• Loddon Herald

Warren's train stop

SUMMER HOLIDAY READING

By CHRIS EARL


VISITORS to Warren Taylor’s Wedderburn home know they are entering a railway fan’s property.

The first indication is the front gate facing the Calder Highway where rail crossing signs mark the driveway.

There’s also his latest pride and joy - a railway safety wagon built in 1897, consigned to the scrap yard in 1973, saved and restored by Warren and recently installed atop track and ballast.

Warren had seen the wagon advertised for sale at Newlyn where the family of one-time DLP senator John Maddigan was clearing the collection of the blacksmith after his death.

“I said to Lindy (wife), we are going for a drive ... we bought it back in April and got it back to Wedderburn and started cleaning up the wagon, giving it a paint job,” he said.

History saved from the wreckers now standing sentinel near those crossing signs.

Then Warren suggests a visit to his shed - like many man caves, adorned with signs, in this case with a train link of course - where he reveals his amazing miniature recreation of the Wedderburn railway station.

“Using photographs and getting information from locals who remember the buildings and everything that was there, it’s 85 to 95 per cent accurate,” Warren said about his miniature recreation of a once-bustling station precinct that saw its last passenger train in 1941, freight still running for another four decades before the line was closed in 1986.

By then, the original 35.5-metre platform had been reduced to just six metres.

The station precinct then became a storage area for more than 100 livestock wagons waiting to be cut up and sold as scrap. These days, little remains of the station that welcomed people travelling by train and rail motor on the branch line from Korong Vale, crossing the Calder Highway for the final kilometres of into town.

Warren said the book Country Branch Lines Victoria and a 1925 photograph of the main station building had been his saviour in planning the model of Wedderburn station.

The detail includes a four-tonne crane, the weighbridge, sheepyards behind the platform, grain silos and the saw mill operated by the Williamsons.

Warren’s love affair with trains began as a youngster riding and exploring the Port Melbourne line after his godfather had given him a model train.

“I think it was when I was about 10, we had a model train set-up and put penny bangers (fireworks) under the bridge as the locomotive went along,” he said.

He later worked as a shunter in the Melbourne yards and as a driver with Pacific National.

And the painstaking hours put into recreating Wedderburn station or restoring the 1897 safety wagon only continues Warren’s journey with trains.

He has previously made a model of the Whittlesea station and restored a 1952 Chevrolet truck.

Warren, however, still has one more addition to make at the entrance to his property.

A railway station sign is in progress. It will be emblazoned with WARLIN, a special thanks to wife Lindy for her support and encouragement.




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