NEW BLOOD AND NEW INITIATIVES
The Windsor Accident
During Speight’s first three years driving the Victorian Railways all the signals were green. The press was favourable, politicians respectful and the union movement pliant. But through no fault of his, from the 11th May 1887 the signals began to change. In the dusk of that fateful Wednesday evening he was travelling home in the brake van of the 5.40 pm Down Brighton express when a sudden hiss of air, grinding of the wheels and whistling from the engine alerted him to an emergency application of the Westinghouse brake. In seconds the sickening thump of a collision was followed by the cracking and splintering of wood as carriages telescoped into one another. The Brighton express had run into the rear of the preceding 5.30 pm Elsternwick stopping train, part of the wreckage being forced over the top of the express engine.  The Elsternwick train had halted short of the outer Home signal in the cutting which curves into Windsor station, out of view of the signalman. It was held there pending arrival of a preceding train at Balaclava. When Windsor received ‘line clear’ from Balaclava, the Distant signal was set to proceed, but on attempting to start his train, the driver discovered that a Westinghouse brake hose had burst, preventing the brakes from releasing. Instead of walking back with detonators and his signal lamp to warn the oncoming express, the guard busied himself with the driver trying to free the brakes. Had the clerk at Prahran followed the block signalling rules, all would have been safe, but the lad had only been employed for twelve days and was still unschooled in the system. The Distant signal for Windsor was on the same post as the Prahran starting signal, and when the lad saw the distant fall to proceed, he took this as ‘line clear’ and released the starting signal for the express. But Windsor had not sent the ‘line clear’ code! Unaware that the 5.30 pm train was halted beyond his outer Home signal, the Windsor signalman made no telephone call to Prahran to say the line was blocked, and the driver and fireman of the oncoming express engine came on at full steam, barely having time to apply their brakes before colliding with the stationary train.  They stayed with their engine rather than jump clear and were killed, as were four passengers. Some 250 passengers were injured. It was the worst accident yet to occur on the Victorian Railways, equalling the Jolimont accident of 1881 for loss of passengers’ lives, but the number of injured was greater.
The Coroners inquiry lasted sixteen days, and ran in parallel with a railway inquiry. The result was the dismissal of the driver and guard of the stopping train, and also the Prahran Stationmaster. But the accident robbed Speight of some of his esteem, and gave ammunition to the diehard Berryites. One of them, David Gaunson MLA, acted as counsel for the Enginedrivers’ and Firemen’s Association, and in defending the driver he accused Speight of manslaughter, claiming ‘the whole administration is on trial!’  Gaunson was rude and did not endear himself to the Coroner and other counsel, but then he had defended the notorious bushranger Ned Kelly six years earlier. The Kelly Gang’s attempt to wreck a police train at Glenrowan and massacre its passengers was foiled, but Gaunson dissembled Kelly’s own admission and action in an effort to stay his execution.  Gaunson’s charge against Speight and the railway management was a nonsense, but attacks against the Commissioners increased.
The accident took some of the gloss of Speight’s achievements and resulted in compensation claims of £129,000 which were charged against working expenses.  The railways made their first net profit in Speight’s second year, with another net profit in his third year. But the massive compensation payouts in the 1886-7 financial year following the Windsor crash sent the books back into the red, or so it seemed. Resentful and jealous critics now had grounds to attack the Chairman of Commissioners. The perennial shortage of wagons during the wheat harvest, carriages not to some passenger’s standard of comfort and cleanliness, together with staff manners and deference less than acceptable to others now all became Speight’s fault.  But paying compensation payouts from working expenses was not good accounting, and was abolished some years later. There would have been another net profit that year if this had been done.
The following year, Speight’s fifth, showed another net profit. Compensation payments aside, this was effectively four net profits in a row after meeting substantial interest payments on all loans, an item also removed from railway accounts after Speight’s term. Any fair comparison of railway profitability under Speight with former and later management must be made without these items. Whereas a private railway distributed profit to shareholders by way of dividends, Speight believed profit made by a government owned railway should be distributed to the owners in the form of reduced rates and fares, and better services.  He pursued this course from his first year, making reductions in freight rates, introducing cheap family fares to seaside destinations, reduced yearly tickets to country destinations and student concessions, all with a positive impact on revenue. The seaside fares even allowed fathers to travel to and from their work for no extra charge while their families stayed at the beach!  To further stimulate demand Speight increased the number of train services in the year to 30th June 1887. Train miles run that year were twenty percent higher than 1883, the year prior to his arrival.  This increased expenses, but the growth in business more than compensated. Speight had witnessed similar policies boost profitability on the Midland Railway in England, where he worked alongside James Allport. In 1875 the Midland took the unprecedented step of abolishing second class, reclassifying second class carriages as third class, and reducing the cost of first class tickets. The dreadful third class carriages that had been replaced were broken up and a guarantee was given that all third class carriages would henceforth have cushioned seats. This was seen as pampering to the working classes, but it won the Midland more revenue and forced other railway companies to reluctantly follow suit. As previously discussed, the Midland also revolutionised passenger accommodation in England by importing American Pullman cars in 1874, and two years later introducing the revolutionary Ashbury carriages. 
The Death of Agg and Promotion of Greene
In October 1886 Commissioner Alfred Agg died. A diabetic, his health had deteriorated, and he was unable to accompany Speight and Ford to Dimboola on the test run of the Boudoir cars. He passed away at his Elsternwick home a few weeks later on 16th October, only 57 years of age. His death deprived Speight of a valuable colleague with an indispensable knowledge of government finance.  After some months, and on the day the first Express left for Adelaide, the vacant third Commissioner’s position was awarded to 56 years old William Greene, then Engineer of Existing Lines.
Of Irish birth, like his former colleague Thomas Higinbotham, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, he was initially employed by railways in Ireland and Spain, then migrated to Melbourne and joined the infant Victorian Railways in July 1855. A trusted lieutenant of Higinbotham’s, he shared management of the VR while the Engineer-in-Chief was overseas in 1874, and paid for his loyalty by being sacked in the Berry governments purge of Black Wednesday, 1878. Briefly recalled in 1880, he suffered dismissal again by the second Berry government. He then consulted for other colonial railways and the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company. His plans for 45½ miles of street tramways became the basis of Melbourne’s cable tram network, the largest in the world.  He was reinstated by the O’Loghlen Government in early 1882 as Engineer for Existing Lines. On his return Greene became heavily involved with a profusion of large civil engineering projects, including the new stations at Richmond, Princes-bridge, North Melbourne and Geelong, the Newport Workshops, the raising of the St. Kilda and Port Melbourne lines, new Yarra River bridges, alterations at South Yarra junction and track duplications to suburban Brighton, Camberwell, Oakleigh and the North-eastern mainline from Essendon to Seymour Flats.  According to The Argus, he was considered a most able officer and had always been popular in the Department.  Even The Age agreed, a complete volte face from its position four years earlier. 
Mirls Takes a Holiday
In November 1886 Solomon Mirls returned from Adelaide after testing the Newport built carriages and helping arrange regular through services. He was then granted twelve months leave of absence to visit Europe. The announcement mentioned he was to visit the leading locomotive builders and engineers, but later it was explained that he was suffering ill health, so it was really a holiday. Although in his early forties, he was suffering liver disease  and the stress of managing the Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Branch for nearly a decade may have aggravated the condition. He had endured more than his fair share of disputation, criticism and partisan manoeuvring. He had been instrumental in making the Woods hydraulic continuous brake work, campaigned steadfastly for new workshops, supervised the renovation of the Hobson’s Bay rolling stock and negotiated all the arrangements for the building and maintenance of joint stock carriages with Thow and Mais in South Australia.
Having seen his big 0-6-0 ‘Jumbos’ successfully steamed up and the rolling stock arrangements for the introduction of the Adelaide Express implemented, Mirls was given a banquet at the Collins street Masonic Hall on 10th February. Chaired by Richard Speight, it was attended by over 400 railwaymen and was the largest gathering of its kind yet made for a railway officer. All the Heads of Branches were present, as was John Woods, MLA, who had advanced Mirls’ career. Woods and Mirls were also office holders in the Victorian Engineer’s Association.  As a token of their affection the men presented his wife Sarah with a diamond bracelet and his thirteen years old daughter Gwendoline  with a diamond broach.  The Commissioners had prevented Mirls being presented with a purse of sovereigns, as this was against Government regulations which forbade subordinates giving presents to their managers, except on their retirement. Gillies had applied the rule to John Anderson four years earlier, but the gifting of jewellery to Mirls’ wife and daughter effectively contravened this rule, but hardly anyone noticed!  It was a lovely gesture, and unknown to them all it would replace a retirement farewell Mirls was to be denied. Two weeks later Mr. and Mrs. Mirls, their five children and a nurse to care for toddler Vera, sailed on the RMS Parramatta, and Allison Smith took over as Acting Locomotive Superintendent. 
At the time the Victorian government was preparing for another International Exhibition and selected the VR Accountant, George Lavater, as the Exhibition’s Secretary. He had been with the Railways 26 years, commencing before the opening of the first mainlines, and was replaced by his assistant, Robert Kemp, on Speight’s recommendation.  But there were bigger managerial changes in early 1887.
