‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ is a saying that certainly applies to me. While some people may look upon a relative’s old cards, receipts or general correspondence as trash; I on the other hand see all these things as treasure. Their contents may not hold ground-breaking clues but I believe each piece is important and helps give a broader perspective into the lives of my ancestors. Through these posts categorised as ‘Trash or Treasure’ I aim to share the bits and pieces that I find which, in some way, formed a part my ancestors’ lives.
For as long as I remember Charles Victor Barratt’s model train had sat proudly in the lounge room of my Grandpa and Grandma’s house. Mounted on a piece of wood and painted to perfection, it certainly inspired awe and was not to be played with by little children such as me.
Vic’s Model Train
Apart from knowing the obvious (that my Great Grandfather built it) I’ve never actually known much about it. It was while looking through an old tin that I came across a treasure in the form of a letter from The Meadmore Model Engineering Co. written to Vic advising that the order he placed was on its way. I can only assume that the order was for the train.
It’s not hard to see why Vic was drawn to the idea of building his own model train. Throughout his whole life he was employed by the Western Australian Government Railways. Initially starting as a loco cleaner, he worked his way up and became an engine driver. It seems he was very fond of his job and the trains he drove. Along with this, he also enjoyed building things (a trait which was passed to his son). These two passions were brought together with the purchase of the model train.
He was 41 years old when he purchased the train in 1936 and four years later, its construction was coming along nicely.
Vic, his son Ron and the train in the 1940s
The train was eventually completed and remained with Vic until his death in 1973. His lathe and tools were left to his son, Ron. Ron, his wife Audrey and son Glen all made the trek up to Merredin so that he could take what he wanted from Vic’s shed. Along with Vic’s lathe and tools, Ron took the model train. Safely in his hands, it was placed in a prime location for all to see and admire. For over 30 years it remained a perfect tribute to his father and to the hard work that went into the train’s construction.
The Meadmore Model Engineering Co. produced many different scale models throughout the years. A digital copy of one of their catalogues can be found online via the National Archives of Australia (http://nla.gov.au/nla.aus-vn5213973).