Work in progress
This visit to Adelaide, my third, held a special interest. Since 2014 I’ve been a volunteer at our Newport Railway Museum in Melbourne which had given me a special interest in visiting the National Railway Museum in Port Adelaide.
Off the Golden Princess at 0700, train to the city to dump my stuff, then train back to Port Adelaide to visit the Railway Museum, then the Maritime Museum – the Aviation Museum will have to wait for my next visit.
As I’d anticipated, the NRL is a much larger operation than Newport. It’s open seven days a week, has a small paid staff and most of the exhibits are contained in three large buildings. Our Newport locos and carriages have stood outside for fifty five years (a few getting roofed over last year) and show it. The undercover NRL exhibits are in showroom condition.
Just before my visit I read Kings of the Iron Horse, the biographies of Alf Smith (1868-1951), Chief Mechanical Engineer of Victorian Railways, and his protege Fred Shea (1891-1970). By the early 1920s SAR was on the point of collapse and a Canadian, W.A.Webb, was brought in to turn them round and Fred Shea was recommended to him by VR for the post of CME. Shea’s principal achievement was the acquisition of a fleet of ‘big engines’, some of the most powerful ever seen in Australia.
I started the day at Flinders Street Baptist Church, one of Adelaide’s oldest, then spent most of the afternoon exploring city centre attractions, principally the Adelaide Museum and the Art Gallery of South Australia.
As it was a fine afternoon, I took the tram (Adelaide currently has just one tram route) to Glenelg, a seaside suburb about 30 minutes away.
Finally, back to the city for an early night as I needed to be at the Overland terminal by 0645.