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Bringing Back the Workers

At the height of its operating life, the Railway Workshops, now the Queen Victoria Museum employed close to 2,000 workers. Jobs and apprenticeships within the workshops covered a wide range of skills: from upholstery to chrome plating, welding and pattern making. The workshops serviced the State’s railway system for 125 years and became one of the largest industrial enterprises in Tasmania, renowned for the quality of its work.

Bringing back to life the stories of the Railway workers is something Queen Victoria Museum History Registrar, Louise James is passionate about.

“When you walk around the site the most obvious thing missing is the people. When I speak with workers who were employed here as part of the workshop, they often tell of a sense of belonging and most think back with very fond memories of their time spent here,” says Louise.

“We would like to bring back the ‘workers’ to the site. With this in mind we are starting a project whereby people who worked at the railways or families of those people can submit a photo and a few biographical details about their work here and we will produce a metal panel to be placed around the site.

“This way as visitors walk around the site they will encounter ‘the workers’.”

The first panel has been donated by the family of Nicola D’Ambrosio and is now in place.

“We have another six people in the wings but we are putting out a call hoping that members of the public will respond with photos and information we can copy. Help us bring back the faces to the workshops as a tribute to an important Tasmanian industry and the people who made it what it was,” says Louise.

For more information please contact Louise at louise.james@qvmag.tas.gov.au

Image: Workers in The Blacksmith Shop at the Railway Workshops, late 1920s

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