THE FOUR STATION MASTERS AT DARLINGTON 1919-1939

BURGOYNE George Richard William (1.12.1919 – May 1921)

George was born in 1891 in Victoria to parents George Richard Burgoyne and Jane Kiddell who married in 1880 in Victoria. The family came to WA where his father George worked for the Western Australian Government Railways (WAGR), firstly as a carpenter in 1896 at Albany then as a foreman at Wagin, Beverley and finally Katanning where he retired in 1918.

Burgoyne family [L] George and Laura's wedding in 1916, [R] with children Norman, Laura and Evelyn.

In August 1910, son George also joined the West Australian Government Railways (WAGR) and started as a Junior Porter at Brookton then in early 1912 he was promoted to Porter and later that year moved to Mt Barker. He worked his way up to Assistant Station Master at Broome Hill, Goomalling and Beverley until he got his first Station Manager position in 1915 at Jarnadup (Jardee) near Manjimup from June 1915 to November 1917. It was while George was here that he married Laura Maud Maria Brandon in 1916 before they were moved at the end of 1917 to Southern Cross where he was Assistant Station Master. They had their first child Alexander in 1918 at Northam and then were moved to Merredin, still as an Assistant before his second placement as Station Master to Darlington: He was Darlington’s first appointed Station Master. His appointment coincided with the birth of his second child, a daughter Evelyn, on the 1st December 1919. George’s father was widowed and lived with the family at Darlington until they left in May 1921.This was before the Station Master’s house was completed later that year so they didn’t have the opportunity to live there. The family moved to Dumbleyung, where a third child, Norman William, was born in 1922, the family remained there until July 1925. They next went to Northam where that same year they had their last child, a daughter named Laura Elaine Chifley.

In late 1929 the family were on the move again this time to Wokalup. In 1935 they returned to Northam for two more years before a last posting to the country in October 1937 at Mundijong. George’s final time with the Railway was at the Perth Office C3 where he appeared to have worked up until he died in September 1960 aged 69. George played the trumpet in the Beverley Brass Band and was a capable carpenter, these skills he would have picked up from his father whose trade was in carpentry. In later years he would make a lot of his own furniture such as tables, bookcases, chest of drawers and the like. His daughter Evelyn still has the bag her father used to take to work each day. Being handy, he had made this himself. His wife Laura was looked after by their daughter Evelyn, who never married and Laura died in August 1984 aged 91. George and Laura were buried in the Anglican Section at Karrakatta Cemetery.

Daughter Evelyn with her father’s home made tin work box 2013

George and Laura Burgoyne’s graves at Karrakatta Cemetery

GIRLING Thomas Henry (May 1921-December 1928)

Thomas Henry was born at Tamworth, New South Wales in 1876 to parents Robert Girling and Elizabeth Mary Hoffman. Thomas found his way to Western Australia and was first recorded as a labourer at Coolgardie with the Ways and Works Govt Dept in January 1900. After this, he joined the WAGR Traffic section in January 1901 at Kalgoorlie where his duties were stated: - Porter, and the same in April at Kanowra. Later that same year he became a Night Officer at Paddington and he had this same position over the next 8 years moving frequently to different stations; the first being Boondi then Grass Valley, Bulla Bulling, back to Grass Valley and finally Collie where he managed to progress to Assistant Station Master in May 1910. One reason why his progression was slowed may have been due to a number of cautions and mistakes recorded on his work record. From his records there can be seen a pattern of escalating penalties for some of the mistakes that a Night Officer can commit. “Fines” were issued for being asleep on duty; “cautions” move up the scale for offences to do with cash remittances not being sent forward or mail and parcels delayed. Then there are the most serious offences that incurred a “severely cautioned” annotation on a person’s record which presumably slowed their progression towards promotions. The most serious offences occurred when anything was delayed as well as staff and ticket irregularities or disc lamps burning during the day. These seem to have been the impediments to Thomas attaining the level of Station Master as quickly as he might have.

Thomas and Olive on their wedding day in 1913

Finally his first appointment as a Station Master was From Sept 1910 – March 1912 at Wurarga near Mt Magnet. This was a short appointment before he moved to Boulder where in 1913 he married Olive Rosetta Tryhall. When they married, he was 37 and she was 22. They had their first daughter Dorothy Hilda here in 1914. A brief stint at Sandstone came in 1916 then at the end of the year came a transfer to Northampton for a little over 4 years before ill health necessitated the family moving down to Perth in 1921. An article in the Geraldton Guardian Newspaper indicated that the Girlings were well liked and their departure regretted by the people of Northampton. While at Northampton a second daughter, Helen Ruth, had been born in 1917.

The move to Perth saw Thomas Girling appointed to Darlington as Station Master where a third daughter, Lorna Faye, was born in 1921. This move saw the longest period of stability for the family staying 7 years at the same place.

Station Master House 2008, photo courtesy of Arlene Collings

December seemed to be a common time for Station Masters to move- probably because they had young families and it wasn’t as disruptive for their children when changing schools. The Girlings were no exception and their 5th move was to Dardanup in December 1928. This wasn’t to be a happy change as September 1929 saw the death of Olive Girling at the age of 38 leaving her husband with 3 young daughters to raise, the last born, Lorna, was just 8 years old. Olive was buried in the Wesleyan Section at Karrakatta Cemetery.

Olive Girling’s grave at Karrakatta Cemetery

There were two more moves as Station Master after Dardanup, firstly to Kalamunda then Corrigin. In 1942/3 he retired and moved to Cottesloe.

Thomas’s daughter Hilda had married Wilfred Dodge who was a teacher and by 1949 they were living in Kalgoorlie. Thomas joined them there and was looked after until his death in 1956. He was buried in the Anglican Section of the Kalgoorlie Cemetery.

