B12 No.31

Last used by the Aramac Tramway

 

 

Photo required

Builder

Avonside Engine Company, Bristol

Builder’s Number & Year

1179 of 1877

Wheel Arrangement

2-6-0

 

No.31 was one of three additional locomotives to join the Queensland Government Railways' B12 class of 2-6-0 tender engines. Interestingly it also carries the Fairlie builder’s number 587 of 1877 as the order was actually taken by Robert Fairlie while on a sales visit to Queensland, but subcontracted to Avonside Engine Co for construction. 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 a 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 paired 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.

A1 was condemned in 1939 and the boiler removed from frame. Photos show that the outer firebox was cut away and the copper inner firebox scrapped, but the rest of the locomotive remained largely intact at Aramac. Further photos dating from 1963 show 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. At my visit to the Kallangur site in 2003, the owner of No.31 / A1 showed me a handsome brass numberplate ‘No.31’ that 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, but they are presumed to have moved together with the collection to the owner’s new site at Narangba. Alas the owner has since passed; any further news and photos for these remains would be appreciated.

A visit to Aramac by Shane O’Neil in July 2018 (as described in an article in Railway Digest magazine of October 2018) confirmed that the frames, wheels and complete tender of No.31 / A1 remain at Aramac.

Peter Bell & John Kerr have written an 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

‘Railway Digest’ magazine – October 2018

(Volume 56, Number 10), published by the

Australian Railway Historical Society NSW Division,

Article ‘No, Not FNQ this time, but a Central Queensland Tour’

By Shane O’Neil (p40 – 47).

 

Page updated: 10 November 2018

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