Mirls was one of several heads of branches who had been appointed by political Commissioners before Speight’s arrival. Mirls and John Anderson had loyalties to the Berryite protectionists who had elevated them to management following Black Wednesday 1878. Both Anderson and Mirls, along with Zeal, had recommended adoption of the Woods hydraulic brake in 1882.  Anderson and Mirls were part of a small group that travelled by special train to Sydney with Bent, Woods and R.G. Ford.  They were also the only heads of branches to attend the annual dinner of the EDFA (Engine Drivers and Fireman’s Association) in 1884, where Woods, Bent and the radical Gaunson were guests. Bent remarked that Anderson had told him on his return from overseas that no railway in England or America could compare with the Victorian Railways, even when they were under political management. 
Clearly Speight did not think so. Some months after his arrival he told the Little River accident inquiry that in England train movements were
‘… regulated by a central telegraph operator at headquarters and no one else, so that the control is in hands competent for the duty, and not liable to variations such as may be the case with a stationmaster.’
But at the same inquiry, Anderson said that:-
‘…permanent stationmasters ought to have the power of suspending the staff system in cases of emergency.’ 
Speight therefore had a General Traffic Manager who was not a stickler for modern safeworking practice. He must also have noticed that both Anderson and Mirls had health issues, but were well liked by their staffs. His appointment of Allison Smith as Assistant Locomotive Superintendent provided a succession plan in case of Mirls’ retirement and also strengthened the management of the Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Branch.
Although an important witness at the Windsor accident inquiry, Anderson did not impress the coroner. He was a bachelor with a rather brusque manner, and suffered from a speech impediment and diabetes.  He controlled a staff of over 400,  and had shown aptitude from an early age. Emigrating from Scotland with his family in 1854, he joined the G&MR in 1857 as a 27 year old and was placed in charge of the Greenwich terminal. Next he was made their agent in Melbourne, using his earlier experience as a Supercargo on steamers plying between Glasgow and the Western Isles. In that role he supervised all matters relating to the vessel’s cargo, selling and purchasing the merchandise on behalf of the owners. One of the few officers taken on by the VR when the G&MR was nationalised, Anderson was made Chief Clerk at Woodend in 1861, and as the line was extended he was appointed Stationmaster at Castlemaine and then Sandhurst. In 1869 he became Chief Clerk at Spencer Street, rising to Assistant Traffic Manager under Mathison, who was sacked by Woods on Black Wednesday.  In his stead Woods promoted Anderson, with the renamed title of General Traffic Manager.
Anderson had reservations about the value of the telegraph block working introduced from 1878, and was dismissive of calls for improved safeworking. He believed that trains with continuous brakes did not need the added protection of the block system!  This distrust of block working and an over confidence in continuous brakes was a factor in his acceptance of lax staff at stations which led to the Windsor accident. Prior to his departure on twelve months leave of absence in 1883 the Traffic Branch employees had collected over £200 for a testimonial gift, but by then Gillies was Minister for Railways and was not comfortable with gifts being given by employees to a manager who was not retiring. The money had to be returned to the men, but over 100 attended a farewell banquet.  Gillies also wanted Anderson to make a report on his railway observations in Europe and America, but declined to pay the requested expenses of two guineas per day. On his return from overseas, Anderson found that he had been passed over by Gillies for one of the Commissioner positions, but as a consolation had his salary increased from £850 to a very generous £1,400 per annum, only £100 less than the two subordinate Commissioners.  When Commissioner Agg subsequently died, Anderson was again passed over for the vacant position in favour of Greene, as an engineer was needed to support Speight. 
Gillies and Speight were careful in their treatment of Anderson, but the train wreck at Windsor provided the opportunity to gently move him aside. Speight was accused of being too loyal and forgiving towards his managers,  but the jury of the Windsor inquiry had found that
‘…the work of the traffic branch had grown beyond the capacity of the men who were in charge of it… They had been labouring here in this remote part of the world, they had not had opportunities of seeing what other people were doing, and it was more to be wondered at that they succeeded so well than that they failed at all.’ 
Anderson had indeed had an opportunity of seeing how railways were run overseas but did not see the need for fundamental change. Speight responded by restricting Anderson to administrative work,  still with full salary and title, and put his deputy Richard Francis in sole control of the running of all trains. Francis was charged with smartening up discipline in the operating staff and except for the management of the goods sheds was effectively put in charge of the Branch, reporting directly to the Commissioners. He was given the title Outdoor Traffic Superintendent. 
Not everybody was happy. Either Anderson took offence at the criticism, or someone took secondary offence, as a stinging rebuke of Speight’s leadership was published by The Bendigo Advertiser in November 1887 under the nom de plume ‘Scrutator’. Speight was called an egotist and his use of a specially made carriage on inspection tours was singled out as unnecessarily ostentatious. Anderson and former Commissioners were said to have been content to mostly use ordinary carriages and trains. (Was the writer unaware of Bent’s two week junket to Sydney?) Speight’s success in making the railway profitable was downplayed and the 1883 Railway Management Act condemned as a mistake. Men like Anderson were said to be slighted, and Allison Smith was meted out for special opprobrium as a bungler who was selected over capable Victorian skilled engineers. 
It was so much scuttlebutt, but indicative of the turning tide, especially by some of the press. But it was hard for John Anderson, whose diabetes flared soon after Francis’ appointment. Then some months later a lung infection exacerbated his condition and he died three days after Christmas, 1887.  His funeral was a huge affair, with over 600 attending, Traffic Branch employees being encouraged to travel to Melbourne to pay their respects. Gillies, Speight and the other Commissioners were pall-bearers, and all the Heads of Branches attended.  Richard Francis was subsequently appointed Traffic Manager. 
Allison Smith returned from a holiday in Tasmania  a week after the large banquet held for Mirls on 10th February 1887. After handing over his duties to his Assistant,  Mirls sailed for Europe on holiday with his wife and family.  His departure was viewed with foreboding by some of the men. Allison Smith was determined to smarten up the Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Branch workforce and instil the discipline essential for safeworking on an increasingly complex and busy railway network. A lackadaisical culture had developed, fostered by the unwillingness of management to discipline employees who had been foisted on all branches of the railways through political patronage. Within four months of his arrival in the colony Speight curbed this cronyism by introducing exams for new recruits.  But large numbers of the old guard remained, their ineptness and culpability tolerated by managers like Anderson and Mirls, themselves owing their positions to political favour.
While Speight’s reputation was strong the preferred means of attacking his administration was to find fault with Allison Smith, whose real ‘crime’ was his insistence on discipline. Now he was in charge and soon the men were smarting under the new regime. By early July the enginemen’s angst prompted the EDFA to call a mass meeting at the Trades Hall. That they could think drunken drivers in charge of trains should be excused is difficult to comprehend, and yet many of them had been convicted of inebriety while on duty, some of them more than once. One driver had been fined fourteen times in six years, Allison Smith listing an extraordinary litany of carelessness.
‘He was reprimanded for shunting a number of trucks off the rails through carelessness, cautioned for delay in the shunting yard, fined a day’s pay for running through the shed doors, cautioned for breaking away from his train and running on before discovering the accident, reprimanded for not noticing that the wheel of his tender was loose, fined for allowing a Queensland driver to ride on his train, both being drunk, fined for running through the Malmsbury station and leaving the mails behind, reprimanded for passing a danger signal and breaking a screw coupling, reduced for not keeping a look out at Sandhurst and thereby causing a collision, and reduced for running short of water at Seymour. On one occasion the same driver rushed through the Richmond station at the rate of 35 miles an hour to the great danger of jumping the rails at the cross over junction.’
Smith further noted a
‘… fireman was suspended for not reporting that his driver was drunk whilst on duty and [his] certificate cancelled for three months for allowing the safety plug in the boiler to be melted out and the tubes damaged to a great extent. Another driver was reduced for culpable negligence in making his engine collide violently with the buffer stops at a certain station.’
A fusible plug (safety plug) made from metal with a lower melting point than the surrounding metal was placed in the firebox crown sheet in case the water level in the boiler fell. Without a covering of water over the inner firebox an explosion would occur, but this was averted by the fusible plug melting and allowing a jet of pressurised steam and water to extinguish the fire. Allowing this to happen is one of the cardinal sins of an engineman, besides endangering life by the blow-back into the cab through the firehole. But Smith reported even worse negligence inflicted by Driver Miles on brand new ‘Jumbo’ X377. 
‘A driver was reduced for having burned out a fire box and 70 tubes in the boiler, the damage amounting to about £300. The employé in question was running the locomotive — which had come out of the Phoenix Foundry — on a trial trip, and through sheer neglect, almost wrecked the engine.’
