Eveleigh Social Life

“…you’ve also got to consider it was pretty much a social life - the Railways in general…People had a Railway identity. Their identity was very much related to their working situation…” Brian Dunnett, former Eveleigh worker

Eveleigh Loco lunch hour entertainment boxing.

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.

Social committees were formed in many large railway centres across NSW and Eveleigh was no exception. While training and social activities were offered by the NSW Railway Institute in their building near Central Station, as a centre of activity employing over 3000 people, Eveleigh had its own plethora of social groups and events. 

“We used to have marvellous harbour functions twice a year. We would get a ferry and load it up with kegs of grog, buckets of prawns and meat prawns and all these sorts of things. We'd have one close to Christmas which was a family one with wives and husbands, and a bucks one in the middle of the year, on these ferries.

…The annual picnic was more management inspired. We had volunteers who worked practically the year-round doing bits and pieces to organise the annual picnic. And there were two of those. There was the workshop picnic was for everybody, all grades”.
John R. Bruce, former Eveleigh worker

Cricket between the rail tracks at Eveleigh

Eveleigh’s social life included a wide variety of activities from chess clubs, gardening clubs, and bowling clubs, to boxing events, choirs and table tennis. From rock and roll concert events, cricket, and movies, to family picnic days and harbour functions. Social events were held both at the Workshops themselves, as well as other Sydney locations like Nielsen Park, Taronga Zoo, and Manly, and were a major part of Eveleigh life and community.

“They had a pretty good flower club in the Eveleigh loco workshops. I remember there were some pretty keen gardeners…the shop committee used to have things for sale, you could buy your fertilisers and sprays”. Keith Johnson, former Eveleigh worker