Explore South Eveleigh
Delve deeper into the stories of South Eveleigh and discover the social and political movements, changing technologies, working conditions and developments that contribute to the incredible history of this place.
Eveleigh Social Life
To its workers, Eveleigh Railway Workshops was far more than simply a place of work. The Workshops were an important community nexus for workers and their families that connected work life, home life and social and recreation activities, not to mention the significant political activism at Eveleigh’s heart.
Work Health and Safety at Eveleigh
The Eveleigh Locomotive Workshops were a dirty and dangerous place to work, complete with open forges, heavy machinery, poor sanitary amenities, deafening noise, and long-term exposure to asbestos and smoke.
Eveleigh at War
The advanced engineering and manufacturing skills, machinery, and experience required to maintain, repair, construct and operate locomotives, unsurprisingly also lent itself to the production of war ordnances such as munitions—a fact that the Australian government took advantage of during both WW1 and WW2.
NSW Railway Institute
Railway Commissioner Goodchap is credited with the idea to establish the NSW Railway Institute in 1883, when he sent Locomotive Engineer Mr William Scott to study the practices of the leading railway systems of the world, for the purpose of “training of our own men for every position in the service”.
Pranks and Jokes
Despite the harsh conditions and tight surveillance experienced by the workers of Eveleigh, comradery, humour and mischief were still essential to workshop life. Pranks and jokes played on unsuspecting workers, usually young and inexperienced apprentices, were just another hazard of the job.
Evolution of the ATP
The advent of diesel locomotion in the 1950s signaled the beginning of the end for the Eveleigh Railway Workshops. The NSW final passenger service pulled by a steam locomotive was in 1963, and by 1965, all of the NSW steam locomotive fleet had either been decommissioned or relocated to other workshops.
Unionism at Eveleigh
More than just the heart of the NSW transport network, Eveleigh Railway Workshops were also a focal point of the labour movement and unionism in Australia. From its earliest years of operation, Eveleigh was highly unionised and, supported by the emerging Labour party, a key contributor to railway workers winning significant work concessions and rights including the eight-hour day, five-day week, and minimum rates of pay.