Roger Parsons removes his work boots for the last time
yesterday, signalling his retirement after 50 years at the
Hillside Workshops in South Dunedin. Photo by Stephen
Marking 50 years of work at the Hillside foundry, Roger
Parsons yesterday poured the last KiwiRail cast on site before
heading to his local for a beer. The 65-year-old started as a
Hillside moulding apprentice on February 7, 1963, aged 15.
He took redundancy when KiwiRail announced its partial
closure of the South Dunedin workshops last year and finished
yesterday, the last day the foundry was operated by KiwiRail.
''From here on it will be Bradken's foundry,'' Mr Parsons
KiwiRail recognised his 50 years of service four working days
before the anniversary, taking into account Mr Parsons'
accumulated holiday leave.
He was given a replica New Zealand DX-class locomotive,
framed 50-year service certificate, $500 Mitre 10 voucher and
a redundancy package.
Mr Parsons remembered what his first fortnightly pay of 11
was spent on.
As an apprentice he walked home with a worker nicknamed ''Unc
Johnson'', who usually waved him off at the end of Forfar St.
But pay day was different.
''I went to head home and he said 'where are you going?'.
''He took me to the pub for a jug of beer and told me I had
better buy a bottle to take home to my dad, which I did.
''Dad went berserk, which he should've, I guess, because I
was just 15 years old and the drinking age was 21.''
Mr Parsons had long since enjoyed a beer after work and
occasionally called for ''a Ribena'', which bar staff at his
''local'', the Southern Sports Bar and Grill, knew to be red
On his father's instruction he became an apprentice, although
no other immediate family members worked at Hillside.
''We had a farm and my dad told me he didn't care what I did,
as long as I did an apprenticeship. After that it was up to
me, and I just stayed here.''
''I can honestly say I have never gotten up in the morning
and said I didn't want to go to work,'' Mr Parsons said.
He would miss the people at Hillside and said it would feel
strange to not routinely enter the workshops.
Mr Parsons had seen a lot of workers ''come and go'' and had
survived mass redundancies.
The most challenging and exciting project was casting three
massive turbines for the Huntly Power Station in the early
''We had to cast underground, because the turbines were so
big, each weighing about 20 tonnes.
''Pouring 10 tonnes of molten metal at a time through ceramic
tubing under your feet was pretty exciting.''
Mr Parsons also enjoyed helping Hillside apprentices and said
it was sad the institution had come to an end.
Now retired, he planned to buy a metal detector and spend
some time ''in the hills'', when not fishing or playing golf
''I don't think I'll be bored,'' he said.