Spion Kop

 
  Radioman Train Controller

Hello All,

I have just read an old post re Spion Kop , like many readers I too have wondered where Spion Kop was . With reference to Mark Bau's VictorianRailways.net South Kensington page diagrams and photographs.

There is a photo of an Up Hitachi set approaching Moonee Ponds Creek Junction , and in the background is what I know as the Flyover which takes the BMS Sub lines from the Through Suburban Lines to Kensington. This Flyover is now officially named Spion Kop , which was for many years it's unofficial name.

Reference to Dia 11/23 South Kensington the Goods Lines Arrival and Departure , Dia 5/71 Essendon Suburban , Main Goods, West Tower , Dia 4/83 Main Goods, West Tower, Broadmeandows Suburban , all show this bridge / flyover but no reference to the unofficial name .

The original Spion Kop in South Africa when the two day battle took place and was a major military disaster for the British Army , took place during a very cold and unusual heavy snowfall. The Flyover / Spion Kop was high, flat and cold hence the nickname.

The disaster at Spion Kop , South Africa was reported by that famous reporter and later Prime Minister Winston Churchill who was captured by the Boers at Spion Kop and later escaped to file his report. As a result the disaster became a major scandal and remained in the public conciousness for many years after. A number of Football ( soccer ) stadiums in England have or had exposed hillsides known as either Spion Kop or the Kop, Liverpool probably the best known. Hope this is of interest,

Regards, radioman.

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  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
My understanding is that 'Spion Kop', back in the days, was the yard area that more recently became known as the 'Arrivals' and broadly covered the yard area from North Melbourne towards but not including South Kensington. The approximate area is now covered by a train wash and stabling sidings for Vline and Metro.

The name covered the yard area not a bridge/bridges.


Open to correction, however.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne Yard arrivals was not I thought ever classified as a yard.  Where was the boundary of Melbourne Yard?  

Was there a North Melbourne Yard?
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Melbourne Yard arrivals was not I thought ever classified as a yard.  Where was the boundary of Melbourne Yard?  

Was there a North Melbourne Yard?
bevans
Agree (I think) Spion Kop was the arrival roads for the Melbourne Yard.
There was Arden Street, the Wash Dock, the Ice Roads and Macauley around North Melbourne but I am not aware of a North Melbourne Yard as such.
Open to correction as always. It was all a long time ago.
No idea what the various areas are called these days (thankfully)!
  Radioman Train Controller

Hello All,

With reference to the above the Rail Geelong website ( http://www.railgeelong.com ) has photos referencing Spion Kop  Jcn which references the current place named which therefore implies that YM-Mundrabilla's comment that Spion Kop may actually be the Melbourne Yard Arrivals Yard is correct. Yard and train staff would logically be walking around the Arrivals Yard and far less likely to be walking around an overbridge or junction.

Regards, Radioman.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
I have some photos of a train examiners room at the western end of the junction so resources were working near the Lloyd Street area at one point.  How were departures managed out of Melbourne yard to the west?
  Radioman Train Controller

Hello All,

Further to the above, Melbourne Yard covered a vast area that was broken up into a number of smaller locations and I at least took it to cover from South Kensington through to the Flinders St end of Spencer Street Station, the other side of which was controlled by the Melbourne Harbour Trust, later Melbourne Port Authority.

It is also my understanding that the Melbourne Yard Yardmaster at West Tower was ultimately responsible for all train movements within this area.

Regards, Radioman.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Hello All,

Further to the above, Melbourne Yard covered a vast area that was broken up into a number of smaller locations and I at least took it to cover from South Kensington through to the Flinders St end of Spencer Street Station, the other side of which was controlled by the Melbourne Harbour Trust, later Melbourne Port Authority.

It is also my understanding that the Melbourne Yard Yardmaster at West Tower was ultimately responsible for all train movements within this area.

