4D9 No.131

Inveresk Railway Precinct


4D9 class loco No.131 seen at the Don River Railway on 8 May 2003.

An extension to the original stovepipe chimney has been welded on at some stage.

The bent handrail alongside the boiler suggests this little loco led a hard life after being sold off by QGR.


Dübs and Company,


Builder’s Number & Year

1415 of 1880

Wheel Arrangement



This quaint little engine was built by Dubs & Co of Polmadie, Glasgow in 1880 as the second of two ‘4D9’ class 2-4-2T locomotives for the Queensland Government Railways. Historical photos show these locomotives originally featured a tall cab, a large acetylene headlight and ornate steam & sand domes. The two 4D9 locomotives were allocated to Bundaberg for light traffic duties but were found in service to be underpowered and ineffective.

No.131 was sold by the QGR to Childers Sugar Mill in 1894. It was later resold to the Tasmanian Public Works Department for breakwater construction duties on Tasmania's wild and remote West Coast at Macquarie Harbour, near Strahan. At completion of these works a further two changes of ownership followed, however No.131 remained unused and in store for many years in Hobart station yard. It was eventually plinthed in a Tasmanian park.

No.131 was later acquired by the Don River Railway and transferred to their museum and workshop facility at Don, near Devonport. Here it is statically displayed on a turntable road near the museum entrance. My visit of 8 May 2003 found No.131 cosmetically repainted in ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ blue livery. The surviving locomotive is somewhat incomplete, with missing connecting & side rods, cab, pipework and non-ferrous fittings, yet it is an interesting relic and reminder of the early days of the Queensland Railways. Volunteers at the Don River Railway have achieved miracles restoring several steam locomotives and antique passenger carriages from dereliction and perhaps one day No.131 will similarly benefit from their skill and attention.


During February 2022 the webmaster visited the Inveresk Precinct, an interesting area based on development of the former TGR Inveresk (Launceston) Railway Workshops and including the Queen Victoria Museum in the main workshop buildings, the Launceston Tramway Museum housed in the original tram barn, and other portions of the site now hosting a University of Tasmania campus, sports grounds and stadium. Among the site is an outstation and 2-road loco shed / restoration workshop of the Don River Railway, where I found No.131 completely dismantled as the initial stage of a though (presumably static) restoration. I look forward to following the progress of this initiative.

Here is a scanned print view of No.131 dating from 20 yeas earlier, May 1993, showing her in ‘as received’ condition & livery following many years as a park plaything.
The ancient passenger carriage behind makes for a fitting pair in both age and restoration challenge!

The running board has an attractive step up from the front buffer over the cylinders, but these are covered by angled steel plates.

It seems these were welded into place to reduce trip hazard and cover exposed gaps during the loco’s time as park play equipment.

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No.131 dismantled at the start of restoration, as seen at Inveresk on 29 January 2023.

This photo was kindly contributed by Tristan Verhoeff.

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No.131’s boiler, side tanks and bunker stored in a bogie wagon at Inveresk on 29 January 2023.

To the left are the front and rear pony trucks. The chimney appears to have lost its tall extension.

This photo was kindly contributed by Tristan Verhoeff.

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No.131 dismantled as the webmaster found the loco during a visit to the Inveresk Precinct on 11 Feb 2022.

The worn, bent running boards above the cylinders and the ancient wooden front buffer beam attest to the age and wear of this interesting old loco.



Armstrong, J. 'Locomotives in the Tropics - Volume 1

(Queensland Railways 1864 - 1910)’,

published by the ARHS Queensland Division, 1985.



Page updated: 4 June 2023

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