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Treasured Memories of the Old Railway Station

When Norm Bridge shared this photo of the Adelaide Railway Station of old on our Facebook page earlier this year it brought back a flood of memories for many of the site’s followers.

Photo from Norm Bridge. The interior of the Railway Station! It was always such a thriving hive of activity with people dashing to catch a train or people arriving and scurrying up the stairs into the city

Photo from Norm Bridge. The interior of the old Railway Station. It was always such a thriving hive of activity with people dashing to catch a train or people arriving and scurrying up the stairs into the city

I loved the old Railway Station! It was always such a thriving hive of activity with people dashing to catch a train or people arriving and scurrying up the stairs into the city. I used to love the old cafeteria which is in this shot, with its smorgasboard style meals, how many pies with tomato sauce did I eat there with a knife and fork!!

And I think the man in blue may have gone by the time this photo was taken. I also remember the shops on the ramp too and I’m sure there was a big jockey’s scales just at the start of the ramp, 1d to check your weight.

I remember too the big red dragon sign which I recall was at the northern end and it used to give a loud click when it switched on and it had that fleuro buzz.

Lots of people posted their own comments and memories. Peter Lang wrote; “This magnificent building was erected in 1926 and was designed by Herbert Louis Jackman who was also responsible for many other of Adelaide’s prominent buildings. For Example: Tattersall’s Hotel, Hindley Street (1900), the rebuilding of the Stag Hotel, Rundle Street (1902), Bowman’s Building, King William Street (1908), Charles Moore’s Department Store, Victoria Square (1913), and Hooper’s Furnishing Arcade, Hindley Street (1927-1930). All this by a country lad born in Kapunda

Scott Arbon posted how he recalled the pasties from the bakery were very peppery and tasted brilliant. Other memories for him included; “Watching the lights flashing around the departure/arrival board and trying to work out how it worked. The Dragon down one end. The little buggy pulling along the small wagons with people’s bags on them. Probably most of all, I remember it actually being a railway station with people arriving and departing for many destinations around the state, not like it is now, just a suburban train destination”.

Alice Dowling remembered Shipway the jeweller at the bottom of the ramp; “I had my ears pierced back in 1960. I used to go to the cafeteria for lunch, those were the best days of my childhood coming home on the train was a treat in those days”.

John Burford posted; “If I could pick just one memory of the Railway Station, it would be the big iron gates to the platforms. Then the cafeteria, the ramp, the Seppelts and dragon signs. Wish I’d bothered to photograph it all then, but like so many things when you’re young and have to pay for each roll of film,  I didn’t.

And just finally, from Andrew Heslop; “I love this image, I remember the neon Lion sign across the ramp (below the windows) heading towards the platforms. 
There were also railway posters on the left advertising Arkaroola and other places that could be reached by train. This photo above I believe is from September, as the white booth is selling Royal Show tickets”.

The old Railway Station photo certainly brought back many memories for countless people!

What are some of the memories you have of the Adelaide Railway Station from back then.

23 Responses to Treasured Memories of the Old Railway Station

  1. Lyndlee December 16, 2014 at 7:31 pm #

    I guess the strangest memory is that none of the platforms were underground. I am a regular train catcher now and often try to remember what it looked like back then.

  2. Kym December 17, 2014 at 6:18 am #

    I clearly remember the large cafe, the ticket windows were outside where the casino has moved in. Also the large HALLS soda neon sign above the north tce stairs.

  3. sally feuerherdt March 1, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

    I also remember the the jeweller on the ramp at the adelaide railway station—-that jeweller was only one of very few places that had a good name for piecing ears–they always used gold sleepers, not studs—and the spell of the antiseptic made one think all will be o.k.
    I clearly remember i had my ears done on a saturday morning……my mother came with me and we travelled by train from peterhead to adelaide as i had my young baby “GUY” in the pram—–i still remember my mother standing outside the jeweller holding my pram while i had my ears pieced….all the time i was panicking in case my mother let go of the pram with my baby and it would go down the ramp—-too scared to go on my own so, mum the pram and the baby came too—–it was my husbands day to go to the “rifle club” otherwise he would have taken me——HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED “NOTHING TO IT NOW”—-get it done on every street corner just about

  4. Katherine Halsey March 5, 2016 at 5:07 pm #

    What I remember is running down the stairs at the southern end. They were wide and I never ever tripped up or down them.

