Renown Locomotive Driver

John Hampson

Edward Keane contacted and negotiated to bring John Hampson and his family, from England after offering John employment as an engine driver for Keanes developing railway building business.

Arriving at King George Sound aboard the “Austral” in 1890, John, his wife Elizabeth, and their then three children, landed at Albany. On reaching Midland Junction they were first housed in a railway “V” van in the Midland Railway Company Yard on land where the Centrepoint Shopping Centre stands today. This was temporary until the erection of suitable tents and whilst houses were being built in Woodbridge Terrace.

John Hampson was employed to drive a crane loco believed to be the “Renown”. This was brought to Western Austraila from an Exhibition in South Australia, and arrived a month after Johns arrival. The “Renown” was used extensively on a number of Keanes rail projects and particularly of the Zig Zag line out to Canning Mills. The attached crane was removed early in its life and no known photos exist of it with the crane.

John Hampson with His Son, Harry c1940s

John was born in April 1855, in Gornel Wood, Dudley, Staffordshire. He was the son of John Hampson (railway mining contractor). John.’s wife Elizabeth, was a Midwife and eventually became listed on the Register of Midwives in Western Australia.

On arrival in Australia their then youngest son Harry was a toddler of 10 months old. Of the children of John and Elizabeth, the first three came on the Australia to Midland with them and the rest were born in Midland. Harry and Fred both worked at the Railway.
Louisa (1880) Florrie (1884) Harry (1890) John (1892) Ivy(Dot) (1895) James (1897) Frederick (1900) Olive (1911).

In an interview with the “Swan Express” on his retirement in 1955 after 44 years working at the Midland Railway Workshops, he remembered days gone past.

Elizabeth Hampson c1920

He remembered his Mother having to walk to Guildford to catch the train to Perth. He also recalled too, the camel teams which passed regularly through Midland Junction. Harry attended school in the old Church of England Hall which stood on what is now Ascension Park. Harry was a Postman when he first met Hilda Tasker, the daughter of a Guildford Blacksmith, who he later married in 1910.

He commenced work at the Way and Works Branch of the Railways in the old West Midland Workshops as a blacksmith striker until his retirement in 1955.

When he died in 1986 he was respected and believed to have been Midland’s oldest resident at the grand age of 96. Harry, probably better known as “Silver” to his work mates, had hoped to live to reach 100 and often remarked in recent years, “I don’t want a telegram from the Queen, Bob Hawke will do me.”

Harry and Hilda had eight children, and when Harry passed away in 1986 there were 31 grandchildren, 41 great grandchildren and eight great great grandchildren. Many old friends attended the service for this respected Midland resident at Karrakatta including many people that his mother had delivered as the local midwife.

References: Article: Pickering Brook Heritage Group

                     Images: 1, 3, 4 Tanya Hampson
                                   2 Pickering Brook Heritage Group