|Nepean Times, Saturday 23 August 1884|
The walls of the old Masonic Hall never sur- rounded a more vigorous and jovial assemblage of males as on Saturday evening Iast, when about 150 whistle blowers from the railway assembled socially to drink numerous toasts and be happy. The catering was entrusted to the propietor of the Masonic Hotel, adjoining the Hall, and was not up to the expectation ot the enginemen, who on previous occasions had things in that particular line par excellence; but for all that every one, from the Premier downwards enjoyed themselves immensely and the tables didn't groan with the weight they really laughed again with the burly company.
It was truly a sublime sight to picture the happy faces as each one took their seat and gazed over a field of flowers, fruit, well cooked dishes, and a glitterrlng army of bottles, silvered tipped and labelled with pet pictures as bull dogs, boars heads, and others of a zoological order; and still more sub- lime was the sight when five minutes later each occupant of a chair had opened a refreshment stall and private bar to himself, and Pontorti string band struck up "Still so gently, o'er me stealing," the mind deliciously related. Hot boxes, loose pins, hand signals for the nonce were sent to limbo and the old Masonic Hall seemed to be somewhere just inside Paradise. Clink the glasses merrily boys, this is the enginemen's convivial hour.
The Chair was taken by driver H.J. Bland, president of the Locomotive Engine Drivers and Firemen's Association of New South Wales, and really a more suitable man could not have been selected for that important position on such an occasion, for he seemed to be as much at home in the Chair—side by side with the Premier of the colony—as he is on his own engine; Jimmy Bland stands in the front rank as an engineman and is most certainly a credit, to his calling. In the immediate neighbourhood of the Chair sat several distinguished public men, viz. :—The Hon. Alex. Stuart, Messrs J. .Sutherland and A. Cameron, Ms.L.A., the latter wearing spectacles which made him look as fierce as Tommy Newport when it's his Sunday on.
The Toast of the Queen was drunk royally with musical honors. Our own "Campy" then in a neat speech proposed " The Parliament of New South Wales," The Hon. A. Stuart replied at considerable length, as did the veteran Mr. J. Sutherland and Mr. A. Cameron, the latter taking advantage of the occasion to give the Victorian Premier a rap re Federation. Mr. Ledger, one of the invited guests and a delegate from the Locomotive Engine Drivers Association of Victoria, sat next to Mr. Cameron, and if looks go for anything I imagine that the gay and festive, young cuss from Ballarat would liked to have knocked Mr. Cameron's spectacles off.
The Hon. John Sutherland made the best speech of the evening. it was brief and to the point. The honorable A. Stuart crowded out the programme and became tedious in the extreme ; the golden rule of speaking, and more especially at a banquet, is to know just when to leave off. Mr. Stuart evidently mistook the old Masonic Hall, for Parliament House. The next toast " Our Holidays, Well Used and Long Continued " was in a neat speech proposed by Mr. Edward Harrison, and was drank more heartily than any other. Holidays are everything to an engineman. Outsiders can scarcely imagine how sweet holidays are to a railway man, for he has to work all the harder on public holidays ; the great events of the year are lost to him unless he happens to be on his holidays at the time.
The next toast "Our Invited Guests." was pro posed by the Vice-Chairman Mr. John Heron, senior driver of Penrith, who looked as happy as a sunbeam. I missed Mr. Heron at the last annual dinner ; he was away holiday keeping on the bonny hills of Scotland, his native country. His was a well deserved holiday and the ocean trip has evidently done him a lot of good. May his gigantic shadow never grow less.
The Association's talented and energetic secretary, Mr. D. Moore, next proposed "The Association," which was drunk with much enthusiasm. The Association is making rapid strides, and is placing the engineman as a body on quite different footing, to that which they previously held. It is decidedly significant to see no less a personage than the Premier of the Colony responding to their Invitation. The Association has a great future in store. Let them be united and everything will be in their own hands. The founders are deserving of very great praise, and bye-and-bye when it has more fully established itself into a declded success, it will be said with earnest truth that David Moore contributed largely towards that success.
Several songs were pleasantly rendered during the evening by Messrs T. Wilson, G. Bowen, and J. McLaughlin. The "Press " and the " Ladies " being toasted and responded to, brought the time for moving near at hand. So "our host" was neglected, so the Queen was God blessed, and the Enginemen's dinner hour of 1884 was a thing of the past. Before closing, let me add that each one regretted the absence of two brother Enginemen, who were familiar to all, viz,, poor old Tommy Cornwell, and Theodore Burgess, who had gone from among them during the year. Theodore was an extremely lively customer and was always a leading light in the social side of the Locomotive life.
Tommy Cornwell was the very opposite to Theodore, for Tom was the most unassuming man on the line; he was in the service for 28 years—twenty eight years of narrow escapes, for every railway man's life is fear fully uncertain. Tommy's place in the service was not a conspicuous one—not very brilliant as an engineman didn't know much about lap and lead, or the Westinghouse brake—but with the gifts he did possess, I think he done his part better than any of us; He was the only engineman who I never heard say a " cuss word."
Number 21 engine at one time possessed the most obstinate of obstinate injectors—and where is the engineman who has not said some dark and fearful things about injectors, Tom used to sweat over this one and look all the time as happy as a civil servant on pay day, while his mate would swear and fuss and be as figetty as a bob tail horse in fly time, or Dan Corkery when his sand boxes were empty. Well poor old Tom went out suddenly to meet his old mate Jack Kennedy—run over by a fifty ton engine.