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.

Hats made from old newspapers were often work by Eveleigh workers to protect their hair from the grease, grime and dirt of the workshops

Former worker Jack Bruce, who spent almost 50 years working for the Railways, recalls that pranks were usually played once the foreman had left the shop. One such prank involved workers being sent to the Blacksmiths’ Shops with a wheelbarrow and told to say that they were there to collect the Davy Press, which was largest press of its kind in Australia! Another elaborate prank recalled by Bruce involved a game of flipping a penny into a funnel tucked into a worker’s belt… or so the unsuspecting worker thought until he received the unpleasant shock of having one of his workmates pour a bucket of water into the funnel instead.

Bob Matthews, who worked in the Machine Shops, recalls sending apprentices or shop boys to the Blacksmiths’ Shop to ask the foreman for a long wait… “Away the kid would go and he’d come back very despondent because nobody would give him this long wait. It was over an hour probably…”