From a bustling harbour town to a city of about 40,000 people, Bob Cahill has seen Albany change a lot over his 90 years. Speaking to Inspire, Mr Cahill – who still works as a motor trimmer – spoke fondly of his time on the railroads and working on the land, weaving yarns of adventures had exploring the Great Southern. From the introduction of the diesel engine to his earliest memories of school, Mr Cahill’s passion for Albany and its history is infectious. Mr Cahill and his family have deep roots in the city. “My grandfather was Alfred Thomas Jackson. He installed the clock in the Albany Town Hall,” he said. “When my mum was a little girl, she used to go with him every week to wind the clock up. “In those days, it was manually wound up because the clock ran on weight and the weight turned this big cog that drove the clock. Mr Cahill recalled his earliest memories of Albany for Inspire when we caught up with him in his workshop. “For a short time, we lived in the cottage at Strawberry Hill Farm,” he said. “My mother was a cook for the Bird family, we were not there for very long, just a matter of months, and then we shifted down to Lockyer Avenue right opposite the Woolworths there now. “My mother and father ran a guesthouse there for many years, and that’s where I grew up.” In his early years, Albany was a bustling port town serving the Great Southern region. Industries such as canning and manufacturing operated alongside the deep-water port, shipping the agricultural produce of the region. “The salmon that they used to can there was absolutely marvellous stuff and we had the meat works and the abattoirs,” Mr Cahill said “We also had the wool mills and timber mills for cutting barrel stays for making barrels. “We had a butter factory too, we had a hell of a lot of industry.” During the Second World War, Mr Cahill remembers the American ships and submarines stationed in the harbour and the community concerts in the town hall every Tuesday night. “They had a screen on the stage and they’d project the words of songs on the screen and the band would play them and everyone sang along, it was great.” After the music, Mr Cahill recalled, there would be dancing before supper and entertainment. “A guy would run around with a pocket knife and a candle and he cut up bits of a candle over the floor. “They’d have bags of sawdust with a rope tied to them and that was our job as kids. “We got one bloke to sit on the bag and two or three of us would grab it and pull them around and it would shine up the floor for dancing.” Mr Cahill attended St Joseph’s Church School and after graduating went to work in the railways. In 1948, he worked in the traffic division and as a firefighter on steam and diesel locomotives. He would travel up and down the Great Southern railroad from Albany to Kendenup. His favourite job was hauling goods along the Albany to Nornalup line. “The journey out to Nornalup was one of our best jobs,” Mr Cahill said. “After you left Denmark, you were virtually on your own, because you’re basically out in the wilderness.” Mr Cahill left the railways in 1955 shortly after the introduction of diesel engines. “I’ve always said it was the biggest mistake of my life, I should have stayed with the railways,” he said. From there, he worked at the meat works and on a farm out in Borden before becoming a motor trimmer in the 1970s. Still operating as a motor trimmer, Mr Cahill also restores vintage cars. In addition to a life of many careers, Mr Cahill maintained his family legacy in the horse racing industry. Mr Cahill’s father was a racehorse trainer and used to take his racehorses all over the state to compete. “In 1941, dad went to Bunbury in a horse and cart,” he said. “He walked a horse from Albany to Bunbury and back for the races.” He carried on from his dad and his brother working as a horse trainer in Albany. As ever, he has plenty of entertaining stories to tell about his time in the racing game. “I had a bloke that was a jockey but he didn’t have a licence to ride in races,” Mr Cahill explained. “He used to work the horses for me in the mornings then one day he got locked up. “I knew the welfare officer over there and he said ‘well Bob, Peter (the jockey) tells me he’s working for you’. “Yeah I said and he said, ‘what time does he start?’. “Five o’clock in the morning,’’ I said. “‘Tell you what I will do,’ he said, ‘if you come over to the prison and pick him up at five o’clock in the morning, providing you’ve got him back there at seven o’clock, he can work your horse’. “That’s what I did for quite a while, go pick him up at the jail and work the horse then take him back. “Peter’s favourite comment on the way back was ‘You couldn’t get lost, could you?’.” Bob still lives and works in the Albany area, a true local with a passion for his home.