PARRY, Ben

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Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2013.

Benjamin (Ben) Parry was born in the United Kingdom and from his early teens tinkered with engines.  This interest continued into his seventies.  He completed his apprenticeship as a fitter and turner with the National Coal Board and worked in the Ashington Colliery where he was trained in steam, petrol and diesel engines.  Many coal mines closed in the late 1960s and when Ben became unemployed and struggled to support his wife and three young children he decided to emigrate to Australia. In April 1968 the family became ‘ten pound’ tourists.  On arriving Ben commenced work in the main rail workshops with the Commonwealth Railways in Port Augusta occasionally working on the famous  Old Ghan train to Alice Springs. In 1969 Ben moved the family to Darwin and worked in the 2½ mile railway workshop as shop steward for several years.  He did rotational rebuilds on the NSU engines and was put in charge of the many derailments, the biggest of which was the Daly Street Bridge. Ben was frequently away up and down the track attending to engine maintenance and derailments.

Ben left the railways in 1973 to work as a motor mechanic.  After Cyclone Tracy, in 1974, Ben was called up by the police to maintain the generation plants at the old Government buildings where Major General Stratton had his disaster headquarters.  He spent many weeks sleeping with the gen sets in a swag in the basement of these buildings. In the mid 1970s Ben was employed by the Northern Territory government as a motor transport inspector at the Goyder Road test shed and he worked for many years as a “scaly” up and down the track as far as Tennant Creek and to the Queensland and Western Australia borders. He was later responsible for conducting the tests and reports on all fatal accidents in the Darwin region and then became the acting senior technical officer where he drafted many vehicle standards and legislation which are still applicable today, particularly for road trains and trailers.

Another of his projects was addressing the safety and legislation requirements needed to introduce solar cars on the Territory’s roads. The authorities were concerned that the lightweight cars could be sucked under the huge road trains. That did not happen.Ben’s great passion was the restoration of vintage vehicles and he spent every waking moment tinkering and manufacturing parts for his latest project. Whilst working so long with machinery he developed industrial deafness and relied on a stethoscope when listening to motors.  He also lost the sight in his right eye but nothing stopped him and he decided to name his business “Blind as a Bat Autos” or Rough as Guts Autos.” Ben’s vast mechanical knowledge and attention to detail resulted in always being in great demand as the ultimate fixer of motoring ills.