REDDIES MEET: Max Forsyth, Barrie Vine and Myles Hennelly are organising a 15-year Redbank workshops reunion.
REDDIES MEET: Max Forsyth, Barrie Vine and Myles Hennelly are organising a 15-year Redbank workshops reunion. Rob Williams

Redbank's old workers recall past good times

THE days were long and the work hard, but scores of blokes who worked at the Redbank railway workshops during their heyday are still sharing happy memories.

The "Reddies" as they are known, are a group formed in 1998 at the insistence of Anne Vine, the wife of retired railway labourer Barrie Vine.

Just over 100 former workers reunited at the first gathering and, since then, between 60 and 80 have remained in twice-yearly contact.

The next Reddies reunion is planned for September 18.

Mr Vine who started at Redbank in 1963 said he did everything from cleaning, draining oil, fuel or water and for a while was even a crane driver.

"Sometimes it could be a mongrel of a job," he said.

Fellow labourer Max Forsyth said the best thing about the workshops was the variety of skills that the workers could pick up.

"You could get your forklift licence and all sorts of things - sometimes you'd be working in the foundry, then overhaul, then you'd be with the electricians," he said.

The work was not without its hazards - Mr Forsyth said workers were often exposed to chromated water - but in those days nobody seemed to worry.

Former workers reflect mostly on the skill of the tradesmen.

Mr Vine said it was nice to share happy memories with old mates at an occasion other than a funeral.

"We started with 120 and have unfortunately lost a few blokes along the way," he said.

"For us it is just the excitement to see your old mates are still alive. Every year they get a bit less."

Myles Hennelly, a former incoming goods checker, paid tribute to Mrs Vine for convincing workers it was worth organising proper and regular reunions.

"She's the one who told Barrie that he's not getting any younger," Mr Hennelly said.

The reunion will be held at Banjo's in Bell St from about 10.30am on September 18.

For more information, contact Barrie on 3281 3692.

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