Thomas Henry Girling

BOFF Charles (Chas) Edward (December 1928 - December 1937)

Charles, or Chas as he was called, was born in 1882 at Rugby, Warwickshire, England to parents William and Mary Jane (nee Dyson) Boff. In the 1901 and 1911 English Census Chas’s occupation was Railway Porter for the North West Railway. English records show he married Agnes Grace Hamson in 1910 however she died after a short time leaving him widowed later that same year. Chas migrated to Western Australia citing his occupation as Carpenter and arrived at Fremantle from London on the “Orama” in December 1911.

Chas does not appear to have gone into a Station Master position immediately and the earliest town where he can be found, is Quairading in 1914 where he joined the Rifle Club and is mentioned in the newspapers enjoying a concert for the Rifle Club. It would appear that Chas met his future wife Emma Frances Evans while he was working in Quairading where her family were living having moved from Victoria after the death of her father in 1908.

He seems to have then moved to Dalwallinu as his occupation in 1916 was ‘Cleaning the Station House’ at this location. Emmie as she was called and her mother Margaret Theresa Evans both married in 1916; Emmie at West Perth and her mother at Perth. Emmie became Mrs Charles Boff and her mother Mrs Robert Neale Smales. There was an age gap between Chas and Emmie of some 15 years -when they married he was 34 and she was 19.

The Boffs only child Margaret Mary was born two years later at Albany while they were living in Mt Barker. By 1922 the family had moved to Tambellup where he was working as an assistant Station Master. Three years later his next move was as a fully qualified Station Master to Wokarina. This was only a brief stay until 1926, then they moved to Pickering Brook which was also a brief stay until 1928. Finally they moved to Darlington which gave some stability as they were to remain here for 9 years until December 1937.

Train at the Darlington station courtesy Rail Heritage, WA.

It was while at Darlington that Chas’s talents in a variety of interests blossomed. His two great passions appeared to be in singing and growing dahlias. His skills in growing dahlias were rewarded at the autumn shows for both the Railways Horticultural and the Midland and Districts where he was highly successful in gaining Championship Honours in his display class and first in the floral section with a vase of decorative dahlias. It would appear that the men of Darlington excelled with flowers as builder George Bishop also grew dahlias with great success and Mofflin excelled with his roses. Darlington also had its own Horticultural Autumn Show where George Bishop and Chas Boff were in direct competition both growing dahlias, however George managed to win most of the categories.

As well as his horticultural pursuits, Chas was an excellent singer, competing in the Hills Eisteddfod winning the men’s solo in 1934 and 1936 plus coming second in the Musical Festival. After leaving Darlington, Chas appears to have worked at Perth as a Booking Clerk. Their only daughter Margaret married John Charles Mitchell in 1941 but they do not appear to have had children. Chas died in 1951, his wife Emmie in 1984 and both are buried in the Roman Catholic Section of Karrakatta Cemetery.

Charles and Emmie Boff’s grave at Karrakatta

LESLIE Alexander (December 1937 – June 1939)

Aleck as he was called, was born at Nairn, Scotland in 1894 to parents Alexander Leslie and Margaret S. Milne. He migrated to Western Australia on the “Belgic” in 1912 giving his occupation as Baker and Pastry Cook. His enlistment for WW1 in August 1914 was at Kalgoorlie where he was placed in the 11th Battalion and was at the landing of Gallipoli on the 25th April 1915. He was invalided back to Australia and pronounced medically unfit in October 1916 due to nervous debility and received a pension as a result. He returned to Kalgoorlie and briefly worked for Elsbury Bros Bakery as well as working casually for the Post Master General’s Dept where his conduct was noted to be good and he had performed satisfactorily for the period of time from October 1916 until 1919. He then joined the West Australian Government Railways (WAGR) in March 1920 and was employed as a Porter. In 1921 he married Bernice Alma Taylor in Kalgoorlie and they had two children here; Joan and Graham. Also while at Kalgoorlie, in 1925 he became Chieftain in the Caledonian Society. In March 1926 the Leslie family moved to Wyalkatchem where he was a Station Officer with the Railways still learning the ropes to become a Station Master. It was here his third child Peggy was born. By Feb 1934 he was transferred to Mt Barker as Assistant Station Master and in December 1934 he was transferred to Dumbleyung where he finally became a Station Master. He stayed here until December 1937 when he was transferred to Darlington. While in Darlington the Leslie family was noted to be taking advantage of the social events held there with specific mention of a Badminton Social where both David Arkell and Joan Leslie attended in 1939. They were to marry later in 1941. Aleck had a variety of interests, the Presbyterian Church in Darlington being one of them. The families stay in Darlington was cut short when the WAGR decided that Darlington didn’t warrant a Station Master despite deputations from the local residents to keep one there and improve the train service. Consequently in June 1939, the Leslie family left Darlington and Aleck became the last Station Master to serve there. After Darlington he went to the Perth office and served as a relief Clerk and the family moved to North Perth. Here he belonged to the North Perth Masonic Lodge and local Bowling Club. He was also a member of the Perth Philharmonic Choir. In1941 he transferred to the Secretary’s Branch where his service officially finished on the 25th July 1955 and he died suddenly 4 days later.

 

Aleck was buried in the Presbyterian Section of Karrakatta Cemetery and given a War Grave Commission plaque. His wife Bernice who died in August 1986 was buried in the same section but a different grave.

Aleck has been put on the Fremantle W.A Maritime Museum Welcome Wall for migrants.

Letter of thanks from the Darlington Presbyterian Church November 1939

Aleck Leslie c1914                                                                  Aleck and Bernice Leslie 1948

Cemetery Plaque at Karrakatta

© Darlington History Group       Ver 2.1.3     Oct 2019