Chalked on the smokebox door of 14A was the message "Upper Ferntree Gully to Gembrook opened 18th December 1900. Puffing Billy Railway. 110 years.
Happy Birthday Puffing Billy. The current state of the railway and its operation is largely due to the volunteers and staff who man the railway everyday to drive it on. Thanks for keeping what is arguably one of the best preserved narrow guage railways operational.
Chalking a message on the firebox door is the traditional approach to providing information to the public and other railway personnel and has been used for more than a century. The message is usually written by the driver or fireman although occiasionally another will step in and do it. The chalked messages could be for something joyous like todays birthday celebration of 110 years since opening or more solemn occasions such as the passing of a friend, the closure of a line or the last train to someplace.
No such solemnety today as even a light drizzle could not dampen the enthusiasm of the children from the Santa Special hauled by G42 who sang Happy Birthday Puffing Billy as the train pulled into two road and cheered 14A on as it departed for the down trip to Lakeside.
14A respendant in black livery departs Emerald on the down from two road having just passed the Santa Special hauled by G42 which returned to revenue service today.
Guard David Hennell observes the departure out of Emerald on the down towards Lakeside on the commerative birthday train. David looks remarkably like a short beard Santa himself - considerably more so than the "real" Santa on the special!