Childhood memories

With Ralph Birrell

(In the Machines Lab)


Engineering differed from the other courses at the University in that all the students were expected to do Engineering Drawing, and were given their own desk in a drawing office. (We had commitments at the University virtually all day every day, apart from Wednesday afternoon which was set aside for sport, and were generally expected to spend something like two afternoons a week working in the drawing office.)

This meant that unlike the other students we had a base, and a centre for our social life, so we were much less likely to go home between lecturers, or to fraternise with students doing other courses.

We were periodically taken on technical excursions to various interesting locations round Melbourne, and I remember visiting the Wilson Transformer factory, a substation supplying part of the suburban Victorian Railways network, and also their maintenance depot in the Fliders Street Railway Yards (now the building occupied by ArtPlay in Birrarung Marr).

We also visited the PMG's (Post master General's Department) new City West telephone exchange in Lonsdale Street. I was very interested to learn that one floor half way up the building was reserved for ASIO (or their predecessors) and all lines went through this floor. No-one else was allowed to enter it, so the spies could listen to whatever they liked. However recorders had only just been invented, so it is doubtful if they had any rcording facilities.

We were also expected to get work experience during the long summer vacation, and suitable jobs were arranged for us by the University.

 © Roger Riordan 2004-2019

Melbourne University