John Shields was saddened to hear about the fiery destruction of the historic coal loader at Casino and he wrote a eulogy.
Here it is:
The Casino loco depot had a loader that was the last remaining fully intact timber coal stage in NSW.
It was the tallest structure in the town and stood as a district landmark for 76 years.
During my years working there it featured prominently in many of my pictures.
Before it was built, coaling of locos was done using a small steam-powered bucket crane, a coal grab.
The maintenance of the grab fell to one particular fitter and when it broke down after hours, he was called out at overtime rates to do the repairs.
As it happened, this occurred almost every night and at weekends and his pay-packet was enhanced as a result.
When the coal stage, a very substantial timber structure, was being built, local myth had it that he brought in white ants in matchboxes and ‘fed’ them to the timber in the hope of them taking over and restoring his income stream.
The timber was well-creosoted and the white ants turned their back on it and ate the adjacent roundhouse instead.
I can attest to the shed being termite infested. When I worked there, the only thing keeping it standing was the white ants holding hands.
Here are some of my coal stage pictures from 1968-70.