  5. Brian Lamprell November 14, 2016 at 4:12 pm #

    Who remembers the “Man In Blue reading the train arrival times on the radio every morning. I don’t know why, but I still remember that the ” Tailem Bend train arrives at 10.06″

  6. Pam G January 8, 2017 at 2:03 pm #

    I remember the ‘sparkles’ in the steps leading up to North Terrace.

  7. Lisa March 10, 2017 at 10:38 am #

    I remember having to pay 2c to go to the toilets at the old railway station. Also we use to pick up my uncle a couple of times a fortnight from the train station and he’s always be waiting for us a the Pie Floater cart at the top of the stairs North Tce entrance to the railway station. I don’t remember the shops and other retailers but I do remember how wide and long the platforms use to seem back then as a 6 years old child in the 70’s.

    • Warren Mack October 3, 2022 at 11:33 am #

      2c? Used to be a penny.

  8. Rosemarie Bowden March 25, 2017 at 7:34 pm #

    I fondly remember travelling by train from Salisbury to Adelaide in the early to middle 50’s.
    Looking out of the windows I saw the small signs along the tracks saying how many miles to …… teas which was Adelaide. Can’t remember the tea brand, are they still there along the track, can you remember? Adelaide station was magic to me, so busy and interesting. On the way home
    we visited the cafeteria on the left and had a pie on a thick oval railway plate, and afterwards
    jelly. Oh the luxury of those simple pleasures which I will never forget.Then a choice of comic from the paperstand to read on the way home. Ahhh!
    Does anyone remember the row of large wicker trolleys on wheels just off the main station concourse on the left. Each trolley was name with a mission(or charity?) destination and that is
    where you donated goods. I clearly remember my mother putting clothes in a big basket
    which was destined for a far away mission station. It left an indelible impression on me as how
    we could help others and perhaps this part of my journey to being the passionate volunteer
    I have been all my life.
    Sadly in 1958 we left Adelaide station on the Overlander for a new life in the Eastern Coast.

  9. Charmaine April 2, 2019 at 10:43 am #

    I have two of the original Adelaide railway clocks. They were bought from a man for $10 who was working on the updated clocks during the 1970’s. I have had a small battery put in the back of one because all the clocks were connected to the main clock to synchronise the time.

    • Sarah June 24, 2019 at 2:04 pm #

      Hi Charmaine,
      I’ve been doing a little bit of investigative work into the original clocks at the Adelaide Railway Station. I’m having trouble working out the name of the clockmaker shown on the face of the clocks . . . I can’t find an image with a high enough resolution to be able to make it out! Is there any chance you’d mind letting me know what make the clocks you have are please? Or even if you could send me a photograph that would help out a lot!
      Thanks in advance 😀

      • George Jackett September 27, 2019 at 4:09 pm #

        Hi Sarah, Are you still visiting this item? I’m writing 3 months after your posting so you have probably found the answer to your query of the clockmakers name.
        It was .’PULSYNETIC’ Probably American as I think the Commisioner for the SA Railways was a Mr. Webb. He was engaged to do a massive upgrade of the whole railway system of the time and spent zilllions on not only the station but the rolling stock, locomotives and all.
        The existing system of the time was very Micky Mouse by comparison to the American style scale of equipment that he introduced.


