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30 - Midland Railway Workshop 1

Midland Railway Workshop 1

A short walk south east of the Midland train station will magically teleport you to an old English location. The only difference being that we have blue skies and they don’t (according to all the TV shows and movies) and we wear warm clothes even on hot days, whilst they only wear shorts and t-shirts on days as cold as -10°C.


Aside from that (as well as no roads of cobblestone), the scene of what one could imagine some fifty years ago, is so accessible. Turning off any technological crap and stopping the pointless yabbering if you’re with someone, the silence that flows through the wide streets turns the atmospheric scene into something more vivid.


The occasional breeze or stronger wind taps against vintage window panes and loose bits of tin. Quiet footsteps as you walk, that at times, crunches in loose debris scattered over the asphalt. The smell of grease penetrates your senses. Staring at the windows, imagining the scene when the original window panes were first installed as early as 1904.


Can you hear the environmental noises with train whistles, machinery and perhaps the associated sounds of heavy, hard work?


Vibrations of engines and the unknown, can you feel it through your feet?


A vintage car drives past in the distance. The driver nods slightly and it’s a wonder his top hat doesn’t fall off his head and out the window. The chugging rumble of his motorcar disappears around the corner, only to be replaced with a horse and a cart. Its wheels crunching through the loose grey stone of the street where the cobblestones are yet to be laid.


I enter an open railway workshop. The smell of grease intensifies, as my thoughts begin to visually associate it with old machinery from back in the day. I can feel my intrigue rising up like mercury. No longer visible are the hundreds of people who once worked in this warehouse or that of the many others in the area, until its closure in March 1994. Generations after generations. Who knows what dangers they were putting themselves in, in order to bring home a measly packet to feed their families, pay their mortgage and settle their pub tabs. Who knows what illnesses they would have acquired over the years, without the mandatory, at times, authoritarian workplace safety and personal protection requirements we have now.

The walls are thick with lime paint, many coats over. Perhaps with the intention of once stopping the cracks that have appeared over time. A Uniform Officer Inwards sign is still attached to the wall and without any idea of what it represents, I look around to see a non-existent Outwards one.


The typical view of pigeon poo covers the concrete floor in corresponding lines from the beams above. Perhaps the sharp nails I often see on the edge of roofs also help to plug their pooping orifices. Stepping on a pile of dried bird excrement crushes it to dust like a pile of forgotten ashes.


The warm October temperatures only an hour short of sunset contributes to the stifling heat I feel in the workshop. I can’t bear to imagine the extensive heat the workers would have had to endure, despite my own experiences of working in the Mount Whaleback mine of Newman on a 54°C day or in various factories.


My imagination goes into overdrive as the place makes me feel like I’m the only one left on this earth. No movement to distract the silence. Thick chains with head-sized hooks hang to dry, perhaps never to be used for any other purpose again. The big Avery platform scale is out of touch with reality, showing me I’m some ten kilos too heavy. Come to think of it, perhaps I was wearing my backpack.


The fading sun makes the warehouse suddenly colder and darker, yet I am eager to visit the remainder of the workshop, despite the dangers of any night time phantoms arising as a result. It makes me wonder why my imagination feels the need to run so rife to the point of strife when I just want to explore and be left in peace.


Graffiti mars the upstairs rooms, although many pieces are nothing short of thought-provoking. From a well-placed RIP on the window overlooking some nearby workshops to a frequently found devil. My favourite is unquestionably the female wearing a niqab. I can’t help but stop to stare at her eyes and despite her not looking in my direction, they captivate my thoughts. Wording nearby associates her as a celebration to ‘Inter-nat Womans Day.’ I can’t help but wonder what struggles this woman has had to endure, what is she thinking and what dreams and hopes gives her strength. She’s just a painting.


Before I know it, the sun has dashed my hopes to stay longer, replacing it with a blanket of night. I walk over to the window, touching the pane which is now slightly cold with the lost memories emitting from these buildings. The sounds of crickets rubbing their wings together to mate, or perhaps to warm them up, fills my ears and I know I must leave.


I rush out of the top rooms and down the big stairs, trying not to sound like a bowling ball thunking its way down. My imagination is yet to die a horrible death. Visions of souls and entities lurk about in my surroundings and even a man in hiding, has suddenly awaken to my sounds. I run through the workshop which surely must be at least 100 metres long. Panting, as my appendix appears to signal a tap out, like a combat sport.


I make it outside into the glow of what is left of the sun. Night time stars faint but ready for a long shift. A breeze sends my fringe flapping like a flag, as my steps crunch through a thick path of gravel.


Long ago history is now fresh in my mind.

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