Sid & Yvette Harvey

by life member Don Finalyson, with the assistance of fellow life member Alan Porter and Secretary Ross Parker, November 2018

Whilst this is not an obituary in the normal format, it is a bit of Club history of Sid and Yvette during the period that they were Club members and opened their home in Webb Street, Cottesloe for Club activities from the early 1960’s until they returned to England in 1965.

I was introduced to the Club by member Albert Vanstan, whom my mother knew from her primary school days. Albert had a layout which over the 16 years I knew him till his death in 1978 was rebuilt twice by another club member, the late Allan Hamilton and myself. I digress; Albert had been a Club member for some time and it was at the Harveys’ home, where the Club was meeting that I was taken to early in 1965. They had a small layout on the covered in side verandah at their home which was made available to Club members on meeting nights.

Railway Runs In The 
Middle Of The House 
A railway runs through one room of the Cottesloe home of Mrs Yvette 
Harvey—but her only worry is that a signs] system has not yet 
installed. 
The railway is the 
pride and joy of the 
W. A. Model Railway 
Club, 01 Which Mrs 
Harvey is secretary. 
Mrs Harvey is picture 
ed with the model rail, 
way. 
Three years ago, when 
a club member wanted 
to his garage as a 
garage instead of a 
home tor the railway, it 
was taken in by Mrs 
and her 
band, Sidney. who is 
president or the club. 
It occupies the whole 
of a 14tt. by IOft_ room 
off their loungeroom. 
More than 40011. ot tiny 
sleepers are in the 
thiN2e-IeveI eirx.•uit_ 
Mr and Mrs Harvey 
have spent most of 
their spare time build, 
in g extras as a 
garden suburb, a rural 
Village, Wharf and 
crane, billboards, sta- 
lions, tunnels and a 
scale model of the now- 
demolished Chepstow 
bridge over the Wye 
River in Herefordshire, 
E land. 
Harvey has been 
interested in railways 
since she was a child. 
She said she much pre- 
terred toy engineering 
sets to dolls. 
She and her husband 
came to Australia from 
Edinburgh 12 yea 
Hgo. 
Their hobb 
iously gan ser. É 
war IT. Mr 
commandiriz officer 
the Regulae Army was = 
a leading authority on _ 
model railways. 
The W.A. Model 
Club, formed about 
Kearg ago. has 20 : 
mem ers ranging from g 
a retired engine driver y 
to teenagers. They meet 
twice a month. 
• There's somethin 
traordinarily satis 
and fascinating a nt 
the hobby, no matter 
what a person's age," $ 
said Mrs Harvey. 
The Haweys are also 
Officemearers of the 
Australian 
Railway 
Historical 
Society, 
which will hold its first 
three•day Reso tour to 
Pemberton next 
Interest in the rail- 
wa S is not Confined to 
waymen. 
Among the society's 
members are an 
tioneer, a chemist, a 
health inspector, an 
accountant, a bank of-E 
ficer and a scientist. 
One enthuiastic mern-' 
ber is Mrs S. D. Bishop, 
Ot Applecross. Wile of 
the society president. 
She boasts ownership t 
of the smallest train in 
the world. The engine 
and trucks together are 
only Ilin, long.
An article from The West Australian, Wednesday, 29 May, 1963 showing the WAMRC layout in the Harvey’s home in Cottesloe.

Sid and Yvette were also members of the Australian Railway Historical Society (now Rail Heritage WA) where Sid was Treasurer from 1961 to 1965 and Yvette was also a strong supporter in the Society. Both were honoured with Life Membership of ARHS before they returned to England.

During their time in Western Australia, Sid worked for Winterbottom Motors, an Agent for Austin and Morris motor vehicles.

Fellow Club Life Member Alan Porter, who knew Sid and Yvette from their Historical Society days in WA, was working in London in 1970 and had heard of a railway group meeting called “Talking Trains” that was being held in Surbiton (a London suburb). Alan attended one of the meetings which had been organised by a gent well connected in railway circles in the UK (John Spencer Gibbs) and he caught up with no other than Sid and Yvette Harvey who were also attending the meetings. At that time the Harveys were living at Kingston‐on‐Thames, near to London.

In 1972 on my first trip to the England, I visited Sid and Yvette at their new retirement home, St. Barbara Cottage, Church Lane, Great Walsingham in Norfolk in late July. “N” gauge was quite new at the time and Sid proudly ran some of his “N” gauge locos on the small layout he had constructed. Yvette too was keen on modelling but her skills were in the scenery side of things, making buildings and trees.

Sid & Yvette Harvey outside their home “St Barbara Cottage” in Great Walsingham, Norfolk, England in May 1973. Photo courtesy of Geoff Higham.

At our Club AGM some years later (in 1980) members discussed the assistance given to the Club by the Harveys and voted to offer Sid and Yvette Harvey Honorary Life Memberships, in appreciation and recognition of the time and work which they both had put in during the Club’s “difficult days” in the early 1960’s.

Mention was made to them in a letter of Albert Vanstan, whom they remembered as “a good Club member”. Albert died in 1978 and his layout (which was bequeathed to Club member Allan Hamilton) found its way to the Club, was incorporated into the public display and called the “Vanstan layout”. On this section of the layout we introduced the very popular “U drive a train” theme where children could drive a train. It was decided that a miniature replica electric staff for the Harveys be for the Elleker — Vanstan section of the layout.

The miniature staff with its timber base was delivered to the Harveys by Alan Porter (then Club President) on July 17 1983, during Alan’s visit to England.

As both Sid and Yvette were not young people when they returned to England, both would now have passed on but I have not been able to establish when they died.


Fast forward to August 2013 when the club was contacted by Mr Steve Walker‐Manuell:

As a collector of railway items and old telephones, I recently purchased a single line staff token, from a secondhand shop, whilst on holiday in Cromer, Norfolk, England. This brass staff has a purpose built stand, and a plaque. This states that it was presented by the West Australian Model Railway Club, to Yvette and Syd Harvey, Honorary Life Members. The staff itself is engraved Elleker‐Vanstan and WAMRC

I am curious about the history of the actual staff itself, and its use, but also by the history of the two named individuals, who I see are sadly no longer with us. I am also curious as to why it should have turned up in Norfolk. I am wondering if it would be of interest to your club. I can send some photos if you like.

Kind regards, Steve.

Steve subsequently sent through these photos of the staff he had found:

The commemorative staff as found by Mr Steve Walker‐Manuell.
Close up of the plaque.

Once the history of the staff was established, Mr Walker‐Manuell was very generous to donate it back to the club for only the cost of postage from England for which we were extremely grateful! The staff has been restored to its former glory and remains on display to this day in our clubrooms.


Footnotes

  1. Sid” or “Syd”? Keen observers will note that Sid Harvey’s name is spelt as “Syd” on the plaque on the commemorative staff. As we believe his proper first name was “Sidney”, not “Sydney”, we have chosen “Sid” as the ‘correct’ spelling for his abbreviated name.
  2. A search of UK death records has revealed a ‘Sidney Harvey’ who died in Norfolk in 1985 and an ‘Yvette Harvey’ who died in Norfolk in 1998. Whilst it is not possible to prove conclusively these are the same people referred to here it does seem likely.