    • Sarah Burge October 4, 2019 at 4:44 pm #

      Hey Charmaine,
      I’m not sure if you receive these replies via email, but it would be really great to get in contact about these clocks please!
      Thanks, Sarah

  10. Bev July 6, 2019 at 6:49 am #

    My friend and I were stewardesses on the Bluebird trains that went to various country towns. We had fabulous air-hostess style uniforms and felt frightfully glam. That was about 1972. Loved walking down that ramp, and really loved the big bowls of porridge we could get for breakfast. Exciting days for a couple of 18 year olds out in the world by themselves.

  11. David July 24, 2019 at 3:21 pm #

    I ran the photographic shop on the ramp.

  12. Neale October 12, 2019 at 3:40 pm #

    I remember how tired I got as a small child, running up the ramp to catch up with mum. It was steep! But what memories. The smell of the diesel wafting around the platforms. The uniforms of the platform staff. That dragon sign haunts my dreams. I used to stand there for ages watching it click off and on again. That’s why I had to run to catch up with mum! Years later as a teenager, I caught the train from Salisbury every day to work at Woodville GMH. I had to switch trains at Adelaide. I was too sleepy and too dumb as a teen to take it all in. I wish I had taken some photos. Just one of the dragon would make my year.

    • Brett March 30, 2020 at 5:42 pm #

      Hi Neale,
      I remember the red dragon sign. It was about half way down the ramp suspended from the ceiling.
      I think it was advertising a brand of tea but can you remember the name of the brand? My recollection is that it was not a common brand sold in Australia.In fact I wondered why they continued to advertise it.

  13. DAVID MARTIN January 10, 2020 at 12:49 pm #

    There were stairs that took you up to North Terrace, or a long ramp that took you in the direction of King William street. Most preferred the long ramp, as along the walls, there were tiny little shops. Dry Cleaners, Tobacconists, News sellers, Sweet shops etc.
    I remember one time that Mother stopped outside a hole in the wall news agent, who sold the evening news, drinks and sweets. She asked the lady for a “Bex “. . After paying the lady, she gave Mother a single packet and a paper cup of water. I could never work out how or where the water came from as the shop was so tiny.

  14. Brett Gooden March 29, 2020 at 6:29 pm #

    As you walked down the ramp in the 1940s, 50s and 60s there was a large red neon sign which you walked under and which flashed on and off and as someone has already remarked made a fizzing sound. But does anyone remember the brand of tea it was advertising?
    It was a Chinese name.

  15. robcheerful August 21, 2020 at 10:11 am #

    It was Mah Jongg Tea.

    I loved it in the 70s seeing trains of all different colours and shapes coming from all over the state.

  16. Elizabeth Knowles September 19, 2021 at 11:04 am #

    I loved the railway station and my husband bought my engagement ring from Shipway Jewellers on the ramp, that was in 1963 we were married in 1964 sadly he passed away in February this year four days after our 57th Anniversary.
    I used to go to town with mum when I was very little and always remember how she would love to have a ginger beer before we got on the train to go home.

  17. mick January 10, 2023 at 7:41 am #

    I recall in 1978 running down those stairs to catch a train to go to a friends house and go ice skating with a bunch of girls. Twisted my ankle and went down hard. Didn’t know it at the time but I had actually broken my ankle (and it still twists to this day because of that). My friends mother refused to let me go ice skating and I was stuck at his house watching TV with his annoying sister. Everything changes in life but whenever I go back to Adelaide I really feel the nostalgic loss of everything I remember. The red hens with the door slid open, letting the warm summer breeze in, the stations all the way up to Mt Lofty and beyond.

  18. Mic January 20, 2024 at 7:48 pm #

    I have a cast iron ceiling fan from the R/station, purchased it and 3 others matching, they all came from the Adelaide railway station, I purchased them from Horris Robinson Queenstown, he had a little shop but lots of sheds full of surprises that he would share with people he liked, he saw beauty in salvage decades b4 anyone else thought about preservation, I am sure he had many fixtures from the Adelaide railway station and many other prominent buildings around Adelaide!!

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