument at any one time and then, only with permission from the Train Controller at Peterborough. These duralumin staffs were placed into a cane hoop (see hoops hanging on side of instrument box) and were handed to the engine crew for the safe working in each section. Electric staffs were used in conjunction with Train Orders as well.  

When a staff instrument got low on staffs, when more trains went in one direction, an electrical fitter did what was called a "staff balance" by unlocking the instrument and taking out the extra staffs, record them in staff register book and then take them to the other staff section instrument and put them in. The electrical fitter was only person ever allowed to unlock a staff instrument and another employee had to double check staff numbers as they went in and then sign in staff register book that they were all present and correct.  This all in the name of train working safety. Was a very good system, as the driver then knew once he had the correct staff for the section he then had the right of way to that section. No "head on" calamities. Puts him in the clear.

The room the other side of that Train Control phone and office fire place was our lounge room.  Actually one could hear the Train Control Phone ring sitting in the lounge room. (was handy) Cannot get closer to the job than that. Just 60 seconds and I was on the job, out of the station house front door and into station office door and book on. 

The fireplace in the office on afternoon and night shifts in winter we use to cut a narrow gauge sleeper in half (cross ways) and poke the two halves up the chimney alongside each other in the open fireplace. Once they got well going that would keep the office warm the whole late afternoon and night shift on very cold and freezing frosty nights. The office would also be so warm that when we would get 2 or 3 trains in yard at once, it was darn hard to get the engine crews and guards back out onto their trains. One could not blame them as we had plenty of severe "Jack Frosts" at Jamestown. Yongala was just up the road towards Peterborough and was well known to be the coldest place in South Australia. 

It snowed just out of Jamestown towards Belalie North twice in the 7 years while I was there, once as seen in the pictures below. Was pretty sight as I'd never seen snow before.

Click HERE for larger picture
Pictures above were taken out towards Belalie North. Actually it was the day after the Americans landed on the moon.
My car was a 1956 Ford V8 Customline, they made nice cars back then. Petrol was cheap in comparison to today's rip-off.

On this train order it states to the Engineman and Guard of 108 goods, engine 860 which is heading to Peterborough to take the Main line at Yongala and cross 185 passenger Railcar car number 104 which will be, or will take the Passing siding at Yongala. 
Note also this train order I wrote out was issued at 4:41am and it was about an hour to travel to Yongala. So that got 108 goods into Yongala around 5:45am which if the passenger railcar was on time that day, it was delayed a bit.  A train controller's nightmare was delaying a passenger train too much. 

Here on this train order it states to the Engineman and Guard of 554 roadside goods, engine 402 (Garratt) sitting at Jamestown which is heading to Peterborough to take the Passing Siding at Yongala and to cross 107 Goods (an ore train to Port Pirie) engine 860 (830 class Diesel) which will be, or, will take the Main line at Yongala. The fact 554 goods (Roadside train) is taking the Passing siding on this order, one could well bet 107 goods would possibly get a green light to run through Yongala.
Remember on Electric Staff territory, the Electric Staff is what controls the section, NOT the Train Order. 
The Train Order on Electric Staff Territory are only instructions given for a cross at an unattended station and other train working instructions that might need to take place in a section. (worked very well) Yongala and Caltowie were both unattended stations that were closed down in around the mid 1960's and both made unattended electric staff stations. 
Click HERE for larger picture Click HERE for larger picture
A demonstration above showing the correct way of changing an electric staff on the fly. 
BUT a lot of times in reality, the loco crew would drop his staff on the ground at your feet and take yours on the fly. Reason is if the train is doing some speed and your standing on the ground and you do not receive and move with the train momentum to received staff properly, the staff would slew up and around your arm and KO you in the back of your head big time. Not a nice feeling. Seen this happen in particular when working on Red Hens a few times at Albert Park on the UP from Grange during crosses in 1962.  One fellow it even knocked him out cold on the platform.

SPECIAL NOTE:  These exact same type of Train Orders were also used on Train Order Territory. That is, where only the Train Order itself governs train movements through the sections. Electric Staffs were excellent where there was a lot of frequent or high volume of train working going on, like in the early steam days. (40 trains a day) 
But on tracks where very few trains were used, (no staff instruments) then only a Train Order Working was used. On Train Order territory when issuing and repeating back a Train Order, all numbers and station names had to be spelt out, whereas a train orders on Electric staff territory was only repeated back, no spelling of stations and numbers were needed, unless actual Train Order working had been instituted because of staff instrument failures, but this was a very rare occurrence, well on the Peterborough - Pirie line anyway. 

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

Click HERE for larger picture
Yard from SM's residence March 1968
Note old bagged wheat sheds in background.
Also the
iced cool car for milk sent to Broken Hill,
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 
Picture taken from roof of the station house.

Jamestown Silos & weighbridge 1964
Old bagged wheat sheds next to silos in background.

Before grain silos were built, it was all bagged wheat stacked and loaded next to the track.

Wheat stacks c1916

Wheat stacks c1916


... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

Click HERE for larger picture
Jamestown Yard looking West towards Caltowie 1964.

Here can be seen to the other end of railway yard, also the old railway dams for water once used for steam engines, also some wheat loading at silo. The 4 cell silo had not been long built then. Can still see the start of the old bagged wheat sheds to left of picture. This picture was taken atop of the high Belalie North absolute "Home" yard entrance signal.

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

Click HERE for larger picture
Belalie North end of Jamestown yard with the cheeseknob interlocked switches and signal levers.

Here we are looking at first entrance switches which was a "cheese knob" switch, pinned and set for the DOWN main line with 2 signal levers for a Home and Distant signals which are shown here both pulled off ready for an arrival of a train coming from Belalie North. Note the track (down main) these switches are set for has a much brownish look track, it is actually rust from off the cast iron brake blocks. When the trains come into Jamestown from Belalie North the grade control valves are in the up HP position, (meaning all the brakes are slightly held on all the time to help engineman to control his train) and when a train came in you could often see at times molten cast globules dripping from the cast iron brake blocks, as there was that much heat generated in the braking coming down the steep Belalie Bank on fully loaded ore trains. On sunny days when train came in and all trains had to stop to re-adjust the grade control valves, you could see in the air a lot of silver glittering flecks of steel flying around everywhere. This the reason this down track has that rusty look about it, as it was the settled steel particles gone rusty. Most railwaymen's eyes over the years when we look up at the sky, one can see small specks everywhere, this is the slight scarring on the eyeball from over the years of those little slivers of steel from off the old cast iron brake blocks. 

The next track over was called the UP main line, where a high switch stand is showing that it is a main line. That was a late addition when yard was extended right to the main Adelaide - Orroroo road crossing. The signal lever on the left is for the "Distant" permissive signal which was some over a half mile away up the track. (see next picture further down) and the next lever alongside was for the "Home" absolute signal about where I took that picture. 

To pull these lower quadrant signals off, first you had to make sure the switches were set and pinned for the down main line, as the interlocking would not allow you to pull the signals off. Then you had to put your foot on left signal chain wheel to help take  the slack out of the long wire from all way out to distant signal, then pull the lever quickly to pull (jerk) the distant signal off. There was bit of a knack in doing that.  The "Distant" permissive signal was pulled first, then the "Home" absolute signal could be pulled to the off position for train to enter the yard without stopping.

Originally when I first came to Jamestown in 1963 all switches throughout the yard were cheese knobs. (back breakers) a little later all the main line cheese knob switches were changed over to the high Switch stands with kerosene lamps on top of them and coloured display panels by day, this was far easier to see if switches were correctly set from a distance day or night. 

Jamestown was unusual setup in as much concerning this entrance cheese knob switch, as normally all main line switches were converted to Switch stands, but for some unexplainable reason this particular interlocked cheese knob switch was still used here only on this "down main" facing switch till final closure of the Narrow gauge in 1970. Cheese knob switches were still used throughout the rest of the station yard.

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

All taken from atop the "Absolute Home" signal Belalie North end of yard 1967.   
Click HERE for larger picture

274 with twin 830 class diesels getting a "run through" the yard on Up main on a late Saturday afternoon,
and passes under me about to head up the Belalie North bank with empty ore (autos) and cattle wagons (hook) on the rear behind the autos.
       Click HERE for larger picture        Click HERE for larger picture        Click HERE for larger picture
(centre picture) At left side of engines can be seen the signal levers and cheese-knob and
on right side of engines the railway pushbike lying in the grass near sheep ramp.
Click HERE for larger picture
Great view from top of "Home" signal.
Here in the distance you can just see the high "Distant" signal,
also the track up into Riddles Vacuum Oil depot. 
Sheep yards in foreground and Cattle sale yards just over the roadway. 
The good old Guards Brake on rear of train with marker lamps. 

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

The "distant permissive" signal coming into Jamestown from Belalie North.

The very high "distant permissive" signal 

View atop of the "distant permissive" signal 

The signal light was only about a third of the way up the mast, was too hairy (very scary) having to climb to top as it was so high with a kerosene can to fill signals and clean wicks twice a week. The "home absolute" was bad enough. With the signal arm itself so high up it was much easier to see signal above the background from further back up the hill as the train came around the curve from Belalie North.

If you look carefully in larger picture you can just see a white speak above 3rd telephone pole that is the Absolute HOME signal. Now you see why it was so high up as well with that white slatted background. This is a 1 in 60 grade. All ore wagons had Grade Control Valves fitted to assist with helping to keep control the speed of the train while coming down from Belalie North, so plenty of warning was needed for trains entering the Jamestown station yard.

A train to have a brake failure down here from Belalie North would be a big tragic mess. Reason why the down main switches were always set for down main as to protect any train that may be sitting on the up main at the water column. Any shunt movements with up trains had to in clear of down main at least 10 minutes before expected arrival of a down train.

This cropped from bigger picture
This picture cropped from bigger picture

To view what the Lower Quadrant signals and lamps look like close up:-

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

Jamestown Yard looking towards Belalie North

Click HERE for larger picture
Before yard lengthening. Note crossovers
between up & down Main lines & 3rd road.

Click HERE for larger picture
Crossovers been removed
between Main lines & 3rd road.

 (new standard gauge track to left)
The beginning of the end of NG

The roads from left to right were, Turntable road, Cattle road, Sheep road, DOWN main, UP main, 3rd road (reducing road), 4th road, the straight (you can see several wagons on it, one the Broken Hill milk van) and wheat siding, which continued on up over the top road crossing into the Vacuum oil Company for rail fuel tankers. 

Turntable, water tower, water column and ash pit. Also can be seen in picture is a silver bogie iced cool car  wagon with X's, (one drop door)  Y's, (2 drop doors) and a YY all 4 wheel trucks next to it. This iced cool car wagon was loaded with tetra paks of milk for Broken Hill, bought by road from the Clare Golden North Dairies some 74 klms south of Jamestown. The milk would be loaded Monday, Wednesday and Fridays and picked up on 274 goods marshalled behind the empty ore wagons around 1:30pm to Peterborough, thence onto Broken Hill. 

