A Life on the Railways
16 Sep 2020
Our Lady of Loreto Gardens (Hamlyn Terrace) resident, Warren Snare turned 99 on 8 September 2020. He spent 41 years of his life in the Railways, commencing his career in Muswellbrook as a Lad Gatekeeper and working his way up to Station Master at Rozelle, the highest-grade Station Master position in New South Wales (NSW) at the time. During his career, Warren was posted to many stations throughout the state. He was also a family man with an active interest in community life. Here is his story.
Warren Snare was born in Milton, NSW on 8 September 1921. He and his brother, Noel were educated at The Rock and Grong Grong Primary Schools and Narrandera Intermediate High School. They lived near the Railway Trucking Yards and on Livestock Sale days would help the agents load sheep and cattle.
In his teens whilst playing sport, Warren became paralysed as a result of a heavy blow to the back of the neck. After a couple of operations and intensive physiotherapy, he resumed normal life but in 1937 had to spend approximately 12 months in Narrandera District Hospital.
Warren commenced his career with the Railways in 1940 at Muswellbrook as a Lad Gatekeeper attending Level Crossing Gates 12 hours per night, six nights per week. After completing a six-month probation period in the Railway service he was made a permanent employee. He was relocated to Burren Junction as a junior Porter. He then worked on the sleeping car between Burren Junction, Walgett and Pokataroo. After approximately eight months he was transferred to Werris Creek District Relief Staff covering all stations from Singleton to the Queensland border including the branch lines to Mungindi, Boggabilla and Inverell. He gained considerable experience over the next four years at the many stations he covered.
In early 1944 until the end of the war, Warren spent time in the busy Tamworth Booking Office liaising with the Army Rail Transport Officer. The office handled general booking arrangements for the large contingent of Army and Air Force personnel stationed at camps in the Tamworth region.
It was during this time that he met his wife to be, Joan Vial. They married in October 1945.
Pictured are newspaper clippings featuring Warren from the 1980s.
That same month Warren was transferred to Enfield Rail Marshalling Yards as an Assistant Train Guard moving goods trucks to various industrial sidings around the Sydney Metropolitan area. After learning to drive the electric trains he was appointed as a Guard in the Sydney and Inter-urban Passenger, Mail and Express trains to Nowra, Goulburn, Lithgow and Newcastle.
On the 25 August 1946, Warren’s first son, Warwick John was born. At the time they lived in Campsie and then moved to Rozelle.
At the end of 1946, Warren was promoted to Salaried Staff as 4th Class Assistant Station Master on the Werris Creek District Relief Staff. His next promotion was 3rd class Assistant Station Master at Scone where the Glenbawn Dam was under construction.
On the 1 July 1948, Warren’s second child, Carol Ann was born in Scone and on the 11 November 1949, his third child Marie Christine was born.
In 1953, Warren relocated his family to Tamworth when he was promoted to 2nd Class Assistant Station Master. In 1956, he took up the appointment to 1st Class Assistant station Master at the Werris Creek depot which involved relieving the various Depot Masters. In 1958, he was promoted Special Class Assistant Station Master.
Warren was on duty at Werris Creek on the night of12 October 1958 when a cafe in a double story block of shops, with residences above, was demolished by a ‘criminal explosion’ killing a baby in the chemist shop. Warren received a letter of Commendation from the Royal Humane Shipwreck Society for his part in rescuing survivors from the burning shops.
In 1960, Warren relocated his family again, this time to Sydney to take up an acting Station Master role at Meadowbank and North Strathfield. In 1961, he was appointed 4th class Station Master at Auburn until mid-1969, in June 1969 he was promoted to 3rd class Station Master at Wynyard, in 1971 he was promoted 2nd class Station Master at Hornsby, in 1972 promoted 1st Class station Master Darling Harbour Goods Yard and in 1978 was promoted to Special Class Station Master at Albury on the Victorian border.
Warren’s final appointment was Station Master at Rozelle, this being the highest-grade Station Master position in NSW. He retired on 3 October 1981, ending 41 years of Railway service.
In retirement, Warren and Joan travelled extensively throughout Australia by train and caravan, took some cruises and toured the UK, Scotland and Europe.
Sadly, in 1988 Warren’s wife Joan passed away and he relocated to Port Macquarie. On 12 February 1989, Warren married Enid Margaret Elliott whom he had known since his Railway days at Auburn in the early sixties. Warren and Enid also travelled extensively. Having moved house a few times they finally settled in Lake Haven in 2006.
Throughout his life Warren held positions in the community including President of Merrylands High School P & C and on the Parish Council of Merrylands Church of England. He was also an active member of the Masonic Lodge, Probus Clubs and Bowling Clubs in various communities.
Warren entered Our Lady of Loreto Gardens on respite on 9 July 2019 and transitioned to permanent care on 18 September 2019. He recently celebrated his birthday in the Home with family and friends.
For more information about Our Lady of Loreto Gardens visit https://www.catholichealthcare.com.au/residence/our-lady-of-loreto-gardens/