Interview with Bridgie Kelly.
Q. What was your job at Woodlawn Station?
A. I was the gate keeper. I worked in the signal cabin. This involved operating the signal system and opening and closing the gates for the trains to come and go from the station. It’s all very different now as it is automated from a centralised system so they don’t need a person there anymore.
Q. How long did you work there?
A. I worked there for 12 years.
Q. Did you have to work both day and night?
A. Yes I had to do shift work.
Q. The signal cabin is up very high. Was it difficult to get down the long steps to open and close the gates?
A. The stairs were very high! I always knew when the trains were coming so I would always get there on time.
Q. Was it nice watching the trains pass by?
A. Yes, it was lovely, especially the “run through trains” which were trains that didn’t stop at the station.
Q. Was it hard working at the station?
A. No I loved my time there – it was a really lovely place to work.
Q. Was it difficult to open and close the gates?
A. It was! Especially on a windy day – railway gates are heavy!
Q. How many times a day did trains pass?
A. 10 – 15 times a day.
Q. How did you know when a train was approaching?
A. The station on either side would call on a special phone to let me know when the train had left that station. It would take the train a certain amount of minutes to reach Woodlawn. Then I would open the gates and pull the signal to let the driver know it was safe to enter the station. I would then phone the station it was travelling to once the train had left Woodlawn to let them know the train would be approaching their station next.
Q. Was it scary to work all night alone?
A. Maybe a little in the beginning but I got used to it very quickly.
Q. Did anyone ever try to rob the station when you were there at night?
A. Fortunately no. It was never an issue as there really was nothing there for anyone to take.
Q. Did a train ever come into the station unexpectedly?
A. No. The gates would have to be open before I could pull the signal which was one a half miles down the line. So trains come never come into the station without warning.
Q. Did you ever fall asleep on the job?
A. No, never!
Q. Did you make any new friends during your time at the station?
A. Yes I did. I made lots of friends with other people who worked in the other signal cabins along the line and the maintenance people who worked on the line daily.