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The Stationmasters

Flinders Street Station Head Stationmaster's hat

The Head Stationmaster at Flinders Street had a uniform that had gold braiding. The hat also had gold braiding. This was the most senior position at the station. The crown on the hat and the lapels of the uniform are either that of the King or the Queen. The crown helps to date the uniforms. The stationmaster’s office was originally on Platform 1.


Travellers’ Aid

Travellers Aid-Booth in 1929 outside the Ladies Waiting Room on Platform 1

Travellers’ Aid has a history dating back to WWI where the movement essentially focussed on the plight of single woman in the early 1900s. The YWCA effectively ran a travellers’ aid service until 1916 when it became an independent society. The VR provided a booth on Platform 1 in 1929 next to the Ladies Waiting Room in strong support of the society’s mission.

Country Passenger Trains

Floor plan of the Country Booking Office, 1930

The most prestigious passenger train to originate from Flinders St would have to be the Gippslander. This train used to run between Melbourne and Bairnsdale, Monday to Saturday and during the 1960s and 70s was hauled by an L class electric loco between Flinders St and Traralgon and a T class diesel for the rest of the Journey. This train used to have a buffet car which used to sell really lovely coffee, even though it was years before coffee machines were in common use. Their secret was that the coffee was made from nearly 100% milk. Each morning while the train was at No1 platform being prepared for departure, a man from the refreshment branch used to bring a large bucket of scalding milk from the basement refreshment kitchen and pour it into the coffee urn in the buffet car. The loco crews were always given a billy full of coffee prior to departure. The first time I ever fired on this train was one Saturday morning in 1965. When I signed on for my rostered job, which was firing on one of the many Melbourne Yard pilots, I was informed by the manpower clerk (sign on clerk) that my job had been changed and I was now firing for Bill Carroll on the Gippy. The first thing Bill said to me was, “Well son, this will be the first time you will have ever got through Dandenong without shunting”. I think this must have been some kind of curse because as we passed through Springvale, the signalman noticed smoke coming from an axle box on one of the carriages so it turned out that we had to shunt at Dandenong after all.

Other passenger trains that originated from Flinders St during this time were to Warragul, Traralgon and Sale, all of which were invariably hauled by L class locos. When I was a fireman on some of these trains in the early 1970s and at that time the travelling foreman (loco inspector) for the Eastern line was an old gentleman called Eric Finlay. He didn’t like diesels at all and if, on the odd occasion, the L class electric was replaced with a B or T class diesel, he would complain all the way to Warragul, referring to the diesel loco as a dirty , panting b------d.

There were two railmotors to Leongatha and as far as I can remember, there was also two Railmotors to Wonthaggi each day which ran out of Flinders St. During holiday time, particularly Christmas and Easter, these were replaced by loco hauled trains. The Yarram passenger train lost its first class carriage in the late 60s and in its last few years, during the mid 70s, it became a mixed train. We would pick up one or two goods trucks in Melbourne yard on our way to Flinders St and attach them to the passenger carriages in Princes Bridge yard and then dock the whole train in No1 centre platform, ready to depart for Yarram. This was probably the last ever mixed train to run regularly anywhere in Victoria.

There was one train to Geelong that originated from Flinders St. This was the 11.25pm which was known to the crews as the Picture Train. It ran Monday to Friday from platform 1 centre (I can’t remember if it also ran on Saturdays) and stopped at Spencer ST, Footscray, Newport and all stations to Geelong.

The only other regular country passenger trains out of Flinders St that I can remember were the early morning Navy train, which ran ahead of the first suburban train to Frankston each Monday direct to HMAS Cerberus. This train departed from platform 10 East and stopped at Richmond, Caulfield, Moorabbin, Cheltenham, Mordialloc, Frankston and all stations to Cerberus except Leawarra and Stop 15.

The other was the Sunday morning service to Stony Pt and only ran during the Summer WTT period. This train also ran out of 10 East and stopped Caulfield, Moorabbin, Cheltenham, Mordialloc, Frankston and all stations to Stony Pt.

~ John Darke, September 2012