Jamestown yard was unusual in as much it had an UP and a DOWN main line which were both interlocked with the switches and lower quadrant signals at each end of the yard and it was a pushbike job from one end of the yard to the other to set-up the switches and signals for trains to enter the yard. By the way signals could not be pulled off at both ends at same time. Only one train at a time could be admitted into yard.

The track nearest the sheep vans was the DOWN main, the next line over where water column and ash pit is, was the UP main. The next line over was the 3rd road for reducing loading because of the Belalie North bank. In this picture I would say the 3rd road in the 1964 picture had just been cleared out earlier in the morning as usually there was nearly always reduced loading on it, mostly "on" empty ore wagons and/or "Y" (2 drop doors) pyrites empties. Nearly all up steam trains reduced loading at Jamestown. Periodically a light engine and guards van would come from Peterborough and would clear out any excess loading. 
Once the twin diesels came fully online, very rarely was any loading reduced at Jamestown.

W.T.T. 239 of Sunday 12th November 1967 
(auto couplers had been fitted to the Garratts) 

1 x 830 2 x 830 400 Garratt  Tclass


Tons Tons Tons Tons

    Port Pirie.

1000 2000  1050 378

    Crystal Brook.

  835 1670 835 365


1270 2400 835 378


  750  1500 850 365


  950 1900 950 378


  530 1060 600 270

    Belalie North.

1000 2000 600 380


1000 2000 600 380



- - -



2100 2400   900   526


  875 1750   900   410

    Belalie North.

1750 2400 1750 1100

    Port Pirie.                       No tonnage changes en Route

Down goods trains must stop at Belalie North to adjust Grade Control Valves

When only HOOK couplers were used on the narrow gauge
Peterborough to Belalie North loads were:-

T + 400   1100 tons,
 2 x T's      820 tons.

The load for everything from Belalie North to Port Pirie was 1100 tons.

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

Delivery of first 830's)


Click HERE for larger picture    Click HERE for larger picture
Here shows how hook couplings were coupled to automatic couplings.

Now you see why all hook loading was behind auto couplings. Also it was a real juggling job to get hook drag pin out and back in again, as at times the drag pin would get burred over and a pickaxe from off the engine was needed, which was usually a long walk of some equal 60 wagons plus up to the engine, get the pickaxe from off the front of engine and return, meanwhile the clock is ticking against you all the time. So at times you were running. 
Also while fitting an adapter you had to be very careful that the engine driver not releases the train air brakes and the ore wagons with roller bearing wagons do not start to gently quietly roll back onto you as you had your back to the auto coupling.

This was scary stuff as a few employees had been caught this way, one I knew was killed. Roller bearing wagons were very hard to hear when starting to roll, especially loaded with ore, no creaking or groaning sounds. Realise too, this was all done mostly during the night with only a kerosene hand signal lamp as the only form of lighting. Was great fun, worse part was you would usually have the "Train Controller" on the phone wanting you to hurry up to get that train out quick to make a cross elsewhere.  So was some pressure and fun for one and all. A crook hook drag pin could very well make, or break your shift from relatively easy night, to a real absolute near nightmare. On stations like Jamestown you were literally on your own, with some help at times from the guard. You needed to be well organised for the whole shift, thinking ahead and yes most important, leave nothing to chance.

Grade Control Valves
These were used on bogie ore wagons from Belalie North to Port Pirie.

Click HERE for larger picture  
Click picture to see the enlarged picture with grade valve information.

On the Peterborough Narrow Gauge Division of the South Australia Railways we used Grade Control Valves which were fitted to most bogie wagons. Also there was a lot of four wheeled wagons, these were not fitted with these Grade control valves. Four wheeled vehicles which were always marshalled at rear of train behind the automatic couplings and going down the Belalie North steep grade the amount of four wheel wagons on any train was governed by how many bogie wagons were fitted with these Grade Control Valves.

When a train arrived at Belalie North from Peterborough The guard and fireman would walk along the train and set these grade control valves to the HP position (handle pointing up see picture above) on all these bogie wagons mostly ore wagons from Broken Hill, with silver, lead and zinc concentrates for the smelters at Port Pirie. When the train descended this steep Belalie grade, the first train brake application was made the train brakes would apply, but as soon as the train brakes were released, 7lb psi of air would be retained, so all the brakes were slightly on all the time coming down the hill, this was to assist the driver to recharge the air and so he does not run out of air and end up with a runaway train. From Belalie North to Port Pirie it was all down hill, with exception of a couple of places.

When a freight train arrived at Jamestown from Belalie North, the train would always stop and the guard and station staff would then turn all the Grade Control Valve handles into the horizontal or IP position. In the horizontal IP position it took extra time for brakes to release completely, again to give engineman time to recharge the braking system. 10 minutes was allowed for this job to be done. The GCV's would stay like this all the way to Port Pirie. 

      Here is an event that actually happened. 
Nothing to do with above GCV's but to show just how very important air tests on trains were and still is today.

This happened a couple of months before I came to Jamestown in 1963. 

A "T" class steam engine with a full load of 1,100 tons from Peterborough over Belalie North (Belalie was where the Garratt would have been taken off train) stopped at Jamestown on the down main to do the normal adjustments of the GCV's (Grade Control Valves). After the GCV's were adjusted, the driver decided he needed take on some water as Gladstone was the next usual watering hole for steamers. Taking water on the down main at Jamestown was not a normally done thing account the Belalie bank started about the watering column area. The station porter closed both the air taps on the engine tender and the ore wagon and then uncoupled the air hose. A normal procedure would be to release some air out of the rear train loading, so brakes would be at least slightly applied to prevent the train loading from possibly running away, also apply some hand brakes. Though applying hand brakes be rarely done as the actual bottom end of the Jamestown station yard was relatively level area be hard normally to move wagons. Taking water usually was less than 10 minutes anyway.

The engine was piloted over onto the up main to the water column. Normally 99.99% of the time on the NG there are always with any train consist be small air leaks on wagons on near every train and usually after a short while the brakes would then automatically leak on and apply brakes by themselves, but this train's loading held its air perfectly apparently. 
The engine was bought back onto the train and the air hoses were coupled up and the engine tender's air cock opened, but in the rush to get the train going the air cock on the train's loading was forgotten. (left closed) Probable reason, but this is no excuse, was because there was usually ALWAYS an urgent hurry to get trains out the yards as quickly as possible because of crosses (often very tight crosses) further down the track. Train Control would at times could innocently put a lot of pressure on train and station staff to meet their tight crosses, as controllers too had to explain train delays to the Superintendent, or those above as to the why's and the what for's in train delays. There is a lot more to train working than met the eye in those days.

The driver whistles to the guard to say we are ready to go, he's got the correct staff and the guard waves the flag to give right of way. Now a chain of events is about to happen very soon. The train pulls out the yard okay and there is no hint of any problems, heads out over the main Adelaide - Orroroo road crossing at end of yard and down the hill that leads up into Jamestown yard. Train now picking up some speed down the hill and usually the train only gets up to track speed at the bottom of the incline and train then has now gathered enough speed to get the train up and over Slattery's hill. 
Still no hint of anything is amiss. Over the hill and then it was all downhill for some 5 miles into Caltowie yard and beyond, fortunately not as steep as Belalie bank of course. The train now starting to pick up some extra speed as the loading starts pushing the engine. The driver then applies some braking to keep check the train's speed and suddenly the full realization hits home. Hell,,,, we have no train brake air, as now there is nothing to slow the train down now as the engine's air brakes are the only brakes and there is no way that the engine's brakes going down hill would slow or stop an 1100 ton train now gathering some momentum. Now things start to get bit scary.

The Fireman now panicing and wants to jump off, but driver says, "hang in there and stay with the train". The engineman realising what must have happened, (the air tap was not open) starts whistling madly to the Guard to attract his attention and hopefully to get him to pull the air tap in his Brake Van. This would have saved the day and the big trouble they all got into afterwards. Well the Guard hangs out his GB to see what all the whistling is about and sees the driver waving madly and he just waves back, apparently thinking they are just larking around. With that, the driver says to his Fireman, "Look, stay with the engine while I climb back over the tender onto the ore trucks and start winding on some hand brakes, we got to try and stop this before Caltowie". Climbing over the ore wagons is easy enough thing to do, but to try and climb down between the rear of the engine's tender and the auto coupling ore wagon to try to open the air cock on the ore wagon itself would have been very near suicidal to even try, as the straight air cocks on the ore wagons were back under the ore wagon a little way and very difficult to get at from above, not like the modern air taps of today as they are at the very end of wagon.  Note: If the couplings had been hook couplings with the old side chains, then it could be done very easy, but not with auto couplings with no side chains.

So while the driver was frantically climbing over ore wagons winding hand brakes full on, the Fireman sees a farmer plowing his paddock right alongside the track and screams out and waves madly to him yelling "We cannot stop", "We cannot stop" What the farmer could have done is still a mystery to me. Well, normally it was to be a cross at Caltowie with the Brill Railcar, but a little luck now. The railcar was running bit late and now the cross was to take place at Yanga, a siding station towards Gladstone.

The Caltowie Station Master was standing out on station platform with the electric staff and a train order in hand ready with a green flag for a "run through" to cross that railcar at Yanga. As the train went past him, the fireman was frantically screaming out, "We cannot stop", "We cannot stop" The S.M. open mouthed, wonders what's going on and next thing he sees the driver hanging on the side of an ore wagon still furiously winding hand brake on and the driver yelled out to the Station Master as he went past, "Tell the Guard to pull the air", "Tell the Guard to pull the air"  

As the GB (Guards Brake) approached the S.M. the guard was leaning out ready to grab the Train Order and the SM yells, "PULL THE AIR QUICK, the driver says he cannot stop the train". With that, the guard instantly pulls the air and all the brakes came on and the train finally comes to a stop half way out the other end of the Caltowie yard.  So all ended well in that respect, except the "T" class engine was a bit worse off for wear, as the drive rods were a mess from having engine wheels in reverse at times trying to help slow the train. 

So, now one can see what CAN happen if ever you uncouple a train, just make 100% sure you DO an air test BEFORE departure, meaning the guard stands at his Guards Brake checks the air pressure in his GB and then gets the driver to apply brakes to see and hear the brakes go on and then to release the brakes to be 100% sure the air brakes are in working order right up to his GB. Standing instructions anyway were that on every train where the train has been uncouple, a least a continuity air test MUST be done.  The guard and driver did not do this before the Jamestown departure, so, the Guard was put back portering, the Fireman put back as a cleaner and Driver put back as a fireman for a period of time.  A considerable loss of pay especially in those days as railway pay was not the best at anytime.


... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

Click HERE for larger picture          Click HERE for larger picture

Click HERE for larger picture

Jamestown Yard entrance looking east towards Belalie North end of yard.

The road crossing is the Adelaide to Orroroo - Peterborough highway. Picture was taken from top of Caltowie "Home" signal. Note the rodding to both these switch stand switches as both these switches were interlocked with signal levers near road crossing. (like a miniature open air signal cabin) The switches you see are set at present for "Down main" for a train to leave Jamestown yard for Caltowie later on.  The Signal levers (also had an annex key that locked the signal levers in the stop position to get the derail off for the 3rd  or 4th roads) for the Caltowie entrance signals. We would have to set the road (switches) first, then go back to crossing to pull the "Distant" signal  off first, then the "Home" signal. Then a train from Caltowie would come straight into the yard. (the railway term for signal, was "stick")

If sticks were off, (45 deg) then the Garratts and T's would come straight into yard and pull up to water column and start taking on water. Once the 830 class diesels appeared, quite often the up trains would get a "run through" (green flag by day and green hand light by night) exchange the electric staff on the fly, then it was full bore through and out the yard for the run up to the Belalie bank.  On a "run through" you better be sure the switches are set correctly at the Belalie North end of yard, or there would be a pair of smashed up interlocked switches as the freight train could not stop in time if found not set correctly. Bust a pair of these switches one was in serious trouble usually was "a caution" placed on your record, so one always double checked all the time.

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

This photo courtesy "Lionel Noble Photo Collection"
Click HERE for larger picture
Garratt 409 ore train No: 467 on down main. 1969.

Click HERE for larger picture
Johnny walking yard setting up for next train. 1964.
Click HERE for larger picture
274 Garratt on up main just finished taking water. 1964

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

Click HERE for larger picture  
From top of wheat silos looking west towards Slattery's Hill (top left in picture) then onto Caltowie
Building at bottom of picture is top of Jamestown freight shed.

At end of that dead end was the pedestrian path that goes through a subway under the yard rail tracks. You can just see the path that leads to the subway. The vacant block other side of pathway use to have run down per-way houses from early days, but were all bulldozed down and removed when the Housing trust built new prefab homes in Jamestown in the 50's well before I came there. An "X" single door four wheel wagon can be seen in the subway dead end, just off the Goods shed road. This dead end was mostly used to unload Mallee Roots and also for the Baby Health Car's monthly baby visit. 

A pedestrian subway dead end track was also used for the railway "Baby Health Car" when it visited Jamestown doing its regular rounds. The Mothers and Babies Health Car was very well patronised by the local Mums in those early 1960's days. 
The Baby Health Car was a converted 50ft lavatory car (semi-corridor) according to the line drawing. It was manned by a Sister Murphy who was qualified to tell the mums up the track how to rear their children. Last known whereabouts of this car was at Oodla Wirra where it was on blocks adjacent to the track, but it has long gone from there.

This photo courtesy of John Phillips.
Click HERE for larger picture
The Baby Health Car No2 ready to depart Peterborough
12th June 1966.
This photo courtesy of Jack.
Click HERE for larger picture

The Baby Health Car No2 Peterborough.

Click HERE for larger picture
From top of "Home" entrance absolute signal looking towards Caltowie 1964.
There were 2 dams, neither dams were used back then as Jamestown was on the Morgan - Whyalla pipeline.

Note the railway dams and pump house near trees, there were two dams that were once used for supplying water for the steam engines. Once the Murray River pipeline water came to Jamestown these dams were made redundant. When the Standard Gauge earthworks came along these dams were filled in and the Standard gauge track was built right through the very middle of them. In the distance the hill to right of tree was called Slattery's hill on other side was all downhill into Caltowie.
NOTE:   Amount of water held in each dam.
Jamestown No 1 dam:  17' 2"  =  8,385,000 gallons.
Jamestown No 2 dam:  17' 0"  =  3,720,000 gallons.   
                                    *20' 11"    5,614,000 gallons.  *Above 17 ft the capacity includes water in the channel between dams.

Click HERE for larger picture                 Click HERE for larger picture
These empty "Y" wagons were used for Pyrites from Quorn to Port Pirie.
Here you can see "Home" entrance signal in this derailment in 1969.
Also in left picture the new Sydney - Perth Standard Gauge track.


Click HERE for larger picture
This photo courtesy "Lionel Noble Photo Collection"
Click HERE for larger picture

  Looking towards Caltowie towards rear of train, there is a Garratt behind the GB (brakevan)
In these two shots note where the two dams were once at right right of picture
  are now both been filled in for the new Standard Gauge track. 1969.

Derailment story......
On the Peterborough Narrow Gauge Division, all trains the automatic couplings were up next to engine and all hook loading was behind the Auto couplings with the use of an adapter. See adapters.

So only auto coupling ore concentrate bogie wagons were up front of a train and all other hook type rollingstock were behind the ore wagons on the rear of all trains. This always meant shunting with long string of wagons up-hill out around curves. Pushing back into yard with big strings all down-hill into the station yard could be a very hairy experience, that is if the engineman and/or porter were not right on the ball at all times, it could then be a potential for a nasty mess.

This particular day the station porter decided to do the shunt from the rear of the train. I always preferred to pull the big strings of wagons from the front of the train, it was much quicker, also less train delay but as I mentioned it was much more hairy with those long strings of wagons. Anyway, the Garratt was run around the train with an adapter being used to couple to the GB at rear of train to pick up 5 fully loaded ballast hoppers on No3 reducing road that had been reduced from off a previous UP train. The consist then was Engine (Garratt), GB, then many empty Pyrites "Y" four wheel empties. At this point no problem till they picked up the loaded hoppers from off No 3 road and reversed out over the road crossing then down the steep grade and then the engineman made a mistake.

Instead of using the train brakes with the air through all the wagons, the driver used the engine brakes only and of course with all those light (5.7 ton) empty wagons in the middle between the Garratt engine with its full brakes on and with those 5 loaded ballast hoppers (heavy loading) on other end, the empty Y wagons could not take the pressure of the 5 ballast hoppers shoving them, the empty Y wagons just rose up off the track spilling the Y trucks out both sides of the track. Could easily happen to anyone not thinking.

BTW that Garratt in top right picture was from off the next DOWN train that helped to re-rail it all. The "Y's" that could not be easily re-railed were then pushed over and retrieved few days later. Did not take long to clear the track with no track damaged.

August 27th 1961
(Belalie North Days)

Click HERE for larger picture
Click HERE for larger picture

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

Click HERE for larger picture

Fireman on Garratt 409 taking water on down main behind 275.
NOTE:  409 is now a static display at the National Rail Museum at Port Adelaide.
to see her at National Rail Museum.

Click HERE for larger picture
Normally the Garratt was detached, took loco and returned light engine to Peterborough.
On this particular day because of derailment down the track all the ore loading was parked on sheep siding. 
The Garratt is now on other end of the Guards Brake nearly ready to return to Peterborough. 

In steam days till about 1964 (before 830 diesels started to take over) ore trains would work into Jamestown double headed as a "T" and Garratt. The "T" was always leading and would stop short of stock siding - turntable and detach the "T" towards turntable. Once the Garratt left for Port Pirie, the "T" would be turned, take loco (water etc) and if no up train to attach it to from Pt Pirie, it would return light engine to Peterborough.  Often we would remove the Garratt and the "T" by itself would pull the loading onto Port Pirie. The Garratt returned light engine. Jamestown was a reducing station for Belalie Bank, reason it was a busy place for train working.

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

This day was a very special day
402 at right is now a static display at the Zig Zag Railway. Lithgow, N.S.W.

to view 402 at Zig Zag Railway. Nov 2004.

All 400 class Garratts were cut up with exception of 402 and 409.

Click HERE for larger picture
Beyer Garratts 400 class

Here Garratt 402 (now light engine) sitting on DOWN main was taken off a previous down train 275 and a "T" class engine took the train onto Port Pirie. Garratt 401 on train 274 sitting on UP main has just come from Port Pirie heading onto Peterborough and has just finished taking water.

Here below  is the story about what happened with these two Garratts after the above picture was taken.

The first coupling and working of two Bayer Garratts was at Jamestown

I often to wonder why two Garratts could not be coupled and worked together and this bought about it actually happening. At Jamestown we would often detach a Garratt from a down train that had helped a "T" class (the "T" always headed first) to pull loading over the Belalie Bank into Jamestown and the Garratt would after detaching return light engine back to Peterborough. All UP trains had preference over any light engines and they would have to wait till the UP freight cleared the Jamestown - Yongala (1 hour) section. When the Garratts were sitting there side by side and I wondered why they could not be coupled together, as I could see no visual reason as to why not. 

This particular day in the late 60's we had taken a Garratt 402 off 275 Down train, the "T" class took the train onto Port Pirie on its own. The Garratt took water on down main as 274 UP train (from Pirie) its arrival was not that far away, so normally had to stay at Jamestown till 274 cleared the 1 hour Jamestown - Yongala section. 274 arrived with Garratt 401 and took water and both Garratts were sitting side by side, as in the picture above. There was another DOWN (extra) train on its way over from Yongala still some 45 minutes away, so 274 and the light engine had to wait for the cross. Normally the Garratt on down main would have been shifted over onto the 3rd reducing road to clear the down main line for the arrival of extra. I was talking to the drivers of both engines about coupling the two Garratts together and was told that two Garratts cannot be coupled together, as it has something to do with the cow catchers and air hoses, they said. So I asked, "has this ever been actually tried out before", the answer was, "no, not to their knowledge". 

After some more discussion finally I convinced the drivers of the light engine and of 274 maybe we could at least give this a try, as we had plenty of time till the extra down train's arrival, even they had to admit they could not see why not. The engineman of the light engine said, "okay, we will give it a go and see if it can be done".  So we coupled 402 to 401 together and immediately one could see it looked okay. The driver of the light engine then pulled forward to stretch the couplings to limit to see and sure enough it was fine, then reversed back hard to squeeze the couplings up tight and "bingo" still no problem. Only slight difference was that the air hoses rested a little on the cow catchers, but no problem.

I then asked both crews if I speak to Train Control and if I can get permission to do this would you take the train out and of course was told by the crews that permission from the Loco Forman was needed, not the Train Controller, so I jumped on my old trusty railway pushbike headed back to the station like there was no tomorrow, spoke to Train Control about this and he said "You cannot couple two Garratts together" Well, I said, "we have got both engines already coupled together now". Oh! he said, "well hang on, I'll ring the Loco Forman". I heard control telling the Loco Foreman what I said and his immediate reaction was "You cannot couple two Garratts together" I interrupted and said, "but we have them already coupled together right now and both crews say they are quite happy about this". The loco Forman then said, "go get the drivers to speak to me will you" At that I jumped on the pushbike and took off like a rocket back up to the engines and both engineman walked, actually quite quickly to the station and both spoke to the Loco Foreman and the Loco Foreman then told them, "Okay, if your both happy about this, then is okay to bring them back working together".

