THE restored locomotive and the wooden coaches that rolled into Bundaberg at the weekend to celebrate Queensland Rail's 150-year celebration sparked memories for one man.

Don Bengtson said the locomotive was built at Walkers in Maryborough.

Mr Bengtson said at the same time the last of the steam locomotives of the type that came through Bundaberg at the weekend was being built, Walkers was also helping to build the first diesel electric locomotives for use by Queensland Rail.

HINDSIGHT: Don Bengtson relaxing at home.
HINDSIGHT: Don Bengtson relaxing at home.

"A family friend of my guardian aunt, a design engineer in Walkers' engineering office, persuaded my aunt that I should not be following an accounting future but engineering," he said.

Mr Bengtson said after an interview at Walkers he was offered a job and started a five-year fitter and turning apprenticeship.

"At the end of year two I was selected to work in the office of the works manager Bruce Gordon, specifically to work with the tool room engineers and machine shop foreman Rudolph Ullman to design and draw up all the jigs and tooling required to produce the component parts for the last steam locomotive contract," he said.

Mr Bengtson later moved back into the machine shop, working on various machines machining components for the locomotive.

He said Walkers built 500 steam locomotives and a huge party was held in the Botanical Gardens one Saturday to celebrate.

Walkers went through various transformations and eventually the general engineering capacity split between an Adelaide-based company and Bundaberg Foundry, now known as Bundaberg Walkers Engineering.

"All of the sugar industry potential designs, detailed drawings and some heavy engineering machinery have been installed at the North Bundaberg factory, including a computer-controlled machining unit," Mr Bengtson said.

He said he and his family moved to Bundaberg in 1964 as senior estimating engineer for the company.

He later worked for the Wide Bay Burnett Electricity Board then Ergon Energy for 27 years.



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