As the Footplate Padre I can attest there are many stories about the Newcastle Flyer express train. This was one of the major 'name trains' on the New South Wales Government Railways, and in the days of steam right after World War II, it was hauled by the magnificent 38 Class steam locomotive.
The Newcastle Flyer was timetabled to run early morning, mid morning, lunch, afternoon and evening in both directions. It was a feature! Newcastle was the largest provincial city in the State with its steelworks, port, coal mines, power stations and secondary industries, and this route was highly utilised.
The coal trains were also running continuously day and night, and yet the Newcastle Flyer had preference and the world of NSWGR collapsed if the Flyer was running late.
In the NSWGR Commissioner's Office were set clocks with all the major name trains and the Newcastle Flyer's clock was featured prominently. In my 1988 book, 'Tales of the Footplate' there is a story about the Newcastle Flyer and its crew (page 61).
In those days of steam, when international VIPs came to Sydney who were interested in railways, they would inevitably be offered a ride in the cabin of the 38 Class on the Newcastle Flyer.
This was a most sought after 'treat' offered by the Government!
On the particular day described in the story, the Broadmeadow locomotive crew left Newcastle with the Flyer at 7.35am and was scheduled to return on the 12.50pm Newcastle Flyer out of Sydney.
After their break in the crew room, they returned to No.1 Platform where the 12.50pm Flyer was waiting with a freshly coaled and watered 38 Class locomotive (the tender needed filling with water to feed the boiler).
The Railways Chief Mechanical Engineer introduced a visitor from the UK, someone of his equivalent position, who was to ride on the engine to Newcastle and return to Sydney on the late afternoon Flyer.
This VIP came well prepared. He wore goggles, sported a little cap, sweat rag around his neck and boots that came up to his knees. He carried a suitcase which was carefully stored in the tucker box compartment. The Newcastle Flyer stopped at Strathfield and Hornsby, ran express to Gosford, then Broadmeadow and finally Newcastle. It proved a beautiful trip.
The VIP loved the ride up front, helped the fireman with the fire box, and was impressed by the magnificent scenery. On arrival in Newcastle, he took from his suitcase two labelled bottles of Johnny Walker Scotch and presented them to the driver and fireman.
The old driver would often say to the fireman after that trip, "Keep a sharp look out if there are any more of those generous VIPs wanting a ride on the engine!"
The Newcastle Flyer was top line.
Lydia - top line
This reminds the Footplate Padre of the story of Lydia (Acts 16) a highly respected business woman of Thyatira who sold expensive purple. Having heard Paul preach about Jesus, she responded with her whole heart and sought first to be baptised and pleaded to host them in her home, as was, this same generosity shown by that VIP.
Lydia is remembered within the pages of the New Testament and a hallmark of her ministry for the expansion of the Gospel and the Salvation offered, by who she was.
Consider these factors. Lydia was a sharp business person. She was good at her trade and provided the best quality purple to her customers, most probably high officials who could afford such and was paid well for her qualifications.
More than this Lydia was generous and highly respected and when she listened to Paul preach and responded to Jesus, her very action was noted and others too began to respond. This same principle occurred in Acts 18 where the leader of the Synagogue responded to Jesus and others then listened to the Gospel message. A bit like sports evangelism today.
Lydia had a heart for hospitality and recognised intrinsically the Lord's touch upon Paul and his associates. Open hearts are a special feature of being a follower of Jesus.
Dr Mark Tronson - a 4 min video
Chairman – Well-Being Australia
Baptist Minister 45 years
- 1984 - Australian cricket team chaplain 17 years (Ret)
- 2001 - Life After Cricket (18 years Ret)
- 2009 - Olympic Ministry Medal – presented by Carl Lewis
- 2019 - The Gutenberg - (ARPA Christian Media premier award)
Gutenberg video - 2min 14sec
Married to Delma for 45 years with 4 children and 6 grand children