Well, the drivers and I were all excited about this happening, (a first) and after the down train came in and changed the electric staff over and I took the Yongala staff up and gave it to the leading engineman. The most spectacular sight was soon to unleashed and beheld, Twin Garratts roaring out the Jamestown yard straight off the ashpit heading up the notorious Belalie bank, that was the fastest I ever saw an UP train leave the yard with not one, but, two GARRATTS heading out the Jamestown yard, with the guard was hanging onto his hat for dear life and was actually laughing as his guard's van literally whizzed past. Man that was one incredible sight and SOUND and only I got pictures of it, though only with a "mickey mouse" camera, but it was a picture anyway.

Explanation why this twin GARRATT working never happened before

When the 400 class Garratts were first in service in 1953 they had hook couplings and side chains and could not be coupled together because of the cow catchers and air hoses, but later around 1962-63 the Garratts were converted over to automatic couplings as was all the ore bogie wagons. For some reason, no one had never tried (or had no needed reason to try it) to couple and work two Garratts together. Probably because before Belalie North station was closed down for good and the staff section now became Yongala - Jamestown. A Garratt would be detached at Belalie North and it would then return light engine to Peterborough for the next Pirie train, as their was no need to ever double head engines from Belalie North downhill back into Peterborough. 
But from Jamestown to Peterborough this was entirely different a thing altogether as Jamestown being a reducing station with often having reduced loading sitting on the 3rd Road, now with the twin Garratts can easily take any spare loading up over Belalie North to Peterborough, no reducing anymore.

In the mid 60's that section Yongala - Belalie North  had now became Yongala - Jamestown, now a 1 hour section instead of two sections of near 30 minutes. This at times often left a "T" or a Garratt engine sitting at Jamestown after pulling a full load over Belalie North. Jamestown was in right position now for this twin Garratt working situation to happen over Belalie North back into Peterborough. 

Also in mid to late 60's the 830 class diesels were doing most of the work while the standard gauge was being built and then the 830's were slowly being withdrawn from off the narrow gauge and the Beyer Garratts were now being bought back into service doing the full train working again. This was done right up till the very end of the narrow gauge over a year away in 1970. 

Often we had three 830's work out of Jamestown back over Belalie to Peterborough, so there was never any reducing done then. Engine changes with the 830 diesels still took place with most down trains at Jamestown or Caltowie, occasionally Gladstone. Twins that worked from Peterborough over Belalie to or through Jamestown were taken off down trains and placed on the Up train to take all  loading back over Belalie North to Peterborough.


Here are the pictures of the first time double headed Garratts
leaving Jamestown for Peterborough.

Click HERE for larger picture
Garratt Action:  402 leading and 401 ready to depart Jamestown for Peterborough in 1968.

Here is first time ever, twin Garratts were put together and worked out of Jamestown back to Peterborough. This was done a few times afterwards, but only out of Jamestown. So this picture above is first time double heading SAR Garratts were used. Only other time twin Garratts (400 and 401) worked together was on the last through trip by Garratts from Port Pirie to Peterborough both travelling in reverse on 554 on 9th January 1970, when the narrow gauge track was finally closed down forever.

Click HERE for larger picture
Always thundering black smoke.

Click HERE for larger picture
Twin Garratts heading out of Jamestown to Belalie North.

Oh yes! what a sight to behold and what a sound that was, the roar was just fantastic and can still hear it.
Now gone forever, except on my computer to re-live those wonderful steam Garratt sounds.

CLICK to hear Garratt engine sounds and go back to the 1960's.
South Australian Railways Narrow gauge Bayer Garratt 4-8-2 + 2-8-4

Play sound    file:  1.4megs

Turn your sound well up for a realistic memory sound.
as these were,,, very noisy engines under heavy load.

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...


(This pic by Ron Porter)
Click HERE for larger picture
Garratt 406 up on train 274 crossing Garratt 404 down on 275
at the Caltowie end of the Jamestown yard, early 1969.

Click HERE for larger picture
Garratt working in reverse on 274
Like a volcano and sounded like one.
Click HERE for larger picture
274 goods heading out from Jamestown.
Beyer Garratt 406 getting stuck into it, heading
 up the Belalie North bank. Plenty of smoke.
Wonderful days.

Click HERE for larger picture
Bayer Garratt 406 leaving Jamestown with full load up the Belalie North bank.

Note the very high Absolute Home signal with a white slatted background board to make the signal much clearer from a longer distance. Both the Belalie North "home absolute" and "distant permissive" signals were very high, so train crews could easily see them coming down from Belalie North, as the Belalie Bank was very steep and plenty of warning was needed to stop a train if needed coming down that Belalie North bank. The grade was 1 in 60 virtually off the Jamestown ash pit and water column. So the engines needed to get stuck into it from a standing start straight off the ashpit.

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

These next six Y97 pictures
courtesy of John Phillips.

(John Phillips)
Click HERE for larger picture

Y97 leaving Yongala for Jamestown after
crossing  an empty concentrates train sitting
at station for Peterborough.  9th Oct 1967.
(John Phillips)
Click HERE for larger picture

Y97 between Yongala and Belalie North.
The dip out from Yongala. 9th Oct 1967.

(John Phillips)
Click HERE for larger picture

Y97 taking water at Jamestown over ashpit on
 the UP main.  Engineman Paddy Harding oiling and
 Stan Burns Loco Inspector (in dustcoat).
(John Phillips)
Click HERE for larger picture

Y97 on first curves out of Jamestown
 (seen in background) heading to Belalie North
9th October 1967.

(John Phillips)
Click HERE for larger picture

Y97 on second curves out of Jamestown towards
Belalie North.  9th October 1967.
(John Phillips)
Click HERE for larger picture

Y97 standing at Belalie North from Jamestown
heading to Peterborough.  9th October 1967.

 9th October 1967
Click HERE for larger picture

Y97 on Jamestown turntable.

 9th October 1967
Click HERE for larger picture

Y97 arrives Jamestown

This engine in the 1960's was only seen on historical runs. The main fleet was Beyer Garratts (400 class) "T" class and 830 diesel engines. The "Y's" were the small workhorse from older times. This engine is only Y to survive and is now in the Port Dock Museum. This engine ran more than 832,000 miles, was used in and around the Peterborough Loco sheds, even at the close of the narrow gauge in 1970.

Click HERE for larger picture
T251 here has just taken off a down train to Port Pirie
 to now return light engine to Peterborough.
Click HERE for larger picture
251 on 294 just taken water. 1963

Note: hook coupling, as most "T's" had hook on front and an automatic coupling on rear. Jamestown had a turntable that could only turn engines up to a "T" class, Garratts were far too long and in any case Garratts could work either direction at same speed. Most times the "T's" headed Garratts to assist with getting loading over the Belalie Bank into Jamestown, either the "T" (most times) or the Garratt was taken off and returned to Peterborough light engine, or, was at times attached to next up train from Pt Pirie to take any extra previously reduced loading back over the Belalie Bank into Peterborough.

To turn engine it had to be balanced or no turn.

T 253 on Jamestown turntable Saturday 31st May 1969.

Click HERE for larger picture

Caltowie on return to Gladstone, Saturday 31st May 1969. 
( These 3 above pictures:  Cliff Olds )

The ARHS ran a tour to Gladstone hauled by 526, then T 253 to Jamestown and return. 
I  (
Cliff Olds)  worked as S.M. Georgetown in the morning and had booked for the narrow gauge leg only because of that.  It was a cold and very wet day, despite the sunshine on the turntable shots.   

CLICK to hear engine sounds and go back to 1964.
South Australian Railways Narrow gauge "T" class leading a Bayer Garratt
Play sound file:  4.2
"T" and GARRATT  head off towards Belalie North

The magnificent sound of a double headed train with a
"T" class leading a Bayer Garratt heading out of the station yard at full throttle.
Turn your sound well up for a realistic memory sound.

Sorry no LARGER picture
Picture of a T class and Beyer Garratt working together.
pic: unknown )

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

Click HERE for larger picture
75 class Railcar is seen here on a Saturday morning returning from Pt Pirie.

Saturdays the railcar would leave Peterborough and arrive through Jamestown at 6:10am proceed to Port Pirie and return back through Jamestown around 11am. But Monday to Friday would see the Railcar through Jamestown at 6:10am and would return back through Jamestown at 10pm that evening. Excellent passenger service, also road bus departed Jamestown station at 5:30am for Riverton, thence to Adelaide by passenger train ex Terowie.
It was a real challenge to keep 482 a through freight train ahead of the railcar departing not later than 9pm through Jamestown as the trip from Jamestown to Yongala was about an hour, would just clear the section in time for the railcar to take a staff. So if we could not keep 482 ahead, then, it stayed at Jamestown with 513 wayside freight and the railcar crossed 513 and passed 482 and for whoever was on duty it was one hell of a very busy night splitting and parking these trains, plus parcels in and out was done all on your own. Also at 10:10pm the road bus from Riverton via Clare (picked up passengers from off the Adelaide - Terowie line) would arrive at Jamestown with all the trains as well. At times it was a near nightmare, so it was a very good incentive to do your utmost to keep the trains on schedule, plus to keep the Train Controller very happy.

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

Click HERE for larger picture
Here on another Saturday Morning at 11am is the old and the latest. 
Railcar &  830 class diesel.

This 830 was the new kid on the block in 1965 and was taken off 275 down goods for Port Pirie and this engine then returned to Peterborough light engine once the railcar had cleared Yongala. This was bit unusual, as they must have needed the power back in Peterborough urgently for another train. The last up train on Saturday's usually came through Jamestown around 2 to 3pm. 

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

Click HERE for larger picture
1937 Morris Motor Inspection Car, or in railway terms, an MIC. December 1968.

The MIC was used by the railway heads to travel the track, also was used for the fortnightly Pay car. 
Note the turntable disk under MIC.  In early days I heard the MIC referred to as "The Dort car" do not know why.

Since added trivia:  The SAR had a long history of running MICs. Morris's, Dorts, Bedfords and of course the later Landcruisers.  Looks like the name Dort car stuck with the later MIC versions, though the one above not a true Dort car by nature.  Thanks to "Ralph Uppill"

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

Click HERE for larger picture
    Click HERE for larger picture
These were the
first 830's to appear at Jamestown Narrow Gauge 1963.

