Working at the Hamilton Facilities

Hamilton facilities (photo Rob Poulton)

Kerry Atkins writes: I worked at BW&WD (Brisbane Wharves and Wool Dumping) & P&O  at Hamilton Wharves from 1977 – late 1979. I worked in the container operations building, where we had a room full of container planners, which people may not be aware of. Their job was to arrange containers on ships, per weight/load, which with thousands on containers coming in and out of the port each day, was a huge task. There was a tower in the building where traffic controllers oversaw the movement of containers on and off ships using huge gantry cranes and the movement also of straddle cranes around the wharves, which are very dangerous machines. After many earlier accidents and deaths from straddles, which are impossible to see from when being driven, manned crossings were installed, where the crossing guards used walkie talkies to communicate with each other and it was mandatory that everyone on the wharf had to wear hard hats and I guess these days, also hi-vis. I worked as one of two switchboard operators, for both the wharves and P&O, but part of my job was as a relief operator on the telex machine, where it was our job to transmit and receive very long telexes with individual container numbers listed. This was a job which required extreme accuracy. One day we had very high winds and one of the gantry cranes took off on its rails, it got to the end, where huge bollards were in place, stopped with a thud, nearly overbalanced, but just in time, righted itself. I enjoyed working here and only left as I was due to have my son.

Straddle crane (photo Rob Poulton)