The Last Train to St Kilda

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Ando-
Welcome back readers! I trust you enjoyed my previous story about our famous Lady of St Kilda, the ‘J’.
Well this month I have the pleasure of introducing AJ, a train guru who used to drive the old train to the beloved St Kilda railway station.
Cast your mind back to last month; I was rambling on about the famous Red Rattler, now I will let AJ tell his story of a typical trip to St Kilda…

AJ-
Departing from Flinders Street platform 11, yet another run to our beloved St Kilda. Making our way over the Sandridge bridge (now a pedestrian walkway to Crown Casino), we spot the Allen’s Sweets factory; gotta love those Minties! On the right is Morley Ford with sparkling new Falcons and Cortinas ready for the discerning buyer. Our journey continues past the Robour Tea House, City Road overpass, South Melbourne Market, to stop at South Melbourne railway station, while taking in the picturesque terrace houses in their beautiful surrounds.
Next, Albert Park (don’t forget to stop for a coffee as a café now occupies the former platform site). Departing, we pass the old South Melbourne Technical School and in the distance is the Lakeside Oval, at the time the home of the South Melbourne Football Club, soon to be known as the Sydney Swans.
Passing Albert Park Lake, maybe a wedding at Rob’s Carousel? We arrive at Middle Park, a large party depart the train, no doubt for the Middle Park Hotel or maybe a soccer match at Middle Park Stadium.
Closing in on our destination, we pass expansive parkland, scattered with palm trees, under which couples, in cars or even panel vans, are sharing intimate moments. During daylight hours, we spot the ‘J’ while waiting for a green signal to carry on.
Welcome to St Kilda and yep the old station clock is still there. Just look at all the punk rockers on their way to the Seaview Ballroom, Prince of Wales or The Espy, to catch the latest gigs. Onya Freddie Negro!
Apart from the hotels, other keen memories include the ‘ladies of the night’ on busy Fitzroy Street, the Esplanade or Acland Street. Don’t forget a feed at Leo’s Spaghetti Restaurant.

Ando-
Sorry to butt in AJ, but I just want you to know that I love Leo’s too!
Back to you AJ. What happened to our train next?

AJ-
Well the last train ran to St Kilda on first of July 1987. What fond memories of the grand ‘tait’ train, also known as Ando’s ‘red rattler’ with her distinctive sounds and also of those silver things made by Hitachi that still run on other suburban lines.
To readers interested in memorabilia of this historic line, take time to visit Albert Park station (and don’t forget the coffee).

Ando and AJ-
Today the line is still there, the lightrail #96 run back and forth on the former railway line (unfortunately no ‘red rattlers’), but we have included some photos of our Red Lady and the Silver Stalwart.

Ando-
Thanks very much to AJ for that informative and historical insight; I thoroughly enjoyed it, as it brought back some fantastic memories for me as well. Talk to you soon…

By Ando & AJ

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