Left pic:
The Jamestown yard just been extended out over the crossing to cater for longer trains with diesel introduction.
First twin Diesels to appear on Narrow gauge seen here above were taken off 275 (down) and then worked 274 (up) train back to Peterborough. Part of the 274's GB can be seen in picture on the up main. In this picture a Garratt would have worked from Port Pirie to Jamestown to the cross and the Garratt would have been changed engines over from 274 to 275 and then the Garratt worked back to Pirie as the twin 830's would have been needed back at Peterborough for next train to work over Belalie North, till other 830's came online.  Not often twin 830 diesels worked right through to Port Pirie, we still use to do engine changes with 830's at Jamestown, Caltowie or Gladstone depending where the cross was to take place. (because twins were always needed for loading over the Belalie bank)

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

Click HERE for larger picture
Three 830's on 274 pulling out of Jamestown heading to Peterborough October 1968.

This day they were also taking spare NG carriages back to Peterborough from a Port Pirie Smelters Picnic train the day before. The Port Pirie smelters picnic were a yearly big excursion.

A note of interest here:  The sheep ramp as you can see here is a side loader ramp and a dirt mounded dead end. All hook loading and sheep and cattle vans were all had hook couplings with side chains and all hook loading was always marshalled behind the automatic couplings. So this meant we were always shunting with huge strings and trying to place these sheep vans to the side loading sheep ramp sorely tested the most patient engine crew, especially those when shunting with the Bayer Garratts. If you overshot the sheep vans too much the vans could possibly go up the dirt mound and then topple over onto the main line. (big trouble then) To my knowledge this never happened, although I did see once (not me by the way) a four wheel sheep van half way up the mound with a slight lean towards main line, now that was a close call in my view. Also realise, most shunting was done at night as the two roadside trains, 513 down at about 8:30pm and 554 up at 2am, so all night shunting was done with kerosene hand signal lamps, (red and green shades) that had its terrifying times if the wick blew out, but that went with the interesting job, it was never boring. Quite testing at times, sure was.

NOTE:  Often three 830 diesels worked through or out of Jamestown back to Peterborough. Not often did twin 830's would work through to Port Pirie. They would work out of Peterborough as twins to get the 1,750 tons loading over Belalie North into Jamestown, then one 830 could take the 1750 ton train onto Port Pirie. These twins would only work mostly to the cross of the UP goods from Port Pirie to get any excess loading back over Belalie North. There was no need to reduce at Jamestown anymore. 

As example. 275 DOWN train to Port Pirie would work out of Peterborough with twin 830's and work to the cross of 274 UP from Port Pirie. The cross could be at Gladstone, Caltowie or Jamestown, although most times the cross took place at Caltowie. The Port Pirie train most times would be a single 830 and when it met the 275 DOWN with twin 830's, the twin 830's would be changed over with 274 and returned to Peterborough, a single 830 returned to Port Pirie on 275. It wasn't long this move was found to be not according to SAR rule book at an unattended station, as technically the UP and DOWN trains showed on a Train Order to have crossed themselves (Caltowie being an unattended station) This move was okay at Gladstone and Jamestown as these were attended stations (no train orders needed for the cross) it then got complicated where the rear 830 on the DOWN had to be placed behind the engine on the UP. This then showed officially that both leading engines actually crossed each other according to the issued Train Order.

This is then what would happen at Caltowie. It depended which train arrived first of course, but basically the twins would be detached and placed on next track, (main line or passing siding) then the single 830 would back onto the twin 830's. The crews would then detach the lead DOWN engine and the other crew would attach the (now middle) 830, then change over engines, the Port Pirie crew on the DOWN and Peterborough crew on the now UP twins. The now UP twin 830's would be put back onto the UP train and the single 830 put back on the DOWN train, then a continuity air test and both trains now ready to do a legal Rule Book cross according to the issued Train Order and both crews return to their own depots. The single 830 to Port Pirie and twins to Peterborough. Most crews preferred the cross to take place at Jamestown or Gladstone of course as the station staff then helped with this engine maneuver.

At times odd twins did work right through to Port Pirie, this was not often. When this did happen the next DOWN train from Peterborough with twin 830's crossed the UP with twins out from Port Pirie, one 830 was removed from DOWN train and then placed on the UP train with the twins, thus resulting in three 830's working back to Peterborough out of Jamestown. (See picture above of three 830's heading out of Jamestown towards Peterborough).


... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

Jamestown station mid 1965
Click HERE for larger picture
Before the standard gauge line came to town.
Jamestown station mid 1969
Click HERE for larger picture
The OLD Narrow Gauge yard left and other side
 of the station is the NEW standard gauge line.
Picture at right:
Here progress has come upon the old Narrow Gauge. A now standard gauge 830 class loco with ballast plough and ballast wagons on new Standard Gauge track going past in front of the Jamestown station heading towards Caltowie. Jamestown Bowling green can be seen in background and main road to Orroroo and Peterborough. Also in this picture you can see the pedestrian subway at top end of station for the public to cross under the rail yard to give easy access to the main street.  The rail yard actually cut the town in 2 parts.

Also worth noting the down main (track closest to station) note how brown the ballast track is, as mentioned before that is rusting brake blocks particles from the use of heavy braking applications of the heavy ore down trains with grade valves in HP position. Brake blocks on these trains could be seen glowing red hot at night was quite a sight.

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

(Peter Knife)
Click HERE for larger picture
( This photo of 404 courtesy of Peter Knife. Pt Lincoln. SA.)
404 pushing empty ore wagons in clear on 3rd road at Jamestown 2nd January 1970
A few days before the final closure.

Here is Peter's own words sent with his photo

Unfortunately the day was getting pretty late in the day and the sun had gone by then. It was 404 on 467 and from memory I think 404 was used simply to relocate the ore hoppers in the yard. The hoppers certainly weren't on 467. We followed 467 from Peterborough through to Caltowie that day, then rode in the cab of 401 on 482 from Caltowie back to Peterborough. That was a memorable experience, with the Garratt running in reverse at night and the oil fire periodically flashing out the side of the firebox. Looked like lightning! 

My notes say that 482 was at Jamestown from 8:50pm to 9:15pm, that we took water and that a bogie gondola was added to the train.

Johnny's bit.
Yes the time would be right, 482 leaving at 9:15pm. That would have been the deadline to leave Jamestown ahead of the passenger railcar, as the run to Yongala was about an hour and the railcar was due at Jamestown from Port Pirie at 10:10pm, so 482 would have just made it in time to clear the Jamestown - Yongala section for the electric staff to be drawn for the railcar to proceed to Yongala.  That movement would have made the Train Controller's day, he would have been smiling.

From Peter's reply records of the cab trip.
Full timings for the trip that night: Caltowie dep. 8:26pm, Jamestown 8:50 - 9:15, Belalie North 9:44-9:47, (take-outs) Yongala 10:06-10:16, Peterborough arrive 10:38pm. That Yongala arrival (10:06) was just in time! 

Click HERE for larger picture

275 last Down Garratt to Port Pirie 9th January 1970.

Here I'm handing the staff up to the Fireman of 404 on 291 down clearing out all wagons. This day we picked up a louver van from the Goods shed for Gladstone and all that was left in the yard were the reduced empty ore wagons that can be seen on the 3rd road. Later that evening 554 headed by two reversed Beyer Garratts number 400 and 401 after picking up the empty ore wagons on the 3rd road. Was a long train. I road in the second engine cab of 401 to Belalie North as we literally roared out of Jamestown up the Belalie Bank that evening, (fantastic memory) this was my last goodbye to narrow gauge working and Garratt 401. My wife picked me up at Belalie North.

Click HERE for larger picture

Last Crew that worked 291, the last down Garratt, 9th January 1970
Left:  The guard, Ron Harris.               Right:  The fireman. ??

Click HERE for larger picture
Picking up louver van from shed road

Click HERE for larger picture
Heading off to Caltowie from down main.

Click HERE for larger picture
Impressive sight as she sidles past

Click HERE for larger picture
Last Garratt on the down.... into history.

Garratt 404 in above pictures worked back to Peterborough from Port Pirie as THE very last steam train 610. The Garratts are still to this day are my very favourite engine. Two survived the cutter's torch, 402 is at Zig Zag Railway in New South Wales and 409 is in Adelaide as a museum piece at Port Dock, now National Rail Museum. Rest were cut up for scrap. Very sad. These engines were only built in 1953 and worked up to 1970, (17 years) so not a lot of steam life, but did a massive job very successfully. 

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

Click HERE for larger picture
S.A.R Peterborough Guard, Lindsay Millard
at rear of 274 at Jamestown in May 1967.

Lindsay in his brakevan heading back to Peterborough. >>>>
Click HERE for larger picture

Click HERE for larger picture 

S.A.R Peterborough Guard, a young Danny Vandernende
taking a run- through Jamestown on 274, Dec 1968.

Click HERE for larger picture 

I met Danny at Peterborough on 4th May 2005  37 years later and yes, Danny is still smiling.

Guards and engine crews from Peterborough and Port Pirie would work to the cross of each other, then change over crews and return to their home stations. Train crosses took place mostly at Caltowie. At times at either Gladstone, or, here at Jamestown. The guard and motorman of railcar would always work through to Port Pirie and return that same night on the return up railcar.

TILL  THE  FINAL  TRACK  CLOSURE on 10th January, 1970.

Click HERE for larger picture
Peterborough  -  Port Pirie - line.
Click HERE for larger picture
Cockburn, Terowie, Quorn, Wilmington - lines.

So endeth the loved Narrow Gauge,

au langz sine
Bayer Garratt, T class and
Peterborough Division
Click to view "Farewell to what once was"
Short movie of a time now long gone by

Click to View  "Jamestown old NG Yard 40 years on"

And the beginning of a new rail era, that is if one can call it that.

Click HERE for larger picture
Jamestown Station, goods shed, stock ramp taken from Main North road. August 1983.

Click HERE for larger picture
New SG Jamestown Station Feb 1970
Click HERE for larger picture
Jamestown SG Freight Shed Feb 1970
Click HERE for larger picture
Railway prefab home we shifted into Jan 1970

Once the narrow gauge was finished on 9th January 1970, (sad day) we were all shifted out to the new standard gauge Jamestown "dog box" station out on the edge of town and yes it was literally out of the town and looked more like a whistle stop stuck in a 40 acre paddock, instead of a railway station. This was bit hard to take to this after the narrow gauge days. My wife and I also had to shift out of the old Station House to another railway prefab home on the eastern side of the town as the old Station House was then handed over to be made into a  Museum. After a few weeks out at new Standard Gauge station things were bit quiet, as bugger all shunting to do now and no shift work anymore as CTC signalling meaning only one employee needed for day work, so being the junior of the two porters in service I agreed reluctantly to go to Peterborough relieving working three shifts and travelling back and forward each day (44 klms) while the Standard Gauge yard was being sorted out and spent most of my time admitting trains from Broken Hill into new marshalling yard and piloting engines to and from Peterborough loco through the Peterborough station yard out the other side to the new marshalling yard where the Broad and Standard gauge bogie exchange was. At times crews would book on, prepare engines and by time they got put onto their train they were relieved by another crew before they even got out the yard, such was the mess during conversion. Here I saw the first CL engine from Sydney arrive and it looked huge compared to the usual 830's on narrow gauge and 600's that were used on the ballast trains of the standard gauge as it was being built.  

