Captivated by the steam locomotive from infancy, Gerald joined the Victorian Railways in 1951 as a lad labourer, beginning a life-long railway career which transitioned from the steam era into modernisation. Attaining middle management, Gerald was widely acclaimed for his unique management style of recognising the wellbeing of the men as a priority.
Within the thirteen chapters and appendix, Gerald’s rich railway life experience is presented as a steam locomotive fireman, North Melbourne Loco, progression to driver, enginemen’s instructor, middle management in the office of Locomotive Running and Fuel Conservation.
Written by John Fowler, who at one time fired with ‘Ger’, the book is presented in the style of first person narrative, interwoven with events of the time, allowing the reader to experience a vivid picture of Gerald’s love of the railway, his footplate experiences and a career path toward management. The latter is no easy road for Gerald and offers surprises as he becomes caught up in the twists and turns of a railway continually attempting to reorganise into a modern management style.
Of further interest to the modern day historian and modeller is the way in which Gerald became a major force in fostering the preservation of steam locomotives in Victoria, through his efforts in establishing the ARHS Vic. Division Railway Museum, conversion of Polly to Z526, and the saving of Heavy Harry and X36.
In summary, this is an entertaining account of a railway career path that cannot be repeated today.