B12 No.31

Last used by the Aramac Tramway

 

 

(Photo required)

No.31 was built by Avonside Engine Company of Bristol (builder's number 1179 of 1877) as one of an order for three additional locomotives to join the Queensland Railways' B12 class of 2-6-0 tender locomotives. Interestingly it also carries the number Fairlie 587 of 1877 as the order was actually taken by Robert Fairlie while on a sales visit to Queensland and subcontracted to Avonside Engine Co for construction. a   The B12 class was clearly a successful design for the Queensland Government Railways as the class eventually grew to 25 examples from a range of builders.  These handsome locomotives featured Salter safety valves and a prominent lattice headlight stand atop the smokebox to support the large acetylene headlight.

No.31 was sold by the Queensland Government Railways in 1911 to the Aramac Shire Council for operation on their Aramac Tramway, a 41-mile line linking Aramac in central western Queensland with the QGR at Barcaldine.  For sale it was fitted with a larger Baldwin-designed bogie tender from an A12 class 4-4-0 passenger locomotive in order to increase its range.  No.31 was renumbered A1 on the Aramac Tramway. a

A1 was condemned in 1939 and the boiler removed from frame, with the outer firebox cut away and copper inner firebox scrapped.However the rest of the locomotive remained largely intact at Aramac with 1963 photos showing the boiler shell lying alongside the complete loco chassis and tender.

The remains of this historic locomotive were subsequently privately purchased and the boiler shell, wheels and cylinders moved to Kallangur, near Brisbane, while the locomotive and tender frames remained at Aramac. c   At my visit to the Kallangur site in 2003, the owner on No.31 / A1 showed me a handsome brass numberplate for No.31 had been cast and machined.  I also observed the boiler shell with the distinctive latticework headlight stand visible.  The current disposition of these remains are now unknown to me, following sale & redevelopment of the Kallangur site in 2007; any further news and photos would be appreciated.

Peter Bell & John Kerr have written an very authorative history of the Aramac Tramway and its locomotives, including several photos of B12 No.31 / A1 in operation, in storage and later derelict at Aramac.  For further information about the B12 class and other early Queensland Government Railways locomotives, readers are directed to the excellent publication "Locomotives in the Tropics - Volume 1" by John Armstrong.

 

References

 

a Armstrong, J. 'Locomotives in the Tropics - Volume 1 (Queensland Railways 1864 - 1910), published by the ARHS Queensland Division, 1985.
b Bell, P. & Kerr, J., 'The Aramac Tramway' published Melbourne 2002 by the Light Railway Research Society of Australia Inc.
c Information provided by Mr. G. Chapman during our meeting of 12 April 2003.
d Webmaster's observation or comment.

 

Page updated:  22 January 2013

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