PROMINENT rail historian Peter Neve has been honoured with an Order of Australia Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Only moving to Junee three months ago, Mr Neve was recognised for his services for the preservation of Australian rail heritage.
Mr Neve said after a lifetime of work and interest in railways he was humbled to be recognised.
“It was unexpected … I was only doing my job,” Mr Neve said.
“It’s surprising how much knowledge you acquire about heritage.
“One of the things we have to remember is heritage is not only what’s happened, but what is happening now,” Mr Neve said.
Trains and rail has been the centrepiece of Mr Neve’s life and he said it all started when he was taking the train to school in Sydney.
Enrolled at the Canterbury Boys High School Mr Neve would catch a train from Sutherland to Sydenham before changing to the Bankstown line and finishing with a one kilometre walk to the school gate.
“Some kids were interested in cricket, many in girls and a few of us were interested in trains,” Mr Neve said.
He said kids were always more interested in things they saw around them – if that happened to be
The mutual interest led Mr Neve to form a club at the high school in 1956 which then lead to the formation of the NSW Schools’ Railway Club’s Association.
The combined association boasted up to 30 different schools as members at times and met once a month.
When Mr Neve graduated from school, there was only one place for him – NSW Government Railways.
He started work with the state’s second largest landholder – the railways property division in 1959.
At the time, the government harvested over a million pounds annually in rent.
As well as working for the railways, Mr Neve is a member of the Australian Railway Historical Society since 1955, the state’s rail transport heritage museum since 1962, the South-Pacific Electric Railway-Sydney Tramway Museum since 1964 and the Light Railway Research Society of Australia since 1966.
In 1993 Mr Neve became the heritage officer for the NSW Government Railways, drawing up agreements for heritage groups to utilise disused infrastructure and disposing of rolling stock including CPH “tin hare” rail motors, 42, 44 and 48 class diesel locomotives.
When the state government broke up the railways organisation in 1999, Mr Neve became a heritage consultant for the government, overseeing work by volunteers in maintaining the state government’s official collection among other things.
In 2011, he retired and now focuses on writing about rail heritage and is a peer reviewer with many articles published in the Railway Digest, published by the Australian Railway Historical Society.