Driver Guest was drunk when he took his train out of Flinders Street against a danger signal and steamed across the path of an incoming Brighton train loaded with passengers, including Commissioners Speight and Green, Engineer of Existing Lines John Lunt, and Assistant Traffic Manager Richard Francis. With such powerful witnesses it is amazing that John Guest was not dismissed; merely reduced to driving goods trains for six months. Lenient penalties such as this gave employees an expectation of job security for all but downright criminal behaviour. On other railways they would have faced dismissal. The M&HBUR insisted their drivers be sober and vigilant, and ruled that passing a signal at danger would be met with dismissal. But when Allison Smith began to tighten discipline the aggrieved enginemen complained he was too harsh. The malcontents used the EDFA to strike back at him and the Sunday mass meeting unanimously resolved:-
‘The members of the association view with alarm and indignation the undue and severe punishment inflicted upon some of their members by the acting locomotive superintendent, and we respectfully protest against the objectionable system being continued, as an officer who does not command the respect of his subordinates cannot maintain discipline’
But not all drivers agreed. One was Driver Kelly, who had left the union five years earlier, perceiving no benefit in his membership. Kelly had responded when Allison Smith called for drivers to volunteer to test heavier loads if conditions were favourable. This resulted in the standard load for the big new X class ‘Jumbos’ being increased on the North Eastern mainline. Some of his lazy mates decided to punish Kelly and sabotaged his locomotive, interfering with its valve gear and replacing its lubricating oil with water. But Kelly’s vigilance averted damage to his engine. 
Commissioner Speight handled the enginemen’s complaint with his typical tact. Figures were produced proving to the men that fines meted out by Allison Smith were similar in aggregate to those by Mirls for an equivalent period. He undertook to provide the union with full details of each case complained of, and left the door open for appeals should they feel an injustice had been done. Nevertheless he supported Allison Smith’s discipline, sweetening the pill by agreeing with the enginemen that the confiscation of their certificates while stood down from driving was unnecessary.  It was a pyrrhic win for the union, as there was no other railway stood down drivers could find work on without leaving the colony.
The crisis died down and in November 1887 Allison Smith was engaged to Speight’s eldest daughter.  (She was always referred to as ‘Miss Speight’, the social convention at the time for the eldest daughter, while younger sisters were referred to with given names).  The day after this was announced, a poisonous attack on both Speight and Allison Smith was published in Sandhurst.  By that time Ballarat and Sandhurst interests were up in arms against the perceived centralisation of rolling stock maintenance and construction at Newport.
Browned off enginemen nursing resentments against their strict boss bided their time waiting for an opportunity to attack again. He gave it to them by seeking to improve the balance of the driving wheels on No.365, one of the X class Jumbos. Locomotive design was not his forte, and seventeen days after being outshopped X365 damaged rails while flying down the Sunbury bank at speed with a short goods train of just a few trucks. As no damage had been reported previous to this incident Smith assumed the fault was excessive speed and suspended the engine crew, igniting unrest again among the enginemen, who feared they were to be scapegoats for his error. Some 200 attended a mass meeting and expressed alarm at his management; accusing him of maladministration.  An internal railway inquiry subsequently found an error of judgement had indeed been made in altering the balance of the engine, and recommended it be returned to its former condition. But they also recommended the crew be fined for untruthful testimony regarding the speed of the train. 
The incident with X365 occurred about six weeks before Mirls returned from his holiday, when he was welcomed at Williamstown Workshops with ringing hammers on anvils and hearty cheers.  His ‘bluff, rough but kindly’  ways had endeared him to the men: he was as benign as Allison Smith was severe. But the need for discipline in the Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Branch was palpable. In Mirls’ absence, Allison Smith had reduced a driver to a labourer for carrying over the Train Staff when working the Gippsland line. Such a serious breach of safeworking certainly warranted strong discipline, but it is a reflection on the old easy- going attitudes that the EDFA lodged an appeal. Changing a culture takes time, strength and understanding, but Speight made it clear that the new safeworking rules must be obeyed.  Nevertheless he allowed the driver to be restored but banned him from work on the mainline. 
Allison Smith’s friend Peter Ellis, Manager of the carriage builder G.F. Pickles & Son at Sandhurst came to his defence. Ellis had worked with Smith in New Zealand, and saw history repeating itself:-
‘…what else can be expected of any man who has the courage to attempt improvements in the railways, and to enforce strict discipline? He (Mr. Smith) encountered the same opposition in New Zealand, when he took charge of the locomotive department there about twelve years ago; nearly all the men were up in arms against him, and for lack of other crimes to impute to him, charged him with being a ‘young’ man. Here it seems an even more ridiculous charge is brought against him—‘incompetency!’ …I boldly say that I admire Mr. Smith’s British courage under the fire of criticism, his rare abilities as an administrator, and above all, his strict sense of justice and impartiality, and I do not believe that any inducement would turn him from the path of business rectitude. Any man who attempts the task of rolling back the tide of disorder in any large concern, will be besmirched with the mud of jealousy and malice from disappointed place seekers…’
There were still peeved protectionists and enginemen smarting at Allison Smith’s appointment, but other colleagues spoke highly of his abilities, among them the General Manager of New Zealand Railways, J.P. Maxwell, on his visit to Melbourne some months earlier.  The workshops and engine sheds then building were evidence enough of his abilities, as were the new carriages being built at Newport. While he did not excel at locomotives, he had quite advanced ideas about rolling stock, and with Victor Siepen on his staff was able to produce some notable carriages.
New rolling stock designs
Speight had selected Kitson to design a series of locomotives with standard parts to simplify the holding of spare parts in store, and improve maintenance efficiency. Allison Smith extended this policy to rolling stock. Mirls had allowed very few vehicles to be scrapped,  as the network was growing so quickly the supply of rolling stock could not keep up with demand. But this had led to a profusion of different designs stretching back 30 years. There were over 4,500 trucks and 900 carriages and vans in service when Allison Smith arrived in mid-1885. 
Once he was in control, new designs began to appear. In October 1888 Newport outshopped the colony’s first louvre van. Newport built ten more the following year, somewhat stretching the rule that the National Workshops should only build prototypes. After a few years of evaluation, construction of the type began in earnest in 1892, with a contract for 75 awarded to P. Ellis, Bendigo and 25 concurrently at Newport.  Thousands more followed over ensuing decades. 
In 1890 designs of sheep and cattle trucks were introduced, using a standard 20 foot underframe and standardised working parts. They were heavier and more robust to stand the higher buffing stresses in Westinghouse braked trains drawn by more powerful locomotives.  Contracts for 100 sheep and 100 cattle trucks were let,  but the new trucks were criticised by the Member of Parliament for Williamstown, a Labor Party man who was the voice of Allison Smith’s disgruntled workers.  In 1889 a contract was let for 200 bogie open wagons. These too came under criticism as being too big.  But the greatest impact on the rolling stock fleet was the new design of 10 ton capacity wooden sided open truck built from 1888 to 1892. These replaced obsolete six and seven ton capacity trucks, some 2,470 of the new design being constructed by eighteen private companies, the last 290 being finished by the Victorian Railways after the bankruptcy of a contractor. 
The 21 American saloon cars added to the stock between 1875 and 1880  were not popular, and were confined to suburban services. Colonials were not ready to make long journeys in open carriages, complaining that the ‘manner they are fitted up destroys all privacy’ and that ‘160 persons can be carried in the ordinary carriages with very little more dead weight to draw than 65 can be conveyed in the American carriage’.  The upshot was that small four and six-wheelers continued to be built, with passengers crammed in like sheep in a sheep truck. In 1882 contracts were awarded to the firms of William Williams and G.F. Pickles and Son for 160 fixed wheel carriages of similar design to the Brown and Marshall cars imported for the Sydney Express. While roomier than most of the carriages built previously, Speight had witnessed better on the Midland Railway, which had gained new business by thorough attention to passenger comfort. He therefore gave Allison Smith his head to enhance the Victorian carriage stock.
Giles Dobney, the Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Branch inspector supervising the Pickles contract was also not happy with the design of the Brown and Marshall copies and recommended an alteration to provide more head-room. Allison Smith stopped the contract with 31 of the 76 carriages yet to be built,  but rather than improve the Brown and Marshall design he adopted the Ashbury style of bogie car being built at Newport for the Adelaide Express. As soon as these were complete in early 1887 Newport commenced ten 1st class cars to Allison Smiths design which was longer than the Adelaide Express cars, having seven in lieu of six compartments, and a clerestory instead of mansard roof.  The clerestory roof featured small bevelled glass windows that functioned like skylights, improving lighting for passengers in the middle of a compartment. They were also hinged to provide ventilation, an important feature in the first ten which were intended as smoking cars for suburban service: their passengers would predominantly be men, most of them smoking!  An almost identical design was made with six compartments for country trains, the compartments providing more leg room for long journeys. Allison Smith had the seats upholstered in leather rather than cloth, and made inquiries among the carriage painters to find those with talent to richly decorate the compartments with hand-painted panels.  These handsome cars were then placed on premium services like the Sydney Express, replacing the Brown and Marshall six-wheelers. Unaware of these developments, the Birmingham company sent out a six-wheeler for display at the 1888 Melbourne International Exhibition, not realising it was already out of date. Nevertheless the Victorian Railways subsequently purchased it for the excessive price of £1,500 compared with Allison Smith’s bogie cars then being built locally for £270 less. 
