St Vinnies volunteers unearth buried rail treasure. and donate it
ST VINNIES volunteers are trained to spot the treasures buried in the hundreds of donation boxes they sort through.
But every so often a true gem appears.
Recently, volunteers at the Madonna House centre stumbled over an odd-looking lantern.
The device was passed to veteran rail worker Tim Blades who hypothesised that it was a gatekeeper’s lantern, albeit a large one.
“It could have been left over from someone who bought it or kept to after they retired,” he said.
In the days before electric lights and automatic boom gates, a rail gatekeeper would stand guard at a level crossing and wave his kerosene lantern in the dark to warn approaching travellers of a passing train.
One of these gate keepers would have been stationed at the Russell St crossing in Toowoomba’s CBD.
The lamp was manufactured in Birmingham, England, sometime between 1850 and 1945 and is estimated to be worth about $400 to the right collector
“I worked on the rail line for 45 years and I never saw one this size,” Mr Blades said.
Rather than sell it to a private collector the St Vincent de Paul Society donated it to the DownsSteam Tourist Railway and Museum.
“It is something that we could potentially make a bit of money off, but it has far more value for the museum,” regional operations manager Adam Bruggemann said.
“It is going to be appreciated by more people rather than someone putting it on their mantle place.”
Museum chairwoman Ros Scotney was overjoyed with the gift.
“We often have people donate items from a deceased estate, like a whistle or a few uniforms, but this is something that will be a jewel in our crown,” she said.
“It had come all the way from Birmingham and from another time.”
“We’ll do it up nicely and put it on display in our memory carriage.
“Hopefully someone will remember seeing a gatekeeper waving one around.”
Originally published as St Vinnies volunteers unearth buried rail treasure. and donate it