Despite the large workforce at Eveleigh, canteen and meal rooms remained a virtually non-existent feature of the workshops until after WW2. Finally in 1949, following a long but successful campaign by Eveleigh unions since 1944, the ‘munitions annexe’ mezzanine level constructed in the southern half of Bay 5 during WW2, was converted into a canteen, meal room and event space for the employees of the Locomotive Workshop.
Located on a mezzanine platform supported on timber columns, the canteen was accessed via a long set of wooden stairs from the Bay 5 floor. The canteen featured seating for 334 people, a 36-foot (c.10m) serving counter, a large stage complete with dressing rooms in the wings and footlights, as well as toilet and shower facilities. The staff canteen space was a vibrant active communal area for Eveleigh workers, and hosted numerous artistic activities and social events including concerts, movies, plays, and distinct award prizes.
“We also had lunch hour concerts once a month and they extended our lunch hour from 37 minutes to an extra 20 minutes…during that time we had a lot of prominent artists … Among them were the 'Bee Gees' and Frank Enfield, Buster Nobel, Kerman Brothers, amongst others, a lot…. They used to get five pounds for appearing at a concert…” Bob Matthews, former Eveleigh worker
In the 1990s, the canteen was left in place in Bay 5 and built around for the redevelopment of the site for ATP. This structure of the canteen was again uncovered during construction works as part of Mirvac’s South Eveleigh redevelopment, and has been integrated into the design for the adaptive re-use of the Locomotive Workshops.
ARHS NSW 2018, “Eveleigh Canteen in Bay 5”. Unpublished report.
1953 'ENTHUSIASM AT RECITAL FOR WORKERS', The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), 12 March, p. 5. (LATE FINAL EXTRA), viewed 17 May 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article230720808
Butcher, R. 2018, “Bay 5 Canteen”. Letter correspondence for ATP.