Stan Jones grew up in Redfern and his father worked at the Eveleigh railway workshops as a boiler maker. Stan’s grandfather also worked at Eveleigh as a moulder, and then Stan and his cousins went on to work at the Eveleigh workshops.
Stan remembers Redfern as a place where neighbours would help each other out, and he says that families grew closer through the 1917 strike.
He says that Eveleigh was always very busy workshop. Workers would start at 6am, have a break for a cooked breakfast, and then work until lunchtime. He remembers his father coming home at midday for a hot lunch. Workers from different workshops had different pubs that they would go to in the area, and Stan mentions which places where popular.
Asbestos was everywhere in the workshops, working conditions weren’t very good. It was dirty work, and Stan says that no one worried about safety back in those days. He describes how several men would share one bucket to wash in, and a token system to use toilets.
Stan’s mother was part of the anti-conscription campaign, and Stan remembers going to meetings with her.
SJ: Working conditions at Eveleigh weren’t very good. There was no washing facilities for the people who worked there and it was dirty work. They used to be issued with galvanised iron buckets or they’d make a bucket out of half a kerosene tin, put a small welding rod – you know what the welding rods are?
SJ: Well, they’d make one of those into a handle and shop boys used to go out, or the labourers used to go out and fill these buckets and bring them in with clean water and likely as not two or three men might even wash in one bucket. But they didn’t have wash basins and their toilet conditions were rather peculiar, anyone wanting to use the toilet they had to go and put the tokens they had — they had tokens that they used to use, take them off and on and put them on at lunch time and take them off after lunch and put them back on again when they knocked off — they’d have to take these tokens and they’d put them in at the window as you entered the row of toilets and the chap there would book you in according to your number that you were booked into the toilets, and then when you went out, he booked you, see. Now, if you happened to have a stomach upset or anything and you wanted to go to the toilet more than once in the morning and once in the afternoon, you would have to go and get special permission from the man in charge of your section and tell him that you were sick.
LT: Did that create any resentment amongst the working people?
SJ: Not really.
LT: They just accepted it?
SJ: Not until someone started to stir it up a bit about it, then you’ve got resentment. Must have been underlying, but never expressed, because nowadays of course, it’s different, they don’t have that kind of thing now. As I said before, the place was very dirty and steam engines are not clean in any case.