The thing I remember the most about the Peterborough marshalling yard in early 1970, was those persistent easterly very cold winds and at night it was so darn freezing (wind chill) in the marshalling yard. Well Yongala was only a few klms just down the road between Peterborough and Jamestown and is said Yongala to be "THE" coldest place in South Australia.

After some time I could see the writing was on the wall with our jobs on the line and coming like an express train, so then decided is better take a shift to somewhere I would at least prefer to be, than get forced shifted up to Peterborough as I could easily see Peterborough's days were well and truly numbered now that the Standard Gauge has arrived. I never did like the city life, as I started my railway career in Adelaide car sheds and once qualified in tickets, then started working on the suburban Red Hens, till fully qualified and took a country shift to Jamestown, so the further away from the city for me, the better.

I would have preferred Port Lincoln as a first choice, but to get shunter's jobs over there someone had to either retire, or push up daisies. An assistant shunter's job then came available at Mount Gambier, so I took it and we shifted there late May 1970 and I started work at Mount Gambier on June 1st 1970 and within 3 months was a supervising shunter.  I've never ever had any ideas of ever becoming a guard, the one thing I would have disliked the most, was those "tucker box" jobs. (stuck in barracks was not my thing) If I could have put up with doing tucker box jobs, I would have become an engineman, so shunting suited me perfectly and got paid for doing something I dearly loved doing the most. Plus it kept me quite fit with plenty of running around.


No LARGER picture

  Jamestown Yard in 1968 and later in 2000. 

... click on the small pictures to view a larger picture ...

( Pics Leonard (Spike) Jones aged 67 )
Passed away: 29-06-2014 

13th December 2012
Click HERE for larger picture

2210 grain Loading on silo road. Jamestown.
13th December 2012
Click HERE for larger picture
2210 grain Loading on silo road. Jamestown.

13th December 2012
Click HERE for larger picture
2210 grain Loading on silo road. Jamestown.
13th December 2012
Click HERE for larger picture
2210 grain Loading on silo road. Jamestown.

13th December 2012
Click HERE for larger picture
2210 grain Loading on silo road. Jamestown.
13th December 2012
Click HERE for larger picture
2nd engine GM40 grain Loading on silo road.

No LARGER picture

These two aerial pictures were taken while flying over Jamestown in a Jabiru, January 2000.

No LARGER picture

  Johnny's Rail History
Click to read "Johnny's Rail History"

In January 2000 I flew to Jamestown from Gawler in a two seater Jabiru.
Click to view "Flight to Jamestown in Jabiru"
Read about the Ultra-light aircraft flight viewing.


        A MEMORY of FIRST CONTACT with TRAIN CONTROL in April 1963

This a bit of a laugh now, but definitely was not funny back then in 1963.

After I was fully qualified I had to take a country position so left the big smoke and the suburban Redhens for Jamestown (between Gladstone and Peterborough) on the Narrow Gauge in the Mid North of S. A. Once at Jamestown came on Road Bus had couple days to unpack our furniture into the SM's house which was attached to Jamestown station. The SM (Station Master) Jack Kelly had his own home in the town as he had a very large family. 

My first day as a raw station porter was on a Monday first working week under supervision on day shift. I was given a week on each of three shifts Day, afternoon and night to learn the ropes. By then you were on your own on afternoon shifts as after 5pm everyone else went home and on night shift as well till 8am when the Station Master booked on, so was very important that one learnt the ropes pretty quick. On afternoon and night shifts the only person you have any contact with is yes,,, a mysterious fellow on a phone called "TRAIN CONTROL" and they to a newbie is just a voice on a Train Control phone which was situated at Peterborough and they not concerned who you are outside of their trains, they too busy controlling trains as they got their own job to do, as you do on the outlying stations. Personally speaking, from all the years I've worked with Train Control, I would not have liked to do their job, stuck in a little room with a world outside and no "hands on" of any trains, only a headset, pencil, rubber and the train graph showing all the day/nights train working movements. No wonder some would get bit cranky after awhile. 

First a little groundwork here. My father was an SM and I as a youngster use to at times go into the station office, normally was out of bounds to us kids but Dad was stickler if we did come into the office then we had to do something meaningful like stamp piles of blank station and freight shed waybills with the local station stamp. Yes a very boring,,, monotonous,,, job that was, so hence us kids would give the office a wide birth as in those days there was too much fun to be had out and about with your school mates of course after all your daily chores were done. (cows to paddock, pickup the daily cow poop, chop wood, separate milk for cream etc) Actually it was a good way to keep the railway employee's kids away from the station office. Times where I did stamp waybills was mostly on cold miserable days more so at Auburn between 1950-55, when not much cop being outside in the cold. I use to watch Dad take the Train Orders over a phone on the wall. For me all stations I’ve seen the Train Control phone one had to stand up to use it as there was no sitting down. When at Mannahill 1948-50 Dad would draw a staff and attach the train order to it. At Auburn though he'd take the Train Order as it was actual Train Order Territory and then he would have to repeat and spell all station names and numbers back to Control, but Mannahill was electric staff only, so one only needed to repeat what was written down, no spelling out anything. 

Anyway, now back to my first Monday morning with some on the ground serious train working at long last. On the Redhens it was only Ticket Collecting with a guard on board who did all the actual train working and did all the speaking to train control. Was good thing I started on day shift where there was a Parcels clerk besides the Station Master. At Jamestown the SM had his own personal office other side of station through a corridor from the main ticket/parcels office. 275 goods was due around 10:30am and Terry Donnellan (nickname Stilts) the parcels clerk said "I'll get you to ask train control if okay to draw a staff for Caltowie and you will probably need to take a Train Order to cross 274 goods their. Well I near crapped myself as I'd never listened to, or spoken to, a Train Controller before. 

Now back to about me saying that all Train Control phones are usually high up on the wall and I've always noticed to talk on the Control phone from a rear viewer's perspective one look like your standing to attention while taking to Train Control. This of course as a youngster watching my Dad or the station clerk at the time, they always seemed to standing to attention and everything spoken, was short, sharp and to the point, no idle chatter, much like my army CO when I was in National Service in 1959 had roared out an order and you all came to instant attention smartly, no back answering or funny quips. It all seemed just so deadly serious. In a way one could say you pick up phone and hello, its “God” on the line, mind you a couple of those guys thought they were God too. 

Now you might just see now my reluctance to have to talk to train control on that phone. Terry really had to push me and as he said that remember in 3 weeks you will be on your very own entirely on afternoon and midnight shifts, you will be the boss (all for 3 pence or 3 cents) a shift, big bucks hey). Well he was dead right I gota break the ice NOW. Terry (Stilts) tells me what to say which was. First, make sure your Train Order Book has the 2 carbon sheets inserted between pages correctly, as you’ll have no time to mess with them when you have to take a train order for a cross etc. Secondly, pickup the Train Control phone, remember Train Control cannot hear you, till you pull down that key, (That was later very handy for ear wigging in quiet times as to what was going on down and up the track, of course that suppose to be a no, no, BUT!!! Was great when your on your own and not wished to get too bored in between trains.) So it was key-down to talk, key-up to listen. Now first listen to hear that control is not already taking to someone. If all quiet, or he's finished speaking to whoever, you call out your station name "JAMESTOWN" So this I did with bit nervous voice like you were about to be assassinated. I still did not know what to expect. 

Suddenly, I hear in a gruff very much to the point voice was spat out like a shot ringing out, "JAMESTOWN". I'm really hesitant now and Terry whispers right behind me to say "will 275 be okay for Caltowie" which I said to control. Now a short time had elapsed and Control said again, now in a much more very annoyed voice, "YES, JAMESTOWN". Now the heart rate is over 5,000rpm and climbing rapidly as I managed to say again "will 275 be okay for Caltowie". I wait and nothing, next thing I hear in much more annoyed voice "YESsssssss JAMESTOWN" Terry then spots that I hadn't pushed the TC key-down to speak. Oh hell, now really getting bit more rattled, no, really bloody rattled. I pull the key-down and blurt out "Will 275 be okay for Caltowie" I hear back very much annoyed voice saying, "yes 275 be right, but you will need to take a Train Order for a cross with 274 at Caltowie". Well I'm in the deep end now, as to a train order I had never done one before, though passed Train Orders by correspondence which was far from this reality. Anyway, control says are you ready. I pull the key down and said "Yes". The next thing I hear is train control speaking like a machine gun, all I heard was "Train Order 58 and the rest became just a total blur and then total panic set in by now as it all came over at me like verbal diarrhea. All I heard was the Max Istead controller at the end of the train order. Once control finished the order, you had to repeat it all back to him.

So you can imagine what was about to happen when I said, "sorry I only got the "Train Order 58" bit and nothing else as this is my very first Train Order. I'm the new porter that started here today". Well this guy just went to blast-off ballistic and off the meter at me, (maybe had a knock back at home that night) I just put the phone down quite shaken and said to Terry that so an so just blew the shit out me. Even remembering back now that was a very nasty experience for a new starter or any employee where hands-on train working is concerned and any employee stirred up around trains is definitely not a good thing I tell you from a lot of rail hands on experience since that first day, so much so I still remember this one so clearly to this very day still 48 years later. Set like concrete. Well good ol young Terry came to my aid and picked up the phone and tried to pacify Maxy baby and it then got very heated as Terry was sticking up for me and Maxy wasn’t having it. 

With that Jack Kelly the SM had heard all the ruckus from his office and came into the parcels office and I quickly explained what happened to me. So Jack Kelly said to Terry, "GIVE ME THAT PHONE and Jack was from Irish descendants and when Jack's face turns red, everyone better duck for cover real quick. Well Jack speaks to Max and it was on for young and old and Jack flew into him and after much ado and things finally got calmed down, Jack gives me the Train Control phone and said quietly to me, now maybe he be bit more patient and respectful to new fellow. Man was I proud of my new boss, first time I really had someone of position stick up for me. So now I say "Jamestown" and I heard back quietly "yes Jamestown, now let's try for that train order again. Well it was incredible now a human being at last on other end and went something like this. 

