Lionel Noble (pictured in December 2011) began work as a 16 year old for the South Australian Railways at the Islington workshops on the 6th of September 1941. He was employed in the heavy machine shop where he operated a large radial drill. Up to that time he had made numerous attempts to enter the railway service where he hoped to be a fireman, but he was always unsuccessful because of his age. His path to being a fireman eventually began when he was transferred to the Mile End depot and trained as a Cleaner. In 1943 he was temporarily transferred to work in Mount Gambier and then, at the age of 19, was transferred to Peterborough where he remained until being transferred back to Adelaide in 1975. At the time the Peterborough division was very busy with many troop movements as well as the regular freight between the Broken Hill mines and the Port Pirie smelters.
Lionel qualified as an engineman at the age of 23, the youngest driver in the SAR at the time. After a number of years working the lines in the Peterborough Division, in 1954 he was offered the role of relieving Locomotive Instructor. He became a full time instructor in 1960. He approached this job with a high degree of diligence, undertaking extra study in his own time. He ultimately trained many men on both the T Class locomotives and the 400 class Garratt.
In 1963, in preparation for the arrival of diesel locomotives on the Peterborough Division, Lionel along with two others was rostered to attend a diesel locomotive instruction course. He again spent many hours of his own time studying the technical details of the diesels so that he would be well prepared when having to instruct drivers. He drove the first 830 class diesel (number 856) on the Peterborough division, delivering it from Cockburn to Peterborough.
Lionel passed his Locomotive Inspector’s examinations in 1968 and was appointed to the position on August 8 that year. He transferred to Adelaide in August 1975. Because of his experience with the 830 class, he accompanied the first diesel to Tasmania when the railways system was taken over by Australian National. He was to travel there numerous times to train the drivers in mainline operation. Just prior to retiring, he was given the task of assisting in the rewrite of the Consolidated Book of Instructions and to write an air brake manual. He retired on March 30, 1984 after 43 years of service.
Lionel has always been a keen amateur photographer. The photos on this website are part of a collection of many thousands that he has taken over the years. The photographs are not those of a professional photographer and some are not of high standard. However, that adds to their appeal as they provide a record of the ordinary life of a railwayman of the era. With a keen sense of history he not only kept a photographic record but also collected numerous items of research and historical significance for the SAR and Peterborough township and people. Most of this has been donated to the Peterborough History Group and Museum. His research is being catalogued and a Lionel Noble Collection is being established. This website now includes a substantial collection of photographs of the township itself.
Lionel spent all his retirement years in the Reynella area of Adelaide, South Australia. He died peacefully at Happy Valley on Thursday September 10, 2015, having just turned 90 in July.