As mentioned in Chapter Eleven, the building of ten new bogie carriages in the National Workshops drew complaints from protectionist and provincial interests, but despite assurances Newport would confine its work to maintenance and the building of prototypes, the ten cars were followed by another dozen of similar design, except for a compartment at one end fitted up for the guard. (All the bogie cars were fitted with the Westinghouse brake, which obviated the need for separate brake vans on suburban trains. All that was necessary was a compartment for the guard). No hue and cry seems to have occurred about Newport building this second group, probably because at the same time large contracts had been let to private builders for 90 1st class bogie cars to Allison Smith’s design, together with twelve bogie brake vans for country services. 
A contract for another 50 of the 1st class design was awarded in 1888.  Then in the 1889-90 financial year five contracts were let for no less than 210 bogie passenger vehicles; 100 more of the 1st class cars (classed Aa), 50 more of the 1st class with guard’s compartment (classed ADad), and 60 passenger brake vans (classed Dd).  So from 1887 to 1892 nearly 400 bogie passenger vehicles were added to the Victorian Railways fleet! Orders were spread over four rolling stock builders: G.F. Pickles at Sandhurst, P. Bevan and Son at Footscray, Wright and Edwards at Braybrook and the Australian Rolling Stock Company at Spottiswoode. These establishments were working on slim profit margins and depended on continuing repeat rolling stock orders. But there was no guarantee this would occur!
Beside the new Joint Stock Ashbury cars being built for the Adelaide Express in 1886 was a bogie carriage of Allison Smith’s design. In March 1887 surprised journalists were shown the newly completed inspection car for the Commissioners. Later named ‘Victoria’, it was described as a ‘triumph of carriage building’ which was luxuriously fitted up with a saloon at each end, and a buffet, lavatory and a guard’s compartment. It pioneered the use of lincrusta panelling in Victorian Railways carriages, The Argus journalist gushing that the car was a ‘first class hotel in itself ’, with comfort ‘beyond that of any vehicle in the colony, not even excepting that used by His Excellency the Governor ’.  That was laying it on a bit thick: the joint stock Boudoir cars were a third longer than ‘Victoria’ and beautifully finished. ‘Victoria’ was a travelling meeting room, and was well and truly used as such by the Commissioners on tours of rural districts where they had to receive deputations of all kinds.
The compartment in the centre of the car, complete with buffet, was for Guard Bell, and is suggestive that his duties went well beyond safeworking. He had been one of the guards of the police special sent to Glenrowan in 1880 to apprehend the Kelly Gang, and was guard on special trains for the Marquis of Normanby, Sir Henry Parkes, Thomas Bent, Duncan Gillies and others. He was guard for Speight’s first inspection tours and was subsequently promoted as Commissioner’s Special Guard over the heads of some others with more seniority, which caused a few grumbles by unionists.  He features in the front line of the group of officials and politicians posed with Speight beside engine No.100 on an inspection tour.
The addition of such large numbers of new carriages and trucks enabled Allison Smith to have 960 of the older carriages and trucks broken up.  His enemies seized on this as waste and his new carriage designs as extravagance. Undeterred, and with Speight’s support, he continued to have new prototype cars built at Newport. He also devised a means of modifying the Woods hydraulic braked carriages to work with Westinghouse compressed air, and the Workshops were busy in 1887 and 1888 making these conversions to 447 carriages, vans and trucks, and replacing the hydraulic pumps on 67 locomotives with Westinghouse air compressors. Mirls had continued installation of the Woods brake after Speight arrived, but due to the Gillies compromise was also installing Westinghouse equipment. There were even 5 A class locomotives and 16 six-wheeled carriages and vans equipped with Sanders and Bolitho’s vacuum brakes for the Sydney Express service.  So by 1886 the complications of working the network with three braking systems had become ridiculous, and in December that year, the Gillies Government decided to settle with the U.C.R. Brake Company for £6,000, compensating it out of existence. 
The Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition
In August 1888 a second International Exhibition was opened in Melbourne, but this time the Victorian Railways proffered no locomotives or carriages to draw attention to the emerging engineering powerhouse at Newport. It was left to the Phoenix Foundry at Ballarat to build and exhibit the first heavy 4-4-0 to the plans purchased from Kitson and Co., Leeds. That company built and exhibited two others of their five standard designs, a heavy 0-6-0 goods engine and a large 2-4-2 suburban tank engine. All three designs were subsequently built in quantity locally, mostly by Phoenix. With no rail access, dragging heavy rolling stock by road to the Exhibition Building was a logistical nightmare, some taking a team of 20 horses. The Brown & Marshall carriage exhibited was shipped in the largest packing case said to have left England to that time. 
Speight’s Overseas Working Holiday
Speight had planned to visit England in early 1888,  but his mother Ann took ill that year and died in November.  He had now lost both his wife and mother, and with his family mostly grown up he spent much of his leisure time at the Athenaeum Club.  His eldest daughter would have assumed much of the caring role, and for whatever reason she broke off her engagement to Allison Smith.  The sadness was softened by the engagement of Speight’s daughters Sarah and Alice, with a double wedding scheduled after his return from his delayed overseas visit.  After a big send-off at Station Pier, Port Melbourne, he sailed on the RMS Massilia on 11th January 1889, accompanied by his eldest daughter, perhaps as a consolation for a difficult year. Also aboard was fifty years old bachelor Charles Goodchap, ex-Commissioner of the NSW railways, who was to tour with Speight. The NSW Railway Commissioner was not a politician, and Goodchap had served in the role nearly eleven years until a new board of three Commissioners based on the Victorian model came into force in October 1888.  Dissention among the NSW railway managers had led Premier Sir Henry Parkes to seek a new team and Goodchap was passed over. Edward Eddy was appointed Chairman, and Goodchap resigned. 
Solomon Mirls Dies
Speight’s ship must have passed the one bringing Solomon Mirls and his family home, but the holiday had not produced the cure he had hoped for. Mirls was suffering liver disease and for much of 1889 he was unable to work, leaving Allison Smith effectively in charge.  The Hanukkah festival could not have been a happy one for the Mirls family that year. Mirls died fifteen days later on 26th December, his funeral on 29th December being conducted by the Chief Rabbi, Dr. Abrahams. No Victorian railwayman has had such a send-off, indeed the funeral was thought to be the largest yet seen in Melbourne.  Four special trains brought mourners from country districts and about 1,200 men marched four abreast in front of the hearse from the Mirls home in Hotham Street, East Melbourne to the Melbourne Cemetery. With the hearse were three mourning coaches and a number of hansom cabs for the family and dignitaries including the Premier and Minister for Railways, Duncan Gillies. A number of other parliamentarians attended, including John Woods. The three Railway Commissioners were accompanied by most of the Heads of Branches and another 1,200 people walking behind. The column stretched over a mile and was watched by 5,000 to 6,000 onlookers. Police had to contain the crush at the Cemetery, which could not contain the numbers.  Mirls was only 46 years old but left his wife Sarah and five young children well provided for, one of his estate’s executors being the Chief Clerk of the Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Branch.  The enginemen’s mourning was not just for Mirls. His funeral came almost exactly two years after that of the popular General Traffic Manager, John Anderson. Their deaths marked the passing of the easy-going railway most of the men had known and the coming of a stricter regime.
Speight’s Return and the Beginning of Troubles
The heavy compensation claims following the Windsor accident, together with a growing interest bill, dragged the railways into a deficit of £53,861 in the year to June, 1888. But the result before accounting for accident compensation and allowing for an estimated £250,000 ‘dividend’ in the form of reduced fares and rates was a profit of over £196,000.  A grateful Gillies sought to increase Speight’s salary from £3,000 to £4,000 per annum. Gillies was not only Minister for Railways but Premier and Treasurer as well!  However the government was facing strengthened opposition and Gillies could not see his way clear to get parliament to ratify the increase. He did, however, give Speight a written undertaking that the increase would be approved when he returned from England, with a further increase to £5,000 per annum when his seven year contract was renewed.  This was generous indeed, but Speight had made it clear he would resign otherwise, as his old employer, the Midland Railway Company, was actively seeking to re-engage him.  With this assurance and the double wedding of Sarah and Alice awaiting his return, he declined the Midland offer and sailed home via America, crossing the Pacific on the 3,000 GWT SS Mariposa with his daughter and Charles Goodchap, tying up at Woolloomooloo on 28th June 1889. 
