The Story of John Webber L.S.


John has made a very generous donation of his survey and drafting equipment to this virtual museum and I outline John’s professional career with a few of his memories. The various donated items are further described in detail under their relevant categories in the Menu selection.
John was born in 1932 as the oldest son of Phyllis and Henry Webber.
He attended Homebush Boys High School to Leaving Certificate, then completed the Study of Surveying at Sydney Technical College.
A partial Civil Engineering Course was completed until he was transferred to Singleton as an articled cadet to Mervyn Middenhall of NSW Railways. During this time John was also articled to a private surveyor to gain experience in that field.
John reflects back to his accommodation in Singleton which was initially a 10 x 12 foot tent covered with a canvas fly with “duckboards” underneath. Later accommodation was provided in galvanised iron huts, which like the tents were very cold. He remembers running up and down the Railway yard to try to keep warm but that didn’t even help.
Camp conditions were very basic with “ Hurricane Lamps” being used and “ Monty” the cook’s menu was limited to cold milk on cornflakes and inedible sausages.
At that time, surveyors were required to purchase their own equipment . John acquired a loan and purchased his secondhand equipment from an engineer. ( Author’s note : The theodolite and level that John purchased were over 40 years old at that time).
The Department of Railways paid an allowance of four schillings and threepence per working day and this allowance had not increased in over 30 years !!
A typical working day was to carry the equipment weighing 30 kgs up hill and down dale and through the bush to a work site. Then, after the evening meal, spending two or more hours reducing levels or theodolite readings taken that day.
After John became a Licensed Surveyor at 22 years of age he was sent to country areas such as Condobolin and Albury and when he eventually returned to Sydney he worked on Control Surveys for the Eastern Suburbs Railway and other metropolitan projects and retired as Principal Surveyor for the New South Wales Railways in 1996.