1900 - 1950s

The first of PB15 class of engines built at Maryborough by Walkers Limited came into service from 1900.

The PB15 (Passenger B15) class design was based on 19th century locomotive practice. In all 202 engines of this class were built, by Walkers, Evans Anderson Phelan of Brisbane, Kitson & Co. of England, and Toowoomba Foundry, all with Stephenson link motion, with the majority between 1908-1912. This was in response to the major expansion of the Queensland Railways in the period before the Great War, and the need to provide a standard passenger locomotive.

The locomotives were small enough to be able to be hand fired by the fireman, whilst sitting down on the fireman’s seat. However having a small firebox, the fireman needed to be able to be on top of his job, otherwise steam pressure could fall. An additional 30 locomotives were built in 1924 to supplement the locomotive fleet of Queensland Railways after the opening of the North Coast line, and to cope with increasing traffic on the lighter western lines.

Although small, the engines were noted as having a quick turn of speed, and in the early part of the twentieth century, were popular for working passenger trains. They also proved a versatile engine being capable of working goods trains, shunt trains, as mail trains and suburban passenger trains as well.

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In 1919, Mount Morgan railway employees arranged for a special picnic service. The locomotive PB15 No. 348, was the second PB15 in traffic in 1900. The first was PB15 No.347.

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PB15 No.358 was specially turned out in early 1902, to welcome the arrival of the then new Governor of Queensland, Sir H C Chermside.

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The very first PB15 to enter traffic was in December, 1899. PB15 No.356 is photographed here, at Roma Street, probably around 1900-01.

In 1901 the following openings occurred:

• 4 March 1901: Private Chillagoe railway completed Mareeba Mungana
• 2 April 1901: Stuart (Townsville) to Ayr tramway opened by local authorities
• 26 July 1901: New Brisbane Central Station handed over by contractors.

In the history of North Queensland, the name of John Moffat and his mining empire are well remembered. In 1888, the copper deposits around Chillagoe were first prospected by John Moffatt. The Chillagoe Railway & Mines Ltd, Moffatt’s company, sponsored the construction of what was at one time the largest privately owned railway in Australia, as well as constructing a smelter in Chillagoe.

Between 1899 to 1915, 307 miles (510 kilometres] were built by Moffat’s company, connecting with the Queensland Government railway at Mareeba.

The private railway eventually extended to service mines, and company interests at Mungana, Mount Molloy, Mount Garnet, Mount Mulligan and the Etheridge mining field. Falling share and copper prices eventually led to the railway and mining company being taken over by the Queensland Government in 1919.

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During construction work on the Chillagoe Company line, around 1907-8, two of the company locomotives G126 and G33, with the locomotive crew pose for their portraits. Five locomotives were purchased by the Chillagoe Mining and Railway Company of the 2-6-0 type, with three being supplied by the West Australian Government Railways. Queensland Rail Historical Collection

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Brisbane's Central station is opened

Below are examples of marketing materials of the time.


1910 marked the beginning of the largest expansion of the Queensland Railways,

Two major acts were passed through Parliament the North Coast Railway Act, and the Great Western Railway Act, that would link the Queensland railway eventually with a 1043 mile long line on the east coast to Cairns.

The following events occurred in 1910:

• January 1910: First ore train from Forsayth marks completion of Etheridge Railway.
• February 1910: Cairns Mulgrave tramway opens to Babinda.
• 25 April 1910: Extension of Clermont branch to Blair Athol (coal).
• 11 July 1910: Opening of Don (Bowen) to Proserpine Tramway by local authorities.
• 25 July 1910: Opening of branch from Byellee (Gladstone) to Many Peaks.
• October 1910: Renard Road Train begins operating to Texas (1st QR road transport).
• 20 October1910: Opening of Cairns Railway to Herberton.
• 15 December 1910: Extension of railway from Cloncurry to Selwyn via Kuridala.
• 20 December 10 1910: Opening of branch from Tolga to Malanda.
• 21 December 1910: Opening of branch from Kingsthorpe to Haden.

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Renard Road Train engine, photographed around the time of its arrival in Queensland, in 1910.

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Herberton railway station opened in 1910, but here was photographed in the 1930s.

• 1914: Station Garden competition inaugurated.
• 3 February 1914: Extension of Mungar Gayndah branch as far as Mundubbera.
• 15 June: Purchase of Innisfail Tramways (2 foot gauge) completed 15 Feb 1915.
• 13 August: Opening of branch from Dalby to Jandowae.
• 16 December: Completion of branch from Miles to Wandoan.
In February of 1914, Queensland Railways commemorated the 50th anniversary of the beginning of construction of the first section of railway line in Queensland. This section of line from Ipswich to Bigges Camp (today's Grandchester west of Ipswich) opened on 31 July 1865.

In early 1914 then Commissioner for Railways, Charles Evans, had written to the Brisbane Town Council, asking permission for a special exhibit to be placed on show in what was then known as Market Square (today's King George Square).

The special exhibit was definitely something out of the ordinary, "an example of the progress made in locomotive construction..." What was to eventuate was a side by display of what was then the oldest (and smallest steam locomotive) that had survived from 1865 with Queensland Railways, and the largest (and most modern) steam locomotive, with carriages

Given that no railway lines actually led into Market Square, to move the two special trains into their exhibition area took some doing. Temporary tracks were laid in from Roma Street, and the trains placed side by side on display on some short track panels.

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The old and the new side by side in Market Square, February 25, 1914. C18 No.692, and its carriages with A10 No.3 and its four wheel carriages. The year before No.3 had been shunting on the Bowen Jetty, in northern Queensland.

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Before their big day out, in Market Square in Brisbane, C18 No.692, and A10 No.3, were captured side by side in Ipswich railway workshops. Both locomotives travelled together to Brisbane, with their carriages, as part of a special train working.

1918 marked the end of the horrific conflict of the previous four years. One of the few physical reminders of the Great War are the Honour Boards on various railway stations throughout Queensland. They form a record of the contribution of many individuals who volunteered to serve their country from 1914-18.

The first honour boards appeared on railway stations around mid-1915. As the war progressed, Queensland Railways was approached to allow placement of the honour board in a place of prominence, by many local communities. Consequently many railway stations in Queensland became home to these community expressions of pride, grief, and remembrance.

The first Honour Board constructed at Ipswich Railway Workshops was unveiled in October 1915 at Central station. At that stage it listed 500 Queensland Railways employees who had enlisted. By the end of the fighting in 1918, 2500 employees or approximately 16% of the Queensland Railways workforce would enlist voluntarily.

Some of the more impressive Honour Boards honour the contribution of Queensland Railways employees. These include the magnificent examples at Toowoomba railway station (unveiled in mid April 1918), old Townsville railway station, Rockhampton railway station and Warwick railway station (1922). The Warwick one prominently features a steam locomotive in recognition of the local railway workers.

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The magnificent Honour Board unveiled at Toowoomba railway station in April, 1918. When first unveiled in 1918, 210 names were listed on the board.