As the SS Mariposa crossed the Tasman it ran into a fierce gale that sent ships scurrying for shelter in coastal ports. But hove to for 20 hours en route and buffeted by very heavy seas, she arrived safely a day late. Speight had good sea legs and disembarked ‘in perfect health and vigour’ and gave an interview about his observations.  But another storm was brewing which was to wreck his career. The speculative madness of the Land Boom had peaked in late 1888 and during Speight’s absence the first big land boomer presented at the Insolvency Court. In February 1889 the estate agent and accountants Runting and Wright went bankrupt with liabilities of over £400,000  and by the end of that month the Court was handling bankruptcy applications ‘almost daily’.  Reports of these insolvencies created unease in the community, as did the deficit of the Centennial International Exhibition, which closed on 31st January 1889 with an expected loss of at least £250,000. Many were asking if the huge expense was worth it.  They were also nervously eying the vast building works in progress, with an army of tradesmen working on everything from suburban cottages to city skyscrapers, the world’s largest cable tram network and ‘Octopus Act’ railway extensions all over the colony. The highly profitable advertisements for land sales that filled pages of The Age in 1888 and were making its proprietor David Syme a wealthy man had well and truly shrunk by early 1889. He was slow to see that the impending financial crisis was the work of regiments of solicitors, barristers, stockbrokers, financiers, auctioneers, estate agents, merchants, produce brokers and accountants who accounted for 71 of the 137 secret bankruptcies made a few years later.  The extent and opaque complexity of their deals made investigative reporting daunting: Marcus Brodsky of Table Talk was the only editor to unravel their dodgy doings.  Syme, never comfortable with the independent Railway Commission, but confident the excesses of the Land Boom were only a temporary setback, turned on Speight as an easier target.  As head of the government’s largest employer and recipient of loan capital, Speight became the focus of every railway user’s complaint and every amateur engineer’s criticism. With The Age circulation approaching 100,000 its editorial criticism of the railways resonated with readers unable to fathom the hidden shenanigans of financiers and speculators.
The Press Becomes Hostile
Speight was probably unprepared for the changed mood of the colony and the cool reception he received from the press on his return. He and Goodchap had travelled extensively in the United Kingdom and North America, and returned determined to institute two major reforms. Passenger carriages needed corridors and perishable goods needed refrigerated trucks. They had also investigated electric lighting experiments for carriages but thought it best to wait until a practical system was perfected. The significance of Speight’s findings escaped journalists, even the conservative Argus complaining that ‘he appears to have seen little in his travels by which one might profit’.  The cultural cringe that was to dog Australia for over a century was already entrenched; by definition, anything in the colony must be inferior to its equivalent in Great Britain or the United States. That Melbourne was becoming one of the world’s great Victorian cities was lost on them.  Journalists were incredulous at Speight’s general observation that the Victorian Railways ‘compare in excellence with any railways I have seen’ and thought it smacked of complacency. The Age editorialist was offended and called upon the Commissioners to justify their existence, as there was ‘very little evidence of their existence other than the occasional issue of a report [and that] in all directions the evidences of mismanagement are plainly visible.’ Their evidence amounted to ‘loud and bitter complaints’ from correspondents about the ‘incivility of railway employés’.  When seeking a salary increase for Speight, Gillies said he ‘had performed his duties marvellously well [and] had shown phenomenal capacity for managing men’.  Critics afterwards delighted in mocking Speight’s ‘phenomenal’ abilities. 
Speight was misquoted three and a half months later by Mr. Armytage MLA in parliament, claiming he said the Victorian Railways were the ‘best managed in the world’. This was reported next day by The Age.  What Speight really said on his arrival in Sydney from America was reported by a Daily Telegraph journalist who asked
‘How do the colonial railways compare with the English and American lines?’ The answer came clear and straight. There was no hesitating, no beating about the bush…’ ‘The colonial railways,’ said Mr. Speight, ‘not excluding those of New South Wales, will compare in excellence with any railways I have seen. For railway service, construction of permanent way, equipment, speed of travel, cheapness of freight, I don’t think that we are much behind the United States.’
The Age copied this story, but a more thorough account of the interview in The Argus did not mention this quote. Speight had praised aspects of English and American lines which he felt needed to be adopted, and made it clear that America was in advance of NSW and Victoria. Yet journalists missed the significance of what he was saying and Armytage’s misquote in the hands of The Age fuelled a campaign of denigration that eventually cut the Commissioners down. In the following six months Syme’s papers repeated the ‘best managed railways’ misquote fourteen times. It was copied in many country papers and twice by The Herald.  In subsequent years it was repeated so frequently that it became accepted truth.
Speight’s New Initiatives
But the Victorian Railways were indeed as good as or better than any elsewhere with similar geographic conditions and mix of traffic. The accidents and corruption under political administration that had led to the Railway Management Act of 1883 were fading from memory, and the behaviour of station porters and the cleanliness of carriages were becoming the benchmark for Speight’s competence; an acid eating away his reputation.
Speight and Goodchap had been unimpressed with the ordinary English trains, which were predominantly comprised of compartment carriages dimly lit with oil lamps and without lavatories, but they considered the first class trains de luxe in Britain superior to anything in Australia.
They found the ne plus ultra of passenger trains in America. What really impressed were the central gangways and car-to-car connections of American passenger trains which enabled Conductors to attend to passengers and make arrangements for the collection of baggage while trains were in motion. Perhaps more importantly, the ability to walk through carriages also meant lavatories could be provided, but it was a subject Victorian sensibilities made it hard to elaborate on. A report in The Argus struggled to express the distress of passengers locked into a compartment on a long distance train and painfully waiting for the next station and anxious that the stop would be long enough. The American system meant
‘It will be easy to furnish such conveniences as are absolutely necessary in the interests of health. Everyone who has travelled on our lines will know to what I refer. In America a traveller knows nothing of the torments to which passengers are sometimes subjected in Victoria.’ 
Speight had been impressed with the reception of the Mann Boudoir cars on the Adelaide Express but it was not lost on him that in Victoria as in Britain, the open saloon American cars were not popular. British people were not ready for the heterogeneous mixing of classes and sexes that was accepted by the Yankees. But the Mann cars combined the best of both worlds; compartments opening to a side corridor that also provided access to lavatories at each end. Like most carriages in America they were lit by kerosene. In 1881 Victoria had replaced oil lamps in a dozen carriages with kerosene after experimenting with gas lighting in 1879.  Kerosene burned brighter than oil, but was very inferior to gas. Goodchap had the NSW railways adopt gas lighting in their trains in 1879, but Victoria procrastinated due to the daunting cost of converting the whole carriage fleet. So complaints about dull lighting continued.
Speight was also on the lookout for a means of transporting perishable goods, as the movement of meat, fish and dairy products by rail was hampered by the absence of refrigerated trucks. There was also no ice making plant in Victoria at the time, but he found the Americans making extensive use of refrigerator cars and manufactured ice. He ordered some sample refrigerator cars for trial and brought home plans for ice making works. 
Carriage corridors, lavatories and inter-car connection would soon begin to revolutionise travel in Victoria, and refrigerated trucks would open up a whole new class of business for the railways and be a boon for farmers, but isolated from the railways in America by an 8,000 mile ocean crossing taking nearly four weeks, the colonists could not grasp significance of the coming changes, not the least being affordable meat and butter on Melbourne’s tables during the hot summer months. Journalists may have been blind to the transformation of the railways taking place under their noses, but railwaymen were well aware, and gave Speight a great welcome on his return. Hundreds gathered at the flag bedecked stations of Benalla, Seymour and Spencer Street as he made his way home on 29th June in the ‘Victoria’ car, which had been specially attached to the Sydney Express at Albury. He had been farewelled from Sydney by the NSW Governor, several Members of Parliament and senior railway managers. 
At a gathering of the Victorian Railways Musical Society two weeks after his return, he said the Commissioners ‘had to make the blessed things pay’, but there was ‘no other place in the world where so large a concern proportionately was subject to continuous political influence’. He joked that sometimes it felt ‘as though a swarm of mosquitoes were buzzing round his bald head.’  Although he later correctly maintained that it was never in his brief to make the railways pay it nevertheless seems to have been an implicit assumption. And he had indeed made them pay, delivering a £34,060 profit for the 1888-89 financial year after payment of accident compensation and interest, and despite an estimated £200,000 of revenue forgone in fare and rate reductions.
Classifying Locomotives and Rolling Stock
A classification of the locomotive fleet commenced in 1886 while Mirls was in charge, but it was probably the initiative of Speight and Allison Smith. Hitherto there was no means of identifying the many various designs, each new engine being given the next consecutive number in the fleet list. The only aid to identification was the allocation of even numbers to passenger locomotives, and odd numbers to goods engines.  Staff had to differentiate the various types, their power and weight by familiarity with the engine number and the builder. Enginemen coped by giving the various types nicknames. But by September 1885 there were 305 locomotives of over twenty types.
On the other hand rolling stock had long been coded, probably to assist the ordering of trucks by telegraph, where a single letter was shorter and more succinct than describing the type of truck wanted.  Passenger stock was similarly coded. 
Allison Smith and Modern Rolling Stock
While Speight was overseas Allison Smith had been keen to hone the design and car building skills of the Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Branch. Constrained by the ruling that Newport could only make prototypes of new designs, and aware of the success of the Mann Boudoir cars on the Adelaide Express, he had Victor Siepen develop plans for two local versions of those sleeping cars. They were under construction when Speight returned in mid-1889, the first being trialled on 7th December that year. Similar in concept to the Mann cars, they were six feet longer, their mix of two and four berth compartments all richly decorated with lincrusta and hand-painted panels. They rode on six-wheeled bogies and were named ‘Perseverance’ and ‘Enterprise’; a novel feature of great interest being their electric lights. Speight had ordered two sets of electrical equipment while in Great Britain for trialling in these cars. Batteries were carried under the floor, but they required eight hours charging after every run. This proved to be a headache for the Traffic Branch, which had to devise a timetable for the Portland line which provided for battery servicing and still meet passenger needs. After initial trials it was thought prudent to supplement the electric lights with kerosene lamps!  They were the finest carriages yet to appear in the Australasian colonies, but Speight was right when he told the newspapers that electric lighting was still experimental. The difficulties with lighting the two sleeping cars delayed introduction until June 1890.  Even then they were not well patronised, partly due to a rather clumsy timetable, and for some time the service was restricted to one car operating between Ballarat and Portland. At the time the Adelaide Express seldom filled more than one sleeping car, so the provision of a sleeper between Melbourne and provincial Portland was optimistic. By year’s end the cars were running through to Melbourne again, but with their four large compartments used only for first class sit-up passengers. 
