The Chief Mechanical Engineer communications

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) managed the Mechanical Branch from the Chief Mechanical Engineer’s Office. The CME was responsible for the construction, maintenance, and operation of locomotives drawing carriages and wagons throughout the NSW Railways network.  


Mr Ernest Edward Lucy CME at his desk in room 18 of the CME office in Wilson Street.
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The Chief Mechanical Engineer’s world was one without electronic communication to reach the thousands of staff working under him at every railway depot across the state. District locomotive engineers travelled to the CME Office each month and minutes of these meetings from 1889 to the 1980s exist to this day.  

Almost daily circulars with instructions from the CME to staff were written by hand, typed onto a page by the secretary, and then printed at the Eveleigh Railyard for delivery to each mechanical branch in the state. Circulars typically ended with, “Inform all concerned, and acknowledge receipt”. Every staff member had to sign a docket that they had seen and read a copy of the document. 


Notice to Enginemen E2 80 93 a very early circular signed by William Thow CME 2C 30 May 1889.
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There are records of tens of thousands or circulars that were numbered and hand pasted into specially designed ‘skeleton books’. The CME’s Circulars were numbered, beginning from No 1 in 1889 to 10,092 by 1943.

The circulars are about industrial relations, work practices, public holidays, and persons never to be re-employed. They still exist either in the collection at NSW State Records, and many were also painstakingly recorded electronically by the Australian Railway Historical Society (NSW). 


Filing of Circulars E280 A6 done intelligently. Circular No. 3965 2C 3 January 1918 2C E.E.Lucy CME.
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