The Latter Day Personnel of the Sans-Souci Tramway

by Gifford Eardley

Through the courtesy of Mr. George Barnidge, of Sans Souci, one of the steam-tram drivers associated with the now long defunct Kogarah to Sans Souci Steam Tramway, which closed on Sunday, July 4th, 1937, we are able to publish a list of the personnel engaged with the running operations of this fascinating line at the last period of its existence. Many of the men concerned have passed on, but it is fitting that their names and occupations should be placed on record, as many of these people are, or were, old residents of the St. George District.

Strangely enough amongst the final allotment of steam motors in use on the Kogarah run was No. 1A which, apart from workshop spells, was engaged in puffing along the various steam tramways of the Sydney Metropolitan area since it first took up these duties on September 15th, 1879. It was really an old smoky warrior, and is now preserved in the safe care of the Arts and Science Museum, here awaiting the opportunity to be placed on permanent display when that organisations Transport Museum becomes an established fact. Mr Barnidge sends a little ditty which circulated at the Sandringham Running Shed about the time of its closure, relating to the then projected departure of motor No. 1A, a measure taken before the last days of the line, in order to preserve the veteran engine from the stupid attention of destructive vandals. The ditty reads as follows:-

My work out here is done,
And when I leave this Kogarah scene
Thats the last youll see of steam.
No more I’ll grunt and puff,
I’ll leave to you the trolley-bus,
Good-by No, 1A,

Is there any other man-made machine which can inherit such sentimental attachments as those appertaining to a steam locomotive?

At one period throughout the day, a service each quarter of an hour was given to the travelling public, and was greatly appreciated. This meant that four trams were in constant use at one and the same time, and to see the tram motors, five being required to run this timetable in rotative fashion, was one of the everyday sights at Kogarah, at least to those who looked on with interest and had an appreciation of the hustle and bustle of traffic movements. At the end of each trip at Kogarah, the motor would be immediately uncoupled, and away she would steam up the line, past the post-office and through the railway gates to the comforts of the coal stage. Here another motor, which was waiting, would come forward from a back siding onto the main tram line, and then reverse to join the tram-cars waiting patiently at the foot of the railway station steps. A loud whistle would sound, and away the tram would go, outward bound for the delights of Sans Souci and Sandringham, and all stops in between. After each round trip had been made at Kogarah, the black-shirted driver would alight from his little engine, gripping a long-spouted oil-can, and proceed to carefully oil the various axles and sliding portions of the engines mechanical anatomy, a procedure so necessary for their smooth and high-speed running. Meanwhile, coal would be quickly shovelled into the small bunker at the rear of the motor, and a leather hose, connected to the water main, passed through the side window of the motor to replenish the contents of the saddle-tank above the little boiler. Then everything was ready, with a minimum of fuss, for the next outward journey.

Drivers of the motors concerned with the tramway in its latter days, are listed as follows:- L.Backford, L. Black, J. Burford, A. Harvey, W. Kavanagh, A. Keen, C. Megaw, J. Minehan, E. Stanton, W. Stokes, G.Tatley, and W,Tuckwell. There was another group, classified as Acting Drivers, which comprised the following list of worthy men: G. Barnidge, W. Breary, J. Bricknell, W. Chalmers, E. Howard, J. Kelly, R. Nesbit, N. Westfallen, and A, Whittaker.

Collection of fares was carried out by a hardy group of men, classified as conductors, who walked the narrow foot-boards ranged along the outside of the tram-cars, hanging on for dear life at times, and always in danger of being swept off the tram by some foolish motorist in a crazy hurry. Through rain, wind and fog, they plied their somewhat hazardous occupation. These men had to conform to all manner of directive regulations as to fares, general deportment, the changing of postal boxes, which in those gladsome two-mail delivery days, were suspended from the rear apron-plate of the rear carriage, and also the wiping clean of seats and the ‘avoidance of touching passengers”. These exemplary men comprised Messrs. S. Berry, J. Budge, A. Gary, R. Harrison, J. Huegill, G. Junk, C. Keep, W. Marshall, W. Smith, E. Wallace, N. Webb, W. Winney, and L. Wollet.

The workshop staff were most important, responsible for the maintenance and good order of both the motors and the tram-cars, a work which called for both knowledge and trained skill. Three mechanical fitters, Messrs, A.Antonio, F. Floras, and H. Hunt, were employed on a shift basis. Boilermakers allotted to the depot were Messrs. A. Ingram, E. Slade, and G. Sutherland, with G. Paul responsible for washing out the boilers preparatory to examination or the clearing away of any internal sludge deposit. Three cleaners, Messrs. D. Jones, J. Nevin, and R. Truscott were provided on the tramway to keep the carriages spick and span. The most important job, one calling for much laborious work at times coupled with great skill, was that of the three men responsible for the fettling of the tramway tracks, Messrs. R. Bull, W. Connor and J. Johns.

The Sans Souci Steam Tramway functioned smoothly and well under the administration of that redoubtable man, the late W. Pendleton, the officer-in-charge. This estimable gentleman hailed from the Newcastle Tramway System, and was most efficient in carrying out his multifarious duties in a way which did not give offence to either the travelling public, or the men placed under his directive control. As one who always took a personal interest in the operation of the Kogarah to Sans Souci Steam Tramway, and was mindful of its efficiency under difficult traffic conditions it has been most pleasant to record the names of the personnel associated with the line at the time of its closure of this extremely interesting but now long defunct form of public transport.

This article was first published in the March 1970 edition of our magazine.

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