Central Railway Station - The Five Pound Note

Sydney Trains - Red Rattler Commuters

Central Railway Station - The Five Pound Note.

In 1955 a five pound note represented over a day’s pay, so when the 6.58 a.m. ' red rattler ' pulled into Central Railway Station and several commuters saw what they thought might be a note of that denomination lying on the opposite railway track the conversation went something like this:

“Do see that?”

“See what, mate?

“That piece of paper down there.”

“Oh,”

Early model 'red rattlers' were mostly made of wood
Early model 'red rattlers' were mostly made of wood

A piece of paper on the track...could it be...?

I was on my way back to my ship at Garden Island, and the conversation was bounced around by some half-a-dozen blue-collar workers. In those days it was far too early for the office crowd. The opposite platform was completely deserted.


“You thinking what I’m thinking?”

“Yeah -No, it couldn’t be.”

“No. Nobody’d drop that much money and not get it.”

“Still it does look like....”

“A fiver. Sure does, mate.”

“The colour’s right”

“Naw. It’s a trick o’ the light.”

“Size is right.”


Typical commuter train from 1940s into the 1980s

Later red rattlers were all-metal
Later red rattlers were all-metal

People were starting to squirm

From my location by the window I could see the others, starting to squirm. Yes, it did look like a five pound note. There was a long silence. The suburban train had stood motionless for a good three minutes. It didn’t appear to be going anywhere. Would there be time...?

The silence continued. Did I imagine it, or was there a sort of tension rising within the confines of that crowed space. The train still didn’t move.

Suddenly four or five people all leaped to their feet. Five pounds! A fiver! A good day’s pay -just sitting down there on the track. If only....

Is is possible to pick out a five pound note on a railway track
Is is possible to pick out a five pound note on a railway track

The shrill sound of a whistle

The shrill sound of a whistle. Then -Hoot! The red rattler commuter gave a lurch as couplings took up the slack. Some people, now half standing fell back into their seats. Others, remained standing, studiously avoiding other people’s eyes; pretending they’d stood ready to get off at the next railway station. It was a moment of embarrassment. Then, as the suburban train gathered speed and plunged into the tunnel towards Town Hall, the rationalisations began.

We've gone from red to silver but the trains are still as packed as ever
We've gone from red to silver but the trains are still as packed as ever

The rationalizations began...

“Must have been just a coloured piece of scrap.”

“Yep.”

"Just a piece of paper."

“Nobody’d leave that much money. Not even on a busy railway line.”

“Couldn’t have really been a fiver.”

Well, maybe... or someone playing a joke”

“Too big for Monopoly money.”

“Yeah. But it definitely wasn’t real money.”

And fifty-five years later I’m still not sure.

I hope you enjoyed, Central Railway Station - The Five Pound Note.


The Sydney 'Coat Hanger' in 1950s

Commuter train to right, with Sydney Harbour Bridge is background around time of this story.  Sydney's tallest building, the AWA Tower, can be seen off in distance just to right of Bridge's southern pylons.
Commuter train to right, with Sydney Harbour Bridge is background around time of this story. Sydney's tallest building, the AWA Tower, can be seen off in distance just to right of Bridge's southern pylons.

2 comments

lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida

Sometimes the best stories are of the most mundane, ordinary things -- great read. Lynda


Tusitala Tom profile image

Tusitala Tom 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia Author

Thank you, Lynda. What you say is true. In my time I've had some very unusual and often funny things happen to me and around me. It's a matter of recalling them, then writing them down.

Thansks again.

Tom

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