This shed stood for 104 years in the railway yard at Port Lincoln. It had a rich history, having been erected here for the opening of the Port Lincoln Railway in 1907. It actually dated from perhaps 20 years earlier, when it was constructed at Kingston S.E. for the railway. Redundant there, it was dismantled and moved to Port Lincoln to serve as the carriage shed for the newly-constructed line to Cummins.
Passenger carriages were replaced by railcars on Eyre Peninsula in the 1930s, and from then on the shed was used for other purposes. For decades it was used for repainting rolling stock. The painters habitually placed their paint stirring sticks on a shelf above the mixing bench, and over the years the drips from these sticks built up on a particular beam in the wall. One of the Port Lincoln Railway Museum members knew of it, and had asked for the beam to be saved if and when the shed was demolished.
In the middle of last year the shed had deteriorated to the point where it was a safety hazard, and it was scheduled for demolition. Nature intervened however when a violent windstorm swept through town. The shed collapsed, unfortunately blocking the main railway line for a couple of days until the debris could be cleared. The demolition crew were exceptionally helpful, and recovered the ‘paint beam’ from the wreckage and handed it over to our Museum.
The beam has now had years of dust and grime removed and a couple of cross-sections cut through the buildup of paint to show the various layers of colours used over the years. After sealing with an appropriate varnish, it has been placed on display in the Museum. An interpretive panel describes the beam’s history, and identifies a number of colours uncovered and describes their use.
This lowly piece of hardwood now forms an unusual item in the Museum’s collection, a link not only with the paints used on the railway over the years but also with the early days of the railways in nineteenth-century South Australia.