Lionel Noble

Lionel Noble (pictured in December 2011) began work as a 16 year old for the South Australian Railways at the Islington workshops on the 6th of September 1941. He was employed in the heavy machine shop where he operated a large radial drill. Up to that time he had made numerous attempts to enter the railway service where he hoped to be a fireman, but he was always unsuccessful because of his age.

His path to being a fireman eventually began when he was transferred to the Mile End depot and trained as a Cleaner. In 1943 he was temporarily transferred to work in Mount Gambier and then, at the age of 19, was transferred to Peterborough where he remained until being transferred back to Adelaide in 1975. At the time the Peterborough division was very busy with many troop movements as well as the regular freight between the Broken Hill mines and the Port Pirie smelters.

Lionel qualified as an engineman at the age of 23, the youngest driver in the SAR at the time. After a number of years working the lines in the Peterborough Division, in 1954 he was offered the role of relieving Locomotive Instructor. He became a full time instructor in 1960. He approached this job with a high degree of diligence, undertaking extra study in his own time. He ultimately trained many men on both the T Class locomotives and the 400 class Garratt.

Listen to Driver Doug Perrot speaking about his training under Lionel Noble.

Lionel has always been a keen amateur photographer. The photos on this website are part of a collection of many thousands that he has taken over the years. The photographs are not those of a professional photographer and some are not of high standard. That, however, adds to their appeal as they provide a record of the ordinary life of a railwayman of the era. With a keen sense of history he not only kept a photographic record but also collected numerous items of historical significance for the SAR. A number of these have now been donated to the Steamtown Museum in Peterborough where a Lionel Noble Collection is being developed.

Visit to view 100s of photos taken across his career.

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