About Geoff


On board the Great South Pacific Express in 1997 when the train was on display at Spencer Street Station as a part of a railway industry exibition.

Photo by Philip Barry

Born in the late 1940's, my first contact with railways was when I was an infant. Most evenings my father would hold me up to the back fence of our home in Moonee Ponds (a suburb of Melbourne, Australia) so that I could watch the Spirit of Progress express go by on it's way to Albury hauled by one of the Victorian Railway's S class pacifics.

Later, in 1954, my family moved to Brighton to live in the residence above my father's business. This happened to be next to North Brighton station and I was able to watch trains from my bedroom window. These included the daily pick up goods trains that were still steam hauled and shunted the North Brighton goods siding. I was also made welcome in the station office and the signal box.

Not long after I began attending Brighton State School. The school sports field was (and still is) located next to the Sandringham line. The pick up goods often passed during the school lunch break so that there was usually a large group at the fence to watch it go past with a toot and wave from the crew.

By the early 1960's, I was attending Brighton High School. At this time Sundays were often spent cleaning engines at the North Williamstown Railway Museum. Steam had become a rarity on the Sandringham line by then. E class electrics had taken over the goods workings. The last steam working I saw on this line, apart from preserved locomotives, was R 712 running tender first through North Brighton towards Sandringham towing a heavy steam crane in 1963.

In January 1967 I joined the Victorian Railways as an apprentice fitter and turner. For the first year I was based at the trade training centre at Newport Workshops The following year I was transferred to the Way and Works workshop at Spotswood until the completion of my apprenticeship in 1972.

I was then conscripted into the Australian Army for National Service Training. Most of my service was with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment as an Armament Fitter.

On completion of my army service, I returned to Spotswood Workshops as a fitter and turner. Not long after I was transferred to the drawing office as a draughtsman and a few years later became an assistant engineer.

In 1979 the railways decided to close Spotswood Workshops. Most of the work was either contracted out or transferred to Newport Workshops. However, I was transferred to the Way and Works Plant Division at North Melbourne together with the task of design, manufacture and maintenance of track inspection vehicles. At about this time the assistant engineer grades were phased out and so I became a technical officer and later a Senior Technical Officer.

During this time the Victorian Railways became  Vic Rail and then V/Line as a part of the Public Transport Corporation. The Way & Works Plant Division became the V/Line Infrastructure Plant Department.

In 1999, the then Victorian Government divided up the Public Transport Corporation into separate business units and sold them off. The Plant Department was sold to John Holland Constructions (a subsidiary of Leighton Holdings). As a result, I applied for and was granted voluntary redundancy.

Since then, apart from some short stints as a consultant to some of the new players in the railway industry,  I've enjoyed retirement.   I have found that retirement can keep one very busy, however I try to find at least  one day a week to work at Newport for SteamRail as a volunteer fitter and a few days each month for photography.