Before the sleepers were complete Victor Siepen was working on the next project: a train of three saloon cars of similar length to the Portland sleepers, and guards vans at each end, the whole train having inter-carriage connections allowing passengers and guards to walk through from end to end, just as Speight had witnessed in America.  The prototype composite guards van was completed in March 1891,  but building of the saloon cars was put on hold as Newport had a more pressing task.
Two months after Speight’s return a refrigerator car arrived from Chicago, but to avoid offending the protectionists the imported car was only a large scale model, from which Allison Smith and his draftsmen could develop a locally built prototype.  This became a priority as the Commissioners were besieged by farming and commercial interests for action. A large deputation had met with them in 1888 and been promised refrigerator trucks. An experimental shipment of nearly 400 tons of butter to England in late 1889 had proved successful,  and butter production in Victoria almost doubled over the following two years. But it was often impossible to get butter to the Melbourne market in summer: the so-called refrigerated trucks on the railways were said to be just ordinary trucks painted white. In fact they were insulated but had no means of cooling.  A meat processing company in suburban Abbotsford was unable to receive carcasses from upcountry suppliers in Terang and Warrnambool during summer, despite its factory having rail connections. For the want of refrigerated trucks and ice, its facility stood unused during the hot weather.  Meat and dairy scarcity in summer led to another ‘monster deputation’ which met the Commissioners in May 1890. They were encouraged to learn that ‘work had been going on quietly’ to have 30 refrigerated trucks ready for the next summer.  Why quietly? Because the trucks were being built at Newport in contravention of Gillies’ undertaking that the National Workshops would only be used for repairs and the building of prototype vehicles! But such was the clamour to get a fleet of refrigerated trucks ready that it had been decided not to risk putting the work out to tender. By the time it became public knowledge, the work was nearing completion. It was the biggest rolling stock construction project yet attempted by Newport, which had also quietly been equipped with an ice making plant. 
Allison Smith was gearing his new workshops for much bigger projects and in early 1890 proudly showed them off to 50 delegates of the Science Congress.  Work on the refrigerator trucks was only then in its early stages, but in August the production line would have been starkly obvious to the fifty members of the Institute of Engineers shown over the completed workshops, by then employing some 1,400 men. Professor Kernot, President of the Institute, was most impressed and highly complementary of Allison Smith.  It was the high point in Smith’s career, as the day before he had conducted the Chief Commissioner on a visit to the finished North Melbourne locomotive depot. 
The substantial new engine sheds at Ballarat, Sandhurst, Seymour and Warragul were also completed that year.  Allison Smith was quick to deflect attention from Newport’s trespass into rolling stock construction. He spoke to a luncheon at the Wright and Edwards factory in Braybrook to mark the acceptance of the first of one hundred 1st class bogie carriages for which they had been contracted at £1,160 each.  To the cheers of a hundred guests, he noted that in the previous three years some 3,000 wagons had been contracted to private builders, together with 370 of his bogie passenger carriages. Most of this had occurred while he was effectively in charge of the Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Branch. Gillies excused Newport by pleading the urgent need for refrigerator trucks but assured the Legislative Assembly it was not intended to pursue rolling stock manufacture there.  Inauguration of refrigerated transport was delayed until December as the supporting infrastructure of ice works and cool storage rooms was yet to be made ready and staff trained.
Dealing with Politicians
Speight and the assistant Commissioners brought undoubted professional management to the Victorian Railways. In matters of engineering, safeworking, operations, the fixing of rates and fares, hiring and firing and discipline, they functioned remarkably free of the political meddling, cronyism and outright corruption that had characterised the Railway Department when controlled by men like Bent and Woods.
But when it came to the provision of infrastructure, politicians as representatives of their electorates, had a right to bring requests for improved facilities to the Commissioners. Various Members of Parliament accompanied the Commissioners on tour and were invited to discuss business.  This was appropriate, so long as their requests were subject to proper investigation by railway officers and approved on their merits. Speight was well known for humouring deputations and giving non-committal answers to their proposals, referring them to his officers. Walter Reynolds, the Commissioner’s shorthand writer, said that there were visits by politicians to the Railway Offices ‘four or five times every day’. He felt that these visits were more frequent after Mr. Speight took up office. In 1886 alone, there were 103 railway matters raised by politicians attempting to ‘extract every ounce of answerability from the Commissioners’.  However Speight was a master at cordially seeing off these deputations, and also at settling grievances by staff. 
Speight’s refusal to kowtow to delegations fed discontent which later found expression in criticism by The Age that he was an autocrat.  The opposite was true, as Speight was not a micro manager. He later said ‘I never interfered with the plan of an engineer. I always assumed that they took the best route at their disposal.’ He likewise looked to his officers to manage their areas responsibly. Journalists assumed the other two Commissioners were mere puppets as they seldom spoke in the presence of deputations, but as Speight explained, the ‘new material that came before us day by day was of immense volume, and it was impossible for any one man to deal with it single handed.’ The three men read through batches and put their conclusions on the papers. If any of them had queries, the matter was put aside for discussion.  Commissioners Greene and Ford were quite capable of managing affairs for six months while Speight was overseas. 
But with thousands of entreaties from politicians and others over his eight years in office, Speight would have been hardly human not to have occasionally buckled to pressure to build or improve stations that departmental officers would not recommend, or grant extra train services or relax the rules for hiring staff. For example, he approved a station at Germantown (later renamed Grovedale), just 1½ miles from Connewarre, which itself had little traffic. Mr. Francis, the General Traffic Manager, reported that he was ‘strongly opposed’ to the station, as ‘traffic would be infinitesimal, and the site unsuitable on account of the heavy grade’. Nevertheless, the station was approved by the Commissioners on one of their inspection tours on which the local member, Mr. J.F. Levien MLA, was present. Levien later wrote that he was being ‘punched up’ about delays in building the platform.  There can be little doubt that similar additions were made to existing facilities as a result of this kind of pressure, but as it turned out, Germantown generated about the same revenue as Connewarre, and numbers of small stations on the network. 
Perhaps Speight’s most generous favour was to the Premier and Minister of Transport, by agreeing to the erection of a palatial station at Maryborough, the centre of Duncan Gillies electorate. But put in perspective, during Speight’s term nine grandiose Town Halls were built in Melbourne’s suburbs.  He granted a favour to Mr. Zox MLA, by having a job applicant who had failed a medical reexamined. The man was then put on the list, but nevertheless had to wait until a position came vacant. In 1888 Bent requested more trains on the Brighton line, but Speight told him ‘so far as we can see the accommodation is really in excess of the traffic’ but when pressed he famously declared, ‘As to the merits, you know you are not in it, but on the question of interest you say it must be done, and of course it must be done.’ 
- The Argus, Thursday 12 May 1887, p.6.↑
- The Argus, Monday 13 June 1887, p.6.↑
- The Argus, Saturday 4 June 1887, p.5.↑
- The Argus, Tuesday 29 June 1880, p.5., Saturday 6 November 1880, p.8.↑
- Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1888, p.xi.↑
- Melbourne Punch, Thursday 10 January 1889, p.1., Thursday 26 December 1889, p.1 are examples.
The Age, Wednesday 10 December 1890, p.7 where Shiels refers to incivility.↑
- Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1887, p.xv.↑
- The Argus, Saturday 8 November 1884, p.8.↑
- Victorian Railways: Report of the Board of Land and Works for the Year Ended 31 December 1883. p.15. Train miles 5,701,513., and Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1886, p. xiii. Train miles 6,849,818. An increase of 1,148,305.↑
- Clement E. Stretton. The History of the Midland Railway. (London, 1901). p. 201-207. Unsurprisingly, a copy of this book was in the Victorian Railways library, and is now in the library of the ARHS Victorian Division.
Hamilton Ellis. The Midland Railway. (London, 1953). p. 70-75.↑
- The Argus, Monday 18 October 1886, p.6.
The Leader, Saturday 23 October 1886, p.16.↑
- John D. Keating, Mind the Curve! A History of the Cable Trams, (Melbourne University Press, 1970), p.38, xv.↑
- The Age, Wednesday 26 January 1887, p.5. Regarding Greene’s beginning with the railways, the article notes ‘Mr. Greene first joined the Victorian railway service under Mr. Darbyshire, the then engineer in chief, in July, 1855’. This may mean he joined the MMA&MRR, as he was not appointed to the Victorian Railways until 7th May 1856 (The Age, Wednesday 7 May 1856, p.2).↑
- The Bendigo Advertiser, Wednesday 19 January 1887, p.3.