Regards, Radioman.
Radioman
The Melbourne Yard (MY) was divided into many areas including Spion Kop/MY Arrivals, East Yard, West Yard, Balloons A, B, C Electric Crane sidings, Melbourne Goods, Canal, Cowper Street, NM Workshops, NM Loco, Southside, Burma Roads etc.

Apart from Dock shunting this is the first that I have heard on the Harbour Trust had any jurisdiction except for perhaps the wharves of Victoria Dock itself.

As I have said, always open to correction.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
There existed Melbourne Yard East Tower for the balloon yards on the eastern side of the Yard.  It was a white building.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
There existed Melbourne Yard East Tower for the balloon yards on the eastern side of the Yard.  It was a white building.
bevans
I remember the East Tower but I don't remember it being white - not that it matters and not saying that you are not correct.
Was there small wagon repair/road/depot in its immediate area?
  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
The late Lloyd Holmes in his excellent book, "A Railway Life", remembers his early days as a Lad Labourer and Trainee Train Examiner in the Melbourne Yards.

"After a spell of some months on Arrivals, I was then rostered to the appropriately named Spion Kop cabin, situated out past North Melbourne station and high above the windswept Dudley Flats, In winter time some remarkably quick train and brake tests were performed at Spion Kop thanks to its location, and I well recall the little cabin above Dynon Road groaning and trembling with the force of the winds."

Back in the 1940's and early 50's, Dudley Flats was the name given to an area between Footscray Road and Dynon Road. It was closest to Footscray Road, and featured dumped rubbish which always seemed to have fires burning in it. The Fruit and Vegetable Market later appeared there.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
The late Lloyd Holmes in his excellent book, "A Railway Life", remembers his early days as a Lad Labourer and Trainee Train Examiner in the Melbourne Yards.

"After a spell of some months on Arrivals, I was then rostered to the appropriately named Spion Kop cabin, situated out past North Melbourne station and high above the windswept Dudley Flats, In winter time some remarkably quick train and brake tests were performed at Spion Kop thanks to its location, and I well recall the little cabin above Dynon Road groaning and trembling with the force of the winds."

Back in the 1940's and early 50's, Dudley Flats was the name given to an area between Footscray Road and Dynon Road. It was closest to Footscray Road, and featured dumped rubbish which always seemed to have fires burning in it. The Fruit and Vegetable Market later appeared there.
Thanks Valvegear.
I remember the cabin well up along the Dynon Road side of what I knew as Spion Kop.
This appears to be a case where a historic name has been attached to a modern location/structure, perhaps by some well meaning (or possibly ill-informed) bureaucrat.
To my mind if anywhere was to be called Spion Kop it should be the yard area to the west of the suburban line which is to the west of the stabling sidings between the Werribee and old Broadmeadows suburban lines. Apologies for the clumsy description of this area but I am not up with the 'new' names. They were 'suburban' and 'country' lines in my day IIRC.
  Radioman Train Controller

Hello All,

Ah Spion Kop has at last been located courtesy of Lloyd Holmes . I had a discussion with a current Metro employee and amateur historian who assured me that the Arrivals Yard was not known as Spion Kop and he also understood it to be the current Spion Kop Jcn . Some years ago an article appeared in one of the Victorian fan a magazines with a long discussion on Spion Kop , but as I have not seen the article I cannot comment. It is also my understanding that as Line Diagramms are updated ( by Metro ) some locations will receive a geographic place name as an identifier. On that basis the currently named Spion Kop Jcn does make sense and some other new namings could prove to be rather enlightening.

Dudley Flats as a name predates the 1940s. The rebuilding of Melbourne Yard to accomodate the Hump Yard probably explains why the name Spion Kop fell out of use as it effectively disappeared ! I was sent down to the Hump Yard to deliver a package to the Shunters Foreman and I remember being quite impressed with the pipe tunnel that took you under the running lines. It struck me at the time as being akin to entering another world, which in some ways it was.

