The original Bargo railway station, Big Hill Lower, later Balmoral

  OldSteamer Locomotive Fireman

Location: Brisbane

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  Spletsie Chief Commissioner

Thanks for sharing this fascinating story.
I remember reading about the Alt family in one of the Byways of Steam books.
  georges Train Controller

James Alt''s obituary, reproduced from the Yass Tribune-Courier, 1 September 1938:
  georges Train Controller

Some more on John Alt, courtesy of the National Library's Trove site (

1. Letter to the Bowral Free Press and Berrima District Intelligencer 9 October 1897

Mr. James Alt's Case.
DURING the week we received the following
letter from Mr. John Alt, station master at Gordon, near Sydney : -
Dear Sir, Will you kindly hand over the enclosed cheque for £5, to the Treasurer of the Berrima District Cottage Hospital as a donation towards the fund of same, and subscribed by the mother, three sisters, and brother of Mr. James Alt, who was an inmate of the hospital for some time, where he had both legs amputated? We were so pleased and satisfied with the careful and kind treatment my brother received in the Institution, that we could not pass it over without making a small doinaion.
Yours faithfully,

2. Sydney Morning Herald 18 July 1933 (reprinted the following day in the Wagga Daily Advertiser)

Presented to Mr. John Alt.
In recognition of his 47 years' service with the Railways Department, the Governor, Sir Philip Game, presented Mr. John Alf with the Faithful Service Medal last week.
This decoration is rarely awarded to members of the Railways Department, Mr. Alt being the fourth recipient. Mr. Alt retired from the department in September, 1930, when he was stationmaster at the Central Station.
Commencing as a Junior porter in 1882, Mr. Alt became stationmaster at manv country stations, including Cootamundra, Bathurst, and Albury. During his 16 years of service at Sydney, Mr. Alt was in charge of all transport trains to Liverpool and Menangle throughout the war. He was also responsible for traffic facilities during the strike of 1917.
Mr. Alt is a member of the Killara Bowling Club, and Is well known in Masonic circles.

3. Another Trove item from SMH 2 December 1935 reports that one of John Alt's daughters married one of the sons of JJC Bradfield (of Harbour Bridge and Sydney city railway fame). John did not lack upward social mobility.
  georges Train Controller

His brother John Alt, stationmaster at Albury, was also no slouch:

Yes. Trove reproduces that item from the Border Morning Mail and Riverina Times of 22 February 1912.

Trove also records the Cootamundra Herald's account (8 March 1905) of John's departure as stationmaster at Blayney.
Reproductions of old newspapers are sometimes difficult to read. The question marks below (?) denote illegible text that has been omitted.

Departure of Mr. Alt.

On Friday evening last (reports the 'West Macquarie', the Blayney paper) the staff connected with a local railway station assembled in the office to bid farewell to the stationmaster, (Mr. J. Alt). The whole of the men were in attendance, the chair being occupied by Mr. J Usher (relieving stationmaster).

The chairman said they were well aware of the object of the gathering. They gather to bid farewell to Mr. Alt (?) and wish him prosperity in his new sphere. Mr. Alt was a man who was never strict, but (?) who believed in the men under him doing their duty. By his unfailing kindness and courtesy he has earned the respect of every man on the staff. Speaking generally, he might say there were many outsiders who would sincerely regret the departure of Mr. Alt. Their guest was a man who was deservedly popular with the staff, and the department has (?) their confidence and knowledge of his worth by promoting him on the present occasion. He wished him and his family success at Cootamundra and called on Mr. Gilmore to make the presentation (Applause.)

Mr. Gilmore said they had met to present Mr. Alt with a small token of respect, and a souvenir of his stay in Blayney. The members had all subscribed to show the feeling they had towards their late stationmaster. He endorsed Mr. Usher's remarks, and trusted that Mr. Alt's stay in Cootamundra would be a pleasant one. He was sure he was voicing the opinions of the staff when he said that they regretted his departure, and hoped the health of himself and his family would be benefitted by the removal. He ask Mr. Alt to accept a gold medal from the staff not on account of its intrinsic value, but as a token of his respect and esteem in which he was held by every one of the men. (Applause').

Messrs. Conners, Paul, and Clayton also referred in eulogistic terms to the guest of the evening, and wished him prosperity in his new charge.

Mr. Alt, who on rising to speak was greeted with applause, said that in the railway service all men were equal, at least, so far as he was concerned, though it was always necessary to have someone in charge. They had worked together satisfactorily, during his stay of eighteen months with them, and he had not occasion once to report a single member of the staff. Mr. Paul said that he had been good to the shunters; well he was a shunter himself once, and experience teaches. He had done nothing to deserve the presentation, he had simply done his duty, and he could truthfully say that the Blayney staff was the best on any station in New South Wales. ' He could not pay the men a greater compliment than by saying that he had got more satisfaction from the Blayney staff than from any other in which he had been in charge. The whole had done their duty well, and he loved them as he did his own family. He came there as a stranger in a new and arduous position, and they had stuck to him as friends and fellow workers, and he had never received an insulting word from any of them. He hoped they would treat his successor as courteously as they had him, and from what he had seen of Mr. Hinds, he believed he was a good man. In conclusion he again thanked them for the present and kind remarks and assured them that he would never forget the Blayney railway staff. (Applause.)

The meeting closed with cheers for Mr. Alt, and the singing of 'For He's a Jolly Good Fellow.'

The staff assembled at the second division of the mail train the same evening, and as the train drew out from the platform, the men, with three ringing cheers and some detonators, gave Mr. Alt a typical railway send off.

The medal, which was a heavy, ornamental shield of pure Australian gold, of St. John design, with burnished circle in centre, was procured from the establishment of Mr. Josephson, and was engraved as follows : On the front "J. A. Monogram, and on the reverse side, Presented to Mr. J. A. Alt as a token of esteem, by the Blayney Railway staff, 24/2/05”

The past is another country.

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