Produced by the Australian Technology Park in Sydney, this is an interview with former Eveleigh Workshop engineer Richard Butcher. Once the centre of rail assembly and maintenance in New South Wales, the Eveleigh Railway Workshops now form part of the Australian Technology Park.
Butcher started work at Eveleigh in the 1950s, with the intention of driving steam locomotives. He remembers there being little consideration for safety, with workers exposed to molten metal without protective clothing. If they were hit by flying sparks they were required to keep working. Many of the workers were new migrants and they learned many things from them, such as how to cook new meals. By the end of his career, Butcher held a senior engineer’s position at the Railways Department.
Since finishing in 1991, he has been campaigning to save the Workshops, writing a report to the federal and state governments in which he referred to Eveleigh as finest Victorian era steam railway workshop in the world. Butcher wrote a book titled Steam Days on the North Coast of New South Wales (1990), which tells the story of railway, aircraft and ship building at Eveleigh. He also wrote the book, The Great Eveleigh Railway Workshops: A Personal Reminiscence (2004).
Author: J Bird, 2023