B181/4 No.771

Stored at ‘The Workshops’ museum, Ipswich


No.771 is located in a storage shed at the rear of ‘The Workshops’ railway museum, Ipswich, as seen in this photo dated 8 October 2004.

The Walschaerts valve gear and connecting rod are temporarily removed, and two rerailing jacks can be seen sitting on the running board.

Alas the five locos stored here have now been out of public view for almost 30 years since closure of the Redbank Railway Museum in 1992.



Ipswich Railway Workshops



Builder’s Number & Year

128 of 1929



Wheel Arrangement




No. in class



The B18¼ Class

The first member of the B18¼ class was No.84, constructed in 1926 by Ipswich Railway Workshops as a prototype and the first ‘Pacific’ 4-6-2 locomotive for the Queensland Government Railways. With a superheated boiler and the Pacific type’s advantage of a wider, deeper firebox than otherwise possible, No.84 proved to be a free-steaming and capable machine, resulting in 16 further production units being constructed by Ipswich Railway Workshops. The B18¼ class were put to work on passenger, mail, fruit and fast freight duties.

Following the success of the first 17 locomotives, design improvements were made and between 1935 and 1947 an additional 66 units were constructed by Ipswich Railway Workshops and Walkers Limited of Maryborough. These later ‘Standard Type’ B18¼ were most easily recognised by a higher welded tender in place of the earlier riveted, flared tender, and a wider ‘Sedan’ cab with sliding windows in place of the straight-sided cutaway cabs of the original 17 units. The Improved Type also formed the basis of the ‘BB18¼ class’ constructed after World War 2, incorporating improvements such as roller bearings, anti-vacuum (snifting) valves and Australian designed SCOA-P wheels which provided greater strength and lower weight. 55 examples of the BB18¼ class were constructed, 35 by Vulcan Foundry and 20 by Walkers Ltd, Maryborough.

The B18¼ class were retired between 1967 and 1970. Preserved example No.771 represents the original type with straight cabside and riveted tender; it entered service with Queensland Railways in April 1929 and was retired in December 1968 after a working life of 39 years. Alas none of the later ‘Standard Type’ B18¼ class remain in existence.

The definitive reference for further information about the B18¼ class locomotives is ‘Locomotives in the Tropics, Volume 2, Queensland Railways 1910 – 1958’ by John Armstrong.

Redbank Railway Museum

While the later BB18¼ class is well represented in preservation, B18¼ No.771 is now the sole survivor of