Train Order 58. Have you got that? Yes I replied. 
Date, 28-04-1963. Got that? Yes. 
Guard and Engineman 275 at Jamestown. Got that? Yes. 
Engine 402. Got that? Yes. 
Take Passing Siding. Got that? Yes. 
At Caltowie. Now I say, "yes got that". 
Cross goods 274. I say again, "yes got that". 
Engine 401. Yes, I got that. 
Take Crib on arrival. I got that. 
Received at Jamestown. Got that. 
10:05am. Got that. 
Max Istead, Controller. Yes, got that I said. 
Max now says when your ready, repeat it all back to me please. 

The rest was easy now which went like this. 
Train Order: 58 on 28/4/1963.
To Guard and Engineman of Train No: 275 at Jamestown.
Engine: 402.
Take Passing Siding at Caltowie
Cross goods 274 engine 401.
Take crib on arrival.
Received at Jamestown: 10:05am
Repeated from Jamestown: 10:06am
Repeated by Station Master: J Masson.
Max Istead Controller. 

Yes it was a piece of cake from that point onwards. But was good in one respect being chucked in the deep end like that. On my first afternoon shift under another porter's supervision after 11pm the Assistant Train Controller for the Port Pirie board goes off duty and the Cockburn Train Controller board takes over both boards during the whole night shift. I remember the Porter who was supervising me said to me would you like to check with train control to see if 554 needs an train order for a cross of 107 at Yongala. By then I had done a couple of train orders from that previous week's day shift. I picked the phone up expecting to hear the Assistant Controller still on, but a new voice of Joe Murphy. The Cockburn board had taken over the Pirie board and Joe said, "yes you will need an order, would you like to take it now, instead of later on". He then said, "are you the new chap at Jamestown, so I'll give you the order slowly". I said yes thanks and he was an absolutely thorough gentleman and from that point I'd go out of my way to make his trains go through to help out with his tight crosses, though I did that for most controllers anyway.

John Harrison would try to rattle you, he seemed to have a strange quirk to enjoy doing that. I found he was one to be bit wary of, till Des Hobbs another gentleman on Pirie board invited me to come up to Peterborough and see how Train Control ran on an afternoon shift as I'd never seen what went on in Train Control. I took up the offer and Des was on the Pirie board and John H was on the Cockburn board. I often use to listen in on the night shift and John H would often stir the hell out of the Cockburn and Gladstone porters at times for some reason which I not liked that at all. As I know all too well what it is like to be out there running around flat chat at night with a kero lamp from one end of the yard to the other with signals, parcels, tickets often with 2 trains crossing and passing with railcars and road bus departure and you do all that on your own. No help and last thing was needed was Train Control setting you up for a giggle. Anyway, this night Des was explaining how TC works on the graphs, when I hear John H saying to Des hey listen to so and so at Cockburn with the speaker on. John H stirs into Cockburn and the fellow at Cockburn is near cracking a total mental. John H laughs and I did not see the funny side of that. I look at Des and Des raises his eyebrows at me I think understanding how I felt about John H doing that which I've had done to me in tight situations. I learnt a lot that night and I never let John H ever try to razz me ever again, as I would come back at him with all he dished out. So this was another learning curve that one must learn all the idiosyncrasies of all those working around real quick for you to get job done best as possible. 

Train Control never bothered me ever again, I got along with most controllers very well but there was a couple of Train controllers that bought many train delay hassles on themselves by being just too dogmatic and at times and the station staff out on the stations often wore the brunt of it needlessly. Was not right, but those were the days though mostly good ol days with some odd bad moments. So yes finally Control was not a God, but just flesh and blood that bled like the rest of us.



Well is hard to just start rail memories just by saying so, usually those good ol memories often come by relating to something somewhere, well in my case they do anyway. Of late I'd been doing some beta testing on some Narrow Gauge rollingstock for the "Northern Narrow Gauge route" that is at present in the pipeline for MSTS users later on. This memory below happened on the old Peterborough Narrow Gauge back in the mid 1960's that came to mind while I was testing the Jamestown - Belalie part of it, as that was very familiar territory to me. 

Okay, for those of you that may not be old enough to remember those earlier South Australian Railway days, or, not in the know about guards as I only had someone say to me recently when I mentioned guards on trains. The answer was, "what were guards on trains for". Wow,,,, Suddenly I'm older than I thought. Anyway, in SAR days all trains had guards in a Brake Van or Goods Brake (GB) on the rear of all trains. "Guards" you say, yes, but they not there to protect payrolls or guard prisoners. They were responsible for the train's safe working and bookwork (no computers those days, just a pencil, paper and rubber) and at unattended stations they would do all shunting, the unloading and loading parcels, mailbags, collect tickets and all sorts of weird take-outs, (as once the S.A.R. was a common carrier and they HAD TO take anything that was offered, there was no picking or choosing freight) and often some very heavy stuff too. Most unattended stations had no lighting at night, it be as black as a dog's behind (being polite here). Was not good or fun when it's raining cats and dogs and/or blowing a near gale either and at night with just a kerosene lit hand signal lamp to see and work by. I'd say any old guards who get to read this would bring back plenty of memories good and bad.

This was rather humorous experience and how it finally played out. 
First a bit of boring ground work to get the full picture. 

I was stationed at Jamestown third station from Peterborough towards Port Pirie in the 1960's, our Peterborough Narrow Gauge trains used electric staff working that governed each section. Working the night shift at Jamestown was often very busy time. I'd just dispatched 554 the roadside shunt train for Belalie North onto Yongala for a cross with 107 ore train bound for Port Pirie. After 554 departed, I booked the train out to Train Control and asked him roughly about what time 107 be due at Jamestown. This was handy to know as one can then get some nice kip time. Of course if you were going to get some shut eye, there were certain things you had to setup in yard to cover some bases in case you slept a bit heavy. (laughing) Once you knew what was what, I'd then setup the yard and the switches set and pinned (cheese knobs) for the down main as Jamestown had 2 main lines an up and down mains interlocked with Lower Quadrant signals. I'd then pull the distant and home stick off and have everything set up ready to received the train straight into the yard as it had to stop at end of the yard to do the GCVs. ( Grade Control Valves ) The electric staff section was Yongala - Jamestown, it use to be Jamestown - Belalie North - Yongala till they removed the electric staff instrument out of Belalie North which made that section now an hour's travelling both ways and Guards never had to report at Belalie North, on the up (that's to Peterborough) as they would run through Belalie North, but they HAD TO stop on the down (that's to Port Pirie) and set the GCVs before proceeding on down steep incline 1 in 60 into Jamestown, so quite often Train Control would not buzz Jamestown to give the okay for an electric staff to be withdrawn for next section till some 10 to 15 minutes before a train's arrival. This was also handy for getting some extra kip time.

One good thing with Jamestown no down train can be given a run through (meaning: green light or flag so it not have to stop). Jamestown - Belalie was a 1 in 60 steep grade which coming from Belalie North down to Jamestown all loaded ore wagons had to have the GCVs set to the HP position, this holds brakes part way on so gives driver time the recharge the train for next brake application. When a down ore train pulled into station one could often see molten cast-iron dripping off the brake blocks they would get so hot with brakes partly on all the way from Belalie. This meant when they arrived in the Jamestown yard all GCVs had to be reset to the IP (slow full release) position. XP was exhaust (normal brake position). 

Anyway, I settled down for what looked like a near quiet 1½ hours kip, or till Train Control rang to say 107 is onto me and it is okay to withdraw a staff for the Jamestown - Caltowie section, next station on towards Port Pirie, or often it was also to take a train order to take either Main line or Passing siding to cross with Goods 108 at Caltowie an unattended station after hours. Then Train Control would give you all the info about the cross, also about when the engine crew to take their 20 minute crib either on arrival, or after the crew change, as both Port Pirie and Peterborough crews would always changed over and worked back to their own depots. This night it was mid winter, very cold as usual, could even been a slight frost. I had a firewood Narrow Gauge sleeper literally cut in half and both halves in an open fireplace poked up the chimney, this usually was done as soon as I booked on and took over at midnight and the resulting fire and hot coals would last well into mid morning. The boss (SM) always had a nice warm office when he booked on at 8am. Also Passengers that caught the road bus at 5:30am to Riverton and the 6am Brill Railcar for Gladstone and Pt Pirie welcomed the nice cozy station office, instead of freezing outside on the platform. Jamestown was just a few miles down the track from the coldest place in South Australia.... YONGALA.

Here I was with office door locked with a fantastic open fire going, had my lola-bout setup and nicely lounging back like a bug in a rug for an expected nice maybe 1½ hour kip. Was having a nice doze when suddenly there is an very anxious loud knocking on the office door and I heard a car driving away. Gingerly I open the office door and there was a train guard looking bit dusty and in bit of distress. I said, "what the hell happened to you". He said, "I'm the guard off 107 and instantly I said to him, "Oh no, not a derailment". He said, "no" and then tells me when he got to Belalie North he walked the train doing the GCVs till he met the Fireman coming up from engine setting the GCVs to his half of train. The Guard and Fireman would both do the GCV till they met and the Guard said to Fireman, your okay to nick off when you get back on the engine.

The guard got back to the GB and thought he got bit of time for a quick leak. Not quite finishing his leak and no warning or whistle, suddenly the train took off with guard near wetting himself and trying to run after his brake van to grab it and jump on the step, but then slips and goes down and rolls in the dirt. Picks himself up to see his train's marker lights heading off down the track in the distance. Actually Belalie North Yard runs slightly downhill towards Jamestown and loaded trains as soon as you release the brakes can get going pretty quickly. Lucky for him the local storekeeper was bringing over some mail bags to lock in shed for the Pirie morning Railcar. Those days ALL mails went by train. The Belalie storekeeper said to guard, quick jump in the car and I'll run you down to the Jamestown station just 7 miles away and that was the car I heard driving off. The young guard was rather upset that he'd get into serious trouble, but I assured him, hey! who is going to find out, not from me and I'm sure not from your train crew either. The crew will definitely not say anything, as there was not an actual second right of way signal (green light) given to show that the guard was in his brake van, so they be in as much poo as you. 

With that I said to the guard, "come on in by the fire and get tidied up and we'll wait for your train to arrive". Train Control rang and was all I could do to not show any humour as Control said what time 107 will arrive here and that 107 is okay for a staff for Caltowie, also I think I took a train order for a cross at Caltowie with 108. I took the staff out of the Caltowie instrument and said to the Guard, "here's your train order and hey! you got it all before you arrived" and we both had to laugh. Then I said to him, "here, you take the staff and train order and hand it up to your Fireman as the train goes past and let's see the look on his face when he sees his train guard giving him the staff" when he should be at the rear of his train.

Well, in comes 107 and guard stands on platform which is at track level, he holds up the staff to his fireman. The fireman throws his Yongala staff onto the platform (not suppose to but was often a done thing) and THEN.... the fireman suddenly recognises it is his guard with the staff hoop and he was then near instantly half hanging out of the cab yelling out, "How did you get down here". It was a perfect picture, pity no movie camera. I was totally cracking up, as it was a really classic situation. Next thing you see the fireman and driver was off the engine like a rocket, both bolting back to the station to find out what gives. So then all was revealed and eventually all could see the rare funny side of it. Fortunately no one hurt just some embarrassed faces at first. 

