B13 No.48

Stored at ‘The Workshops’ museum, Ipswich


No.48 stored at the rear of ‘The Workshops’ railway museum, Ipswich on 8 October 2004.

The loco sports a very handsome apple green livery with polished copper boiler bands and red running boards, which I believe it wore at Bingera Mill.

The cowcatcher is a wonderful statement of pioneer and light lines usage.



Dubs & Co.

Glasgow, Scotland



Builder’s Number & Year

1741 of 1883



Wheel Arrangement




No. in class



The B13 class were a mixed-traffic design originating with 19 locomotives supplied by Dubs & Co, Glasgow. These simple and reliable machines had saturated steam boilers that sat low in the frames, with a short smokebox and spartan cab. Following orders from Kitson, Dubs & Co, and Phoenix Engine Co, Ipswich swelled the class to 112 units by 1892, with the later engines differentiated by a lengthened driving wheelbase to accommodate larger fireboxes, and associated higher-pitched boilers. Extended smokeboxes were also found to improve performance. Firebox variations included ‘wide type’ and ‘deep type’ with the latter proving more economic, and accordingly the wide firebox engines were among the earliest to be withdrawn. Indeed six of the wide firebox B13 locos were sold to the Commonwealth Railways for use on the North Australia Railway (Darwin) where they were known as the Ng class. Other B13 class members were rebuilt with deep fireboxes and higher-pitched boilers, with a characteristic high smokebox saddle.

Preserved example No.48 was the fifth loco of the original order of 19 ‘short wheelbase’ B13 locos, entering service in 1883. Most of the class were withdrawn in the 1920’s and 30’s, with No.48 being written off in July 1938.

While Queensland sugar mills generally used 2’ gauge tramways, a number instead adopted 3’ 6” gauge which allowed them to make use of locomotives retired from the Queensland Government Railways. Among these was the Bingera Mill near Bundaberg, owned by Gibson & Howes, which employed an interesting selection of ex-QGR power including an ancient Baldwin 2-8-0 (C13 No.118, built 1879), an elderly 2-4-2T (4D9 No.130) and B13 class locomotive No.49. In 1944 Gibson & Howes purchased No.48, followed in 1950 by No.79, while No.175 was also acquired for spare parts. No.48 and 79 were still working at Bingera Mill as late as 1968 and 1969 respectively, and photos of the period suggest the Bingera Mill’s B13 locos were often sought out by railway enthusiasts.

A handsome brass plaque attached to the cabside of No.48 summarises the locomotive’s history and commemorates the philanthropy leading to its preservation:

Class B13 locomotive

Built 1883 & placed in main line working, Southern & Western Railway, 1883.

Sold to Messrs Gibson & Howes Ltd. Bingera Plantation, Jan. 1944.

Presented to the Queensland Railways for preservation in 1969

by Messrs. Gibson & Howes Ltd.

No.48 was statically displayed among the locomotives exhibits at the former Redbank Railway Museum from 1970 to 1992. The Redbank exhibits later moved to the new ‘The Workshops’ museum at Ipswich Railway Workshops, but alas No.48 is among six Redbank exhibits that were placed in storage at the rear of Ipswich Workshops and have remained out of view since 1992; I believe it awaits removal of dangerous old boiler lagging. Hopefully funds will one day be found to carefully prepare this fascinating survivor for public display within the museum.

The Wikipedia page for the B13 class contains useful technical data for these locomotives.

A thick layer of dust coats the boiler clothes of No.48 in storage at the rear of Ipswich Railway Workshops, as seen on 8 October 2004.

The connecting rods have been removed to permit shunting but the loco appears otherwise complete.

Dainty pot lubricators are fitted to supply oil to the piston rod and crosshead.

The high smokebox saddle can be seen behind the sandbox, and the slender proportions of the tall chimney can be appreciated.

This brass plaque attached to the cabside provides a brief history for No.48.



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

(Queensland Railways 1864 – 1910)’,

published by the ARHS Queensland Division, 1985.


‘Locomotives of Australia’ by Leon Oberg,

published by J. W. Books Pty Ltd


Wikipedia page for B13 class, retrieved 28 September 2020.

Page updated: 20 October 2020

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