By Michael Doran
Back in 2014, talk in the Yarra Glen Men’s Shed turned to what they could do after Yarra Ranges council stopped putting up the town’s Christmas decorations.
The members took on the project, loosely led by Alan Andrews, to fill the void left by the council, and their first thought was the proposed Yarra Glen to Healesville railway extension. The historic J541 locomotive became their design model and plans were drawn up using old photos.
“The first thing I did was to make the stickers of the numbers on the computer and got to work,” he said. “I wouldn’t call it a replica but I think the ones we made have a pretty good resemblance to the real thing, they have the right number of wheels anyway.
“We planned it out in the shed and made two locomotives, one for each side of the fence the council said we could attach it to. Then we painted them and put the stickers on and they were ready to put up.
“Even in the first year we got a lot of positive feedback from people around the town. Also people called up the shed saying how much they appreciated us doing it when the council just walked away from the town.”
Whilst the residents of Yarra Glen have been appreciative, feedback from the council for their efforts has been silent. “We received no congratulations or recognition whatsoever from the council,” Mr Andrews said.
“Over the last few years we have moved on to making Santas and Christmas Trees, although I reckon the trees were a bit of a flop. They looked a bit ordinary so we dressed them up in tinsel.
“There’s also the small models of the locomotive we made which are in a few of the shops around the town. I have already started thinking about next years project and its a secret, although it will probably look a bit like a reindeer pulling a sleigh.”