I bet after that episode the crew looked out for the second right of way everytime. By the way we were allowed 10 minutes for resetting GCVs (Grade Control Valves) so was plenty of time to be un-embarrassed (and no running time lost) to end up as a good laugh thankfully for all concerned. Of course the guard I use to rag him a bit each time he went through Jamestown, "I see your still in the GB", he'd just give me the thumbs up and big grin, but that can easily happen to any guard in those good ol days. Those days it was really a team railway, everyone where possible covered each other. Do miss them still, though now over 40 years ago. 



When the 830's took over from steam in 1964-5, Belalie North was still a staff station, so up till then there was no need to double head back to Peterborough from Belalie as engines would run light engine as it was only 2 sections to travel home. But when Garratts came back into action was a different scenario, no Belalie staff section anymore, hence the opportunity to see twin Garratts out of Jamestown back to Peterborough and most railfan folk sadly missed witnessing this. For some reason railfans rarely did came to Jamestown, mostly Gladstone, Huddleston, or Crystal Brook, but they failed to see THAT Jamestown was where the real steam action often was, as Jamestown was a reducing station, reason for an actual up and down interlocked main lines, also hence this Jamestown page to show some of what they all missed. Most of the serious steam action at Jamestown granted, was sadly during the night.

A little funny short story.  Back in the late 1960's on an afternoon shift, a couple of sound-fans wanted to catch some Garratt sound action in the yard, obviously they knew there was a Garratt on 467 down Pirie train out of Peterborough. As luck would have it for them, normally 467 was a through freight, meaning it stopped 10 minutes only to change the position of the grade valves. But train control decided at last minute to do a swap and do the roadside shunt with 467 and 513 the normal roadside train would then be the through train. So I said to these fellows, "your in luck as you will get the best action your have ever heard". I told them where to set up their sound recorder microphones just past the freight shed Caltowie end. I ran up to facing switches threw the sticks back at stop, as the sticks were setup for 467 to enter on the down main and then setup the switches right through for the 4th (silo) road as we were going to pick up some loaded wheat bogie wagons for Port Pirie. Reason for that movement down 4th road is a Garratt could only push back 850 tons back up into the Jamestown yard from the down main Caltowie end. By using 4th road, not a lot of loading actually went down the hill out of  the yard. All ore wagons were auto couplings and all hook loading always had to go behind the autos via an auto-hook adapter. That would have meant  splitting the train onto the sheep siding coming off the down main before doing the shunt, thus taking a lot of extra time.  Point of interest here: an 830 could only push back 800 tons back, not as good as a Garratt of 850 tons rather easy.

Anyway, the Garratt stops at the home stick (signal). By the way it can take awhile to admit a train account the grade valves in the HP position had to release enough to move the train. I admitted 467 to fourth road and the sound lads are quite wide eyed as I adjusted the grade valves to the EX position (pointing down) to shunt with. I said to the guard what was about to happen, he smiled. I uncouples and waved engine to pull ahead with a string of ore trucks (loaded auto couplers and lot of weight) We then pickup about 300 ton bogie wheat, (hook couplings also an auto adapter change required) now we have a lot of tonnage. We pull ahead to clear down past the switches, then set road for back onto rest of the train a good way up the yard.

 The guard and I look to see the lads are enjoying their sound recording position. Yes, looks fine, so back over the other side and now for the action. I give "big kickoff to the driver" Well,,,, all hell was let loose as the Garratt really got stuck into it with a lot of tonnage now, there was dust and steam flying and Garratt roaring. Then gave a stop and then we eased up and coupled up nicely, did the air and reset grade valves into IP position (horizontal) as I walked up to the driver to give him the electric staff and a train order for a cross a train at Caltowie and the crew said, "what was all that about". I explained and they near fell out the engine laughing. They said they saw the lads when coming in with their sound gear near the track and thought it might have something to do with it, reason we gave it a good go. 

As soon as 467 had gone out the yard and I booked it out with Train Control who was very happy with the quick shunt. The sound lads were on the platform bright eyed and I asked "Well how was that for real steam action" They were beyond themselves and I would doubt if they would ever forget that sound recording session being so up close to the real Garratt action. Only trouble was I have never heard that recording they took. So if one of you out there now reading this and can remember this action on that late afternoon in late 1960’s at Jamestown with the mighty Garratt, I'd dearly love to hear that recording. Yes,,, good ol days when one got paid to enjoy what one so dearly loved doing. Working 'hands on' with steam trains. Sadly now gone forever. Though did have some good action times with the 830 diesels.


        Last twin Garratts 400 and 401 on 554 Up to Belalie North 9th January 1970.

A rather funny Garratt story about that final narrow gauge night at Jamestown.

When the twin Garratts as 554 arrived at Jamestown it had to pick up a big string of ore empties off our 3rd road. My wife, her younger sister and myself were waiting for the twin Garratts at the water column. I saw that the lead engine had a few fellows on board, so I asked the engineman of second engine which I preferred anyway for the trip up to Belalie. He said, 'sure, no problem' as he knew me. Just as the engines were near ready to pickup the string of ore empties after taking water, I climb up into cab and the engineman said, 'what about the girls' (my wife and her younger sister) The girls were bit hesitant, but reluctantly said okay and there we were, 5 of us. Anyway was a jovial time and everyone was laughing the girls giggling as was certainly an unusual experience for them. 

Time now to pickup the ore empties. I was looking out the driver's door as we proceeded out and over onto the 3rd road. The girls were standing in middle of engine. As we coming back onto the 3rd road empties I could see the Garratts had gathered a little extra speed as it was very downhill onto 3rd road. Next thing our engineman yells, 'hang on everyone' as I can see we were going a bit on the quick side so close to the empties. Next thing "bump" we hit the empties not overly that fast, more of a slight misjudgment. As soon as the engines coupled fairly hard, my wife gabbed me but her sister went backwards as nothing for her to hold onto and behind her was a ½ bucket of water and she sat in it fare and square perfectly. Never hurt her, but the embarrassment as everyone grabbed her to lift her out of the water bucket. Fortunately she did not got very wet. It was then a laugh all round. While they were pumping up the air the girls got off as they took our car to Belalie North to pick me up and we pulled the string out and coupled onto the train, an air test and away we went roaring out the yard up the Belalie bank into history. 

My wife and her sister we still joke and laugh about that night 40 years later. I often wonder if the crew of that engine have any fond memories of that final shunt exercise. Great memories.


        TIT BIT.

The Garratts on wet cold nights were nice to be in (like homely from a non driver's viewpoint) not so on hot days, as the Garratts had a closed-in cab. When shunting I use to feel sorry for the crews working the roadside "T's". Roadside trains were always T's even when the 830’s were in full swing. All the crews had for protection from the elements on “T’s” was a piece of canvas between cab roof and tender to keep some of the weather out, not all that well either in my view. 

But one thing I can say for NG steam crews from a ground shunter's viewpoint. A steam train would pull up in the yard, take water,  and cross other trains or whatever night or day. I or ground staff could go out virtually anytime and give a hand signal, or wave the kero lantern to start a shunt and 99% of the time, night or day, wet or dry, the crew were right on the ball. When you worked with steam you took all that for granted.

But as soon as Narrow Gauge became dieselised, it was almost like someone flicked a switch. Crews now in their nice cumfy closed-in cabs with electric heaters on, better seating and cup of coffee on the console. This use to pee off the ground staff as now near 99% of the time the ground staff would often have to walk, or run all the way up the train often equal to, or near 100 (4 wheel wagons) to the engine, thump on side of cab to wake them up. It was incredible how some crews could even fall asleep, between moving the diesel's reversing lever from forward to reverse, or vice versa. 

The steam crews looking back now I do take my hat off to them all. Yes, in my view steam was so alive and was like family / caring, it was a different attitude world. On other hand when diesels came, they became like near dead and self centered. Diesels did destroy the old steam engineman’s ways, much like that old 70's song "video killed the radio star".  An attitude price I guess was paid for our on-going technology.

When hand radios were instituted later in the 1980's to all shunt staff, this solved that problem. Just press the radio switch and yell "wakey, wakey, hands off etc, etc, engine 503, go ahead". So the tide then turned and all that un-necessary running leg work and cursing saved. That was a plus, also the boss at the station could actually hear everything that was being said during shunt movements. 



Interesting Narrow Gauge steam in China.  
Click this link  HERE  Love it.....

Actually up until the old Narrow Gauge yard at Jamestown was re-sleepered in 1965, the station shunt tracks (not our two up and down main lines) was very much like that in the movie. Most of the shunt tracks was lucky to have much of the sleeper left under the rails, the hard dirt would be all that held the track in place and was bit iffy when it was very wet. 

When roadside trains were admitted to the 4th road to do the shunts that movie reminded me often of seeing the T class (always usually on roadside trains) would rock'n roll and sway going down the yard virtually like that. 
Best was watching the Garratt on 467 a normal through ore train at odd times had to do the roadside pickups in lieu of 513 doing it later that night and when Garratt was admitted to 4th road, not so much the Garratt itself as they quite long engine, (movement not as noticeable) but the ON's of ore would do their dance around all over the place, bobbing up and down and going side to side. Was great riding on wagons steps when shunting at good turn of speed. (actually it was quite exciting).

All this went fine till in 1965 admitting 467 about 5:30pm a Garratt loaded ore train to the 4th road, suddenly could see the ON's jumping up and down much more than usual, that not looked too good so stopped the train movement. On checking came across a bogie with its bogie wheels only on one side of wagon in the dirt (yes track had spread). I checked ore wagons up to the engine and all the bogies had scrape marks on side of the bogie wheels indicating that all the ore bogies on one side of train had been in the dirt and had re-railed themselves. The engine was okay reason driver not felt anything was wrong. The good thing was each bogie had re-rail itself before the second ON bogie ore wagon dropped off the track. 

Just uncoupled other side of the silo loop switches and waved driver ahead slowly and watched the rest of wagons slowly drop off track into the dirt and then nicely re-railed themselves. Was then just a matter of once past other end loop switches to then push back out around the silo/shed loop and re-coupled back onto train where I had cut off previously so it was all fixed, no damage except to where track had spread. Track bit messed up but re-rail job done quickly with not much delay to the train. Local Per Way gang repaired track next day.

After that the SAR re-sleepered all the 3rd and 4th roads and also renewed the two Up and Down yard main lines. So yes that movie was great reminder of those good ol days when going to work was very enjoyable, as you never knew just what might happen on or during your shift. Was never boring, never. 


Return to top of page