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William Montgomery Shannon

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William Montgomery Shannon (1868-1933) of Victorian Railways

1868 April 27th. Born at Camberwell, Victoria, Australia, the son of Robert Horrobin Shannon (1829-1876) and his wife Elizabeth Martindale (1836-1895). Both his parents were from Liverpool and emigrated around 1855.

1902 December 31st. Married at Tamworth, NSW, to Nellie Patience Vickery (1870-1949)


1933 Obituary [1]

Deep regret was expressed in railway circles yesterday at the death or Mr. W. M. Shannon, who retired from the position of second Railway Commissioner last April, after being associated with the service for fifty-two years.

Mr. Shannon, who was 65 years of age, had been ill for tome time before his retirement, but he had kept in close touch with the departments activities.

Mr. Shannon entered the service in 1881 as an apprentice fitter, and after seven years transferred to the drawing office. He then went abroad, spending two years with English railway companies and with in civil engineering organisation in the United States. Shortly after his return to the rolling stock drawing office in Victoria he was promoted to the train-running bureau, and later became district rolling stock superintendent and assistant chief mechanical engineer.

In 1913 he became chief mechanical engineer, and six years later he was appointed a Commissioner, a position which he held until his retirement. During his term of office he was closely associated with the electrification of the suburban railway, and also with matters affecting the welfare of the railway staff.

He was known as a keen golfer and enthusiastic gardener. he is survived by a widow and three daughters, two of whom are married.


1933 Obituary [2]

Widespread regret will be expressed at the announcement of the death, winch occurred yesterday at his home, Yarrawitch, Princes street, Kew, Mr William Montgomery Shannon who Retired in April from the position of Railways Commissioner. Mr Shannon was aged 65 years. When he retired he had been in the railways service for 52 years.

The life of Mr Shannon might well serve as an inspiration to every young employee of the Victorian Railways Commissioners for in a long and honourable career in the service of the state he rose from one of the lowest positions in the Railways department to one of the highest. He was a native of Victoria when he was aged 13 years he entered the Railways department as a mechanical apprentice. He served for seven years as an apprentice fitter, and was then transferred to the drawing office. He was imbued with great ambition to increase his efficiency and to rise in the calling which he had chosen.

He worked his passage to England as it stoker on a steamer, and spent some time in the service of an English railway company. He also worked His passage to the United States, and found employment there with a leading Civil engineering company. He spent two years abroad, and when he returned to Victoria he was appointed to the rolling stock drawing office of the Railways department.

Rapid promotion followed. He was transferred to the running bureau and later was appointed district rolling stock superintendent. His advancement to the position of assistant chief mechanical engineer was a logical sequel, followed in 1913 by his elevation to the office of chief mechanical engineer While Mr Shannon occupied that important post he supervised the development of the Newport workshops, and conducted the branch with conspicuous efficiency. He was keenly interested in the development of railway locomotives and he lost no opportunity of improving the rolling stock on the Victorian railways system.

In 1919 Mr Shannon's distinguished career was crowned by his elevation to the position of Railways Commissioner. There were 38 applications for the position from every State in the Commonwealth. The selection of Mr Shannon caused great satisfaction among all railway employees. and the appointment proved to be as fruitful as it was popular. As commissioner in charge of Electrification. Mr Shannon responsible for the organisation which so transferred the suburban railways system from steam traction. When his term of appointment expired in April this year Mr Shannon did not apply for reappointment a fact which the cabinet noted with regret.

He expressed, for health reasons. His wish to retire from the service. His death followed a fairly long illness.

Mr Shannon is survived by Mrs Shannon and three daughters - Mrs G P Wischer, of Melbourne; Mrs J D Begg, of Korumburra; and Miss Joyce Shannon.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Age, Melbourne. 12th July 1933
  2. The Argus, Melbourne. 12th July 1933