In my earlier post the reference to the MHT / PMA was its location across Flinders Street Extension , effectively the VR Melbourne Yard boundary was Flinders Street Extension. The wagon repair shops were at North Melbourne. As the older fixed wheel rolling stock was withdrawn there was no longer a need for North Melbourne Wagon Shops.

At about the time of the Shops closure American bogie coal wagons were racking up 1 Milliom Miles in merry go round services in Illinois with only the brakes being adjusted and brake blocks being replaced. Due to better materials being available wagons just did not wear out like they used to. These bogie coal wagons were120 US tons capacity and therefore heavier than anything we ran in Victoria at that time. There was an article in the US Trade magazine Railway Age pointing this out and when I showed this article to the ARU elected officers they were quite surprised . Subsequent enquirers revealed that this in fact was the case in the US and it therefore made an argument for retaining North Melbourne Wagon Shops extremely difficult.

Best wishes and regards, Radioman.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Thanks Radioman.
I suspect now that we are talking of two entirely different eras.
The era that I speak of is donkeys years before Metro and the Hump as well so I am sticking with my memory (reliable/correct or not).
In summary, I guess that the answer to your original question relates to the era being discussed.
The area south of Flinders Street Extension was, I assume, North Wharf and was presumably worked in conjunction with the MHT on a similar basis to Victoria Dock although I have no real knowledge of the arrangements.
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
Great stuff @Radioman
  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
I'm sure Radioman is right when he says the name Dudley Flats predates the 1940's. My earliest memory of the name would probably be around 1946 - 1948. My parents always used the title and did say that it was not an official name but had been used for years.
And yes, our amateur historian's view that the Arrivals yard was not Spion Kop has indeed been confirmed by Lloyd. That was one topic we didn't cover when we talked, but I take his writings as accurate.
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
Anyone able to supply a map for the junction info?  Was the junction actually of the line to North Dynon Yard or further west as the junction to the goods line behind South Kensington?
  Radioman Train Controller

Hello All,

Spion Kop yet again, I had lunch with Brian Coleman ( retired Block and Signal Inspector ) today and mentioned this thread re Spion Kop and he advised me that Weighbridge Jcn Signal Box which was located at the North Melbourne end of what I knew as the Flyover was referred to as Spion Kop due to it's exposed location . The site of the Signal Box is still visible ! And this is the location now officially named Spion Kop Jcn.

Dudley Flats was also discussed and Brian's late father had been told that Dudley Flats use as a shanty town predates the Great Depression , as there was virtually no social housing in Australia pre WW2. So people who could not secure a rental property for whatever reason usually ended up at Dudley Flats. It was both the Chifley and Menzies Governments which put in place social housing programmes in conjunction with the States, hence Victoria's Housing Commission.

Though the Great Depression ( which in Australia' s case ran from 1929 to 1939 and at its height had a 35% unemployment rate and this only referred to males ) caused Dudley Flats to be greatly expanded due to people not having an income and been forced to " a midnight flit ". With the outbreak of War both the 7th Division AIF and the Militia units that went to New Guinea
( Militia , later CMF , could only serve in Australian Teritory , which PNG was at that time ) were almost entirely made up of unemployed men . Patsy Adam-Smith's books on both the railways and the Anzacs mentions this.

My late father , who was born in 1922 , told me that in the mid 1930s their family average rental was 6 weeks and this was not unusual. His family moved around Carlton , Fitzroy and Brunswick.

When WW2 broke out , the Commonwealth Government , unlike our Allies , with held about one half of a service person serving overseas pay back and this could be either directed to your family, or was kept aside until you returned . So when the War ended in 1945 there was pent up demand and a fair bit of money    around and this was one factor in the Australian economy doing well after the War. This was not the  experience elsewhere. West Germany's economy took off due to currency reform which both stilled the black economy and delivered an initial bonus payment to adult citizens.

Sorry for going off track a bit , I hope this is of some interest.

Thank you for your kind comments, best wishes and regards, Radioman.

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