Another reminiscence

Townsville station: an example of solid old fashioned station architecture (not the station in this story)

One of the old hands told me a story about how two railway workers burnt themselves to death in one of the stations on my line.

According to him they were embezzling from the ticket money to gamble on the horses and they’d been warned they were going to be audited. So they decided to burn the station down and it went horribly wrong.

I’ve always doubted this story. The original Victorian brick station is still standing at the station in question. I took the opportunity to ask the retiring SM and he said the story was true. Apparently the fire gutted the inside of the building but the Victorians built to last so the outside was still fine.

What happened on the night in question was that the station had an old gas powered fridge which had a pilot light. As the two perpetrators were throwing petrol around to start their fire, some of it went down the back of the fridge and the thing exploded starting the fire early and locking the outer door with the workers inside.

Railway stations have to be hard to break into which means they are also hard to break out of. Hence the fatalities. Grim.