The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil, Thursday 24 February 1887, p.17.
The Age, Monday 8 December 1902, p.6.↑
- The Age, Tuesday 25 April 1882, p.1.↑
- The Ballarat Star, Wednesday 1 December 1886, p.2.
The Australasian, Saturday 28 December 1889, p.27.↑
- The Argus, Thursday 21 February 1884, p.10.
The Age, Thursday 4 February 1886, p.5.↑
- Mirls Memorial Engraving Gwendoline was born in 1874.↑
- The Herald, Monday 14 February 1887, p.4.
The Argus, Monday 14 February 1887, p.7 A more realistic estimate than the Herald.↑
- Table Talk, Friday 18 February 1887, p.1.↑
- The Age, Monday 31 January 1887, p.4.↑
- The Argus, Thursday 6 January 1887, p.5.↑
- The Age, Wednesday 8 December 1886, p.4.↑
- The Age, Saturday 25 February 1882, p.5↑
- The Age, Monday 29 September 1884, p.3.↑
- The Argus, Monday 21 April 1884, p.7.↑
- The Weekly Times, Saturday 31 December 1887, p.12.
The Argus, Friday 30 December 1887, p.6.↑
- The Argus, Wednesday 19 July 1882, p.10.↑
- The Leader, Saturday 19 January 1878, p.21.
Leo J. Harrigan. Op.Cit. p.276.↑
- The Argus, Saturday 12 May 1883, p.8-9.↑
- The Herald, Friday 11 May 1883, p.3., Saturday 12 May 1883, p.3.
The Argus, Saturday 19 May 1883, p.9.
The Independent (Footscray), Saturday 31 December 1887, p.2.↑
- The Argus, Friday 30 December 1887, p.6.↑
- The Age, Thursday 23 December 1886, p.4.↑
- The Age, Wednesday 10 December 1890, p.7.↑
- The Argus, Tuesday 14 June 1887, p.9.↑
- The Argus, Thursday 4 August 1887, p.4.↑
- Leo J. Harrigan. Op. Cit., p.177-78.
The Argus, Thursday 12 May 1887, p.6., Tuesday 14 June 1887, p.9., Thursday 4 August 1887, p.4.
The Herald, Tuesday 20 September 1887, p.4.↑
- The Bendigo Advertiser, Saturday 12 November 1887, p.6.↑
- The Argus, Friday 30 December 1887, p.5.↑
- The Argus, Saturday 31 December 1887, p.8.↑
- The Argus, Thursday 4 August 1887, p.4.↑
- The Age, Friday 18 February 1887, p.5.↑
- The Age, Friday 18 February 1887, p.5.↑
- Mirls’ family – Gwendoline was the oldest, followed by Rosina (Argus, 8 Oct. 1875, p.1), Beatrice (The Argus, 5 Feb. 1878, p.1. but died at five months (The Age, 29 Jun. 1878, p.4), Hyam (The Australasian, Oct. 1879, p.27), Gladys (The Argus, 6 Nov. 1882, p.1), Ida (The Argus, 21 Aug.1884, p.1) but died at 10 months (The Argus, 1 Jul. 1885, p.1), Vera (Kate) (The Argus, 3 Oct. 1885, p.1).↑
- Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1886, p. xv. The first exam was held on 3 June 1884.↑
- The Age, Saturday 30 July 1887, p.15.↑
- The Age, Tuesday 12 July 1887, p.5.
The Argus, Friday 15 July 1887, p.4.↑
- The Herald, Friday 15 July 1887, p.3.↑
- The Age, Tuesday 12 July 1887, p.5., Saturday 30 July 1887, p.15.↑
- Table Talk, Friday 11 November 1887, p.8.↑
- Pronoun usage: Miss↑
- The Bendigo Advertiser, Saturday 12 November 1887, p.6.↑
- The Age, Monday 9 April 1888, p.5.↑
- Victorian Parliamentary Papers (V.P.P.), “Board of Inquiry on Lancefield Railway Accident.” 26th September 1888. p.1, 16.↑
- The Age, Thursday 15 March 1888, p.5.↑
- The Independent (Footscray), Saturday 4 January 1890, p.3.↑
- The Age, Saturday 30 July 1887, p.15.↑
- The Argus, Thursday 4 August 1887, p.5.↑
- The Argus, Thursday 4 August 1887, p.4.↑
- The Age, Friday 7 June 1895, p.6. Evidence by Samuel Peel, who had been Foreman of the Carriage Shop at Newport. Peel was speaking from memory. Mirls did recommend selling some of the worst trucks taken over from the M&HBUR. See:-The Argus, Friday 14 April 1882, p.9.↑
- Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1885, Appendix 16, p.37.↑
- Norm Bray, Peter J. Vincent & Daryl M. Gregory. Fixed Wheel Freight Wagons of Victoria K to Z. Op. Cit., p.210.↑
- Over 2,800 were built by the Victorian Railways up to 1976.↑
- The Williamstown Chronicle, Saturday 5 December 1891, p.2.↑
- Norm Bray, Peter J. Vincent & Daryl M. Gregory. Fixed Wheel Freight Wagons of Victoria K to Z. Op. Cit., p.83. (50 sheep trucks by J. Horsington, Footscray, 1890-1891, and 50 by G. White & Co., 1891)., p.103 (50 cattle by G. Munro, 1890 and 50 by Quayle and Williams, 1891).↑
- The Age, Wednesday 10 December 1890, p.7. Mr. Carter, the Member for Williamstown.↑
- Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1889, Appendix 21, p.54. 14 June 1889 Wright & Edwards 200 double bogie medium open goods wagons. £49,175 (£246 each).
The Age, Friday 7 June 1895, p.6.↑
- Norm Bray, Peter J. Vincent & Daryl M. Gregory. Fixed Wheel Freight Wagons of Victoria A to J. (Sunbury, 2009), p.169.↑
- American Saloon cars were introduced as follows:The Age, Friday 2 April 1875, p.2. Two imported from Gilbert & Bush USA.The Ballarat Star, Thursday 19 April 1877, p.4. A pattern car made. This was to Mirls’ prize winning design.Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1878, Appendix 2, p.24. Two built at Williamstown Workshops.Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1879, Appendix 5, p.24. Six built by P. Bevan.Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1879, Appendix 5, p.25. Ten built by Wright & Edwards.↑
- The Ballarat Courier, Tuesday 29 May 1877, p.2.↑
- The Age, Tuesday 28 February 1893, p.7.
Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1888, Appendix 21, p.30. The contract had been awarded G.F. Pickles & Son on 22 September 1882 for 20 1st class, 40 2nd class and 16 1st/2nd class composite fixed wheel carriages. Only the 2nd class and five of the composite cars were delivered before the contact was terminated – shown as ‘Completed’ with £14,886 unexpended.↑
- The Ballarat Courier, Tuesday 29 May 1877, p.2.↑
- The Herald, Monday 4 July 1887, p.3.↑
- The Age, Friday 7 June 1895, p.6.↑
- Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1890, Appendix 21, p.50. Compare with:-Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1889, Appendix 21, p.44. Contract let 26 October 1888 with P. Ellis for 50 1st class double bogie carriages. £61,500 (£1,230 each).↑
- Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1888, Appendix 21, p.36, 35.20 January 1887 G.F. Pickles & Son. 30 double bogie 1st class carriages £39,050 (£1,300 each)9 September 1887 P. Bevan & Son 30 double bogie 1st class carriages £41,600 (£1,385 each).Repeat order for another 30 to Bevan 14 October 1887 £40,100 (£1,335 each).29 July 1887. G.F. Pickles & Son. 12 double bogie brake vans £6,637 (£553 each).↑
- Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1889, Appendix 21, p.44. 26 October 1888 P. Ellis. 50 1st class double bogie carriages. £61,500 (£1,230 each).↑
- Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1890, Appendix 21, p.50, 53, 61.9 August 1889, Wright & Edwards. 50 double bogie combined 1st class and brake van. £55,481 (£1,110 each).1 November 1889, Jones & Davison. 30 double bogie brake vans. £14,550. (£485 each).7 February 1890, P. Ellis. 50 double bogie 1st class £57,100 (£1,142 each).21 March 1890, Wright & Edwards. 50 double bogie 1st class £60,381 (£1,208 each20 June 1890, Australian Rolling Stock Co. 30 double bogie brake vans £18,120 (£604 each).Codes for fixed wheel passenger vehicles were A=1st class, B=2nd class, D = brake van. Bogie rolling stock was designated by doubling the code, viz Aa for a 1st class bogie. It could get unwieldy. A bogie composite with 1st, 2nd and guards compartments was coded ABDabd.↑
- The Argus, Wednesday 23 February 1887, p.5., Tuesday 15 March 1887, p.7., Thursday 17 March 1887, p.5.
Norm Bray, Peter J. Vincent & Daryl M. Gregory. Bogie Wooden Coaching Stock of Victoria. (Sunbury, 2009), p.30.↑
- The Argus, Tuesday 29 June 1880, p.5.The Argus, Tuesday 29 June 1880, p.5.↑
- The Age, Friday 16 March 1888, p.9.↑
- The Age, Friday 7 June 1895, p.6.↑
- The Herald, Monday 12 December 1887, p.2, Tuesday 13 December 1887.
The Ballarat Star, Wednesday 14 December 1887, p.2.
The Australasian, Saturday 17 May 1884, p.19.
Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1885, p. xiii, Appendix 3, p.25., 30 June 1886, Appendix 16, p.16.↑
- The Age, Wednesday 8 December 1886, p.4.
Table Talk, Friday 8 April 1892, p.1.↑
- The Age, Tuesday 23 October 1888, p.1.↑
- Table Talk, Friday 20 January 1888, p.2.↑
- The Weekly Times, Saturday 1 December 1888, p.10.↑
- Table Talk, Friday 2 October 1891, p.4.↑
- Their engagement was announced in ‘Table Talk’ but did not appear in any Family Notices.↑
- Melbourne Punch, Thursday 14 February 1889, p.13. Sarah is incorrectly named as Sallie.↑
- J.H. Forsyth ‘Goodchap, Charles Augustus (18371896)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972.↑
- Robert Lee, Colonial Engineer Op. Cit., p.286-7.↑
- Table Talk, Friday 8 March 1889, p.2.
The Herald, Saturday 28 December 1889, p.1.
Mount Alexander Mail, Wednesday 1 January 1890, p.3.↑
- Table Talk, Friday 3 January 1890, p.3.↑
- The Geelong Advertiser, Monday 30 December 1889, p.3.
The Age, Monday 30 December 1889, p.4.
The Australasian, Saturday 4 January 1890, p.29.↑
- Table Talk, Friday 10 January 1890, p.1.↑
- See Appendix XX↑
- Margot Beever, Gillies, Duncan (1834–1903), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972.↑
- The Age, Saturday 13 April 1889, p.9.
The Age, Wednesday 10 December 1890, p.7.↑
- The Age, Saturday 13 April 1889, p.9.↑
- The Argus, Monday 24 June 1889, p.6.↑
- The Argus, Friday 28 June 1889, p.6.
The Australian Star (Sydney), Friday 28 June 1889, p.4.↑
- The Age, Saturday 16 February 1889, p.10.
C.E. Sayers, David Syme: a Life, (Melbourne, 1965), p.159. The Exhibition’s deficit was finally reported as £237,784.↑
- The Herald, Friday 1 March 1889, p.2.↑
- The Argus, Friday 1 February 1889, p.9.
The Age, Friday 1 February 1889, p.5.↑
- John D. Keating, Mind the Curve! A History of the Cable Trams, Op. Cit., p. xv., 137. The 46 miles of double track on 17 routes were opened from 1885 to 1891.↑
- Michael Cannon. The Land Boomers. Op. Cit., p.216.↑
- Michael Cannon. The Land Boomers. Op. Cit., p.57-58.↑
- C.E. Sayers, David Syme: a Life, Op. Cit., p.156, 159-161.↑
- The Argus, Thursday 4 July 1889, p.5.↑
- Asa Briggs. Victorian Cities. (London, 1963). p.277-310 Melbourne is included in a study of great Victorian cities. The others are Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Middleborough and London.↑
- The Age, Saturday 29 June 1889, p.8.↑
- The Argus, Wednesday 5 December 1888, p.6.↑
- Melbourne Punch, Thursday 10 January 1889, p.1., Thursday 21 March 1889, p.1., Thursday 6 June 1889 p.1., Thursday 25 July 1889, p.1., Thursday 5 September 1889, p.5.↑
- The Age, Friday 11 October 1889, p.4.↑
- In the six months following the misquote appeared in The Age of 11 December 1889, and in 1890 on 25 & 29 January, 1, 4,6 and 8 March, 8 & 10 April. In The Leader 1 & 22 February, 8 & 29 March. In Illustrated Australian News 1 April.↑
- The Argus, Friday 28 June 1889, p.6.
The Argus, Thursday 4 July 1889, p.5.↑
- Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 31 December 1882, Appendix 24, p.50. A. Dempster was awarded a contract on 10 February 1881 to fit 12 carriages with gas.
The South Bourke and Mornington Journal (Richmond), Wednesday 18 June 1879, p.2, refers to initial experiments.↑
- The Argus, Friday 28 June 1889, p.6.↑
- The Argus, Monday 1 July 1889, p.6.↑
- The Argus, Wednesday 17 July 1889, p.5. The soiree was on 16 July.↑
- Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1887, Appendix 16, p.19-20.↑
- The Argus, Thursday 29 April 1875, p.7. (Refers to H trucks)
The Ballarat Star, Friday 19 May 1876, p.2. (Refers to M trucks)
The Argus, Friday 16 March 1877, p.7. (Refers to H, I and K trucks)
The Bendigo Advertiser, Thursday 14 August 1884, p.3. (Refers to L trucks)↑
- A photograph of carriage painters at Williamstown Workshops circa 1875 shows them standing in front of car 12A.↑
- The Herald, Friday 21 March 1890, p.2., Tuesday 25 March 1890, p.2.
The Argus, Monday 2 June 1890, p.4.↑
- The Argus, Monday 9 December 1889, p.9.
The Hamilton Spectator, Tuesday 10 December 1889, p.3.
The Argus, Monday 2 June 1890, p.4 & p.5.↑
- The Portland Guardian, Wednesday 17 September 1890, p.2., Wednesday 3 December 1890, p.3., Monday 22 December 1890, p.3.↑
- The Argus, Monday 2 June 1890, p.6.↑
- The Age, Wednesday 25 March 1891, p.5.
Norm Bray, Peter J. Vincent & Daryl M. Gregory. Bogie Wooden Coaching Stock of Victoria. Op. Cit., p.68-69. The photograph of 1ABC on p.69 shows minor differences to the diagram on p.68.↑
- The Herald, Thursday 5 September 1889, p.3.↑
- The Weekly Times, Saturday 18 January 1890, p.17.↑
- The Bendigo Advertiser, Wednesday 25 September 1889, p.2.
The Bairnsdale Advertiser and Tambo and Omeo Chronicle, Tuesday 11 March 1890, p.4.
Norm Bray, Peter J. Vincent & Daryl M. Gregory. Fixed Wheel Freight Wagons of Victoria K to Z. (Sunbury, 2009), p.188. Nineteen insulated vans were built at Williamstown Workshops between 1881 and 1886. They had four inches of charcoal insulation.↑
- The Argus, Saturday 8 February 1890, p.10.↑
- The Herald, Wednesday 7 May 1890, p.1.
Norm Bray, Peter J. Vincent & Daryl M. Gregory. Fixed Wheel Freight Wagons of Victoria K to Z. Op. Cit., p.189-90. The Historical Note on p.9 explains that railway records were not always accurate. The first 72 trucks are shown as built at Newport 1894/95, which should be 1891/95.↑
- The Herald, Thursday 5 September 1889, p.3.
The Great Southern Advocate (Korumburra), Friday 31 October 1890, p.3.↑
- The Bendigo Advertiser, Thursday 9 January 1890, p.2.↑
- The Argus, Thursday 7 August 1890, p.7.
The Great Southern Advocate (Korumburra), Friday 31 October 1890, p.3. Reporting completion of the first three refrigerated trucks.↑
- The Mount Alexander Mail, Friday 25 July 1890, p.3. Acknowledges it was Allison Smith’s design.
The Argus, Wednesday 6 August 1890, p.5. Described by visiting English railway authorities as equal to anything of the kind in the world.↑
- Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1890, Appendix 3. p.4.↑
- Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1890, Appendix 21.p.50, 53. Contact 1961, 50 cars, 9 August 1989, contracts 2984 and 2985, each 25 cars, 21 March 1890. Average price £1,160 per car.↑
- The Ballarat Star, Tuesday 3 September 1889, p.4.↑
- The Herald, Friday 5 December 1890, p.2.↑
- The Age, Thursday 22 June 1893, p5-6.↑
- R.L. Wettenhall, Op. Cit., p.35-36. Wettenhall tabulates these matters on page 35.↑
- The Advocate, Saturday 1 March 1890, p.14.
Table Talk, Friday 2 October 1891, p.4.↑
- The Age, Tuesday 30 December 1890, p.4.↑
- The Age, Friday 24 November 1893, p.5.
Table Talk, Friday 2 October 1891, p.4.↑
- Melbourne Punch, Thursday 10 January 1889, p.1.↑
- The Age, Saturday 24 June 1893, p13.↑
- Victorian Railways, Annual Report, 30 June 1896, Appendix 16. p.37. This Appendix, and the equivalent in other VR Annual Reports, shows numerous stations with minimal traffic.↑
- Melbourne Town Halls These were:-Camberwell, 1891.Collingwood 1885-90,Fitzroy 1887-90,Caulfield 1890,Hawthorn 1888-90,Northcote, 1887,Richmond 1890,St Kilda 1890,Malvern 1886-90.↑
- The Age, Wednesday 7 June 1893, p.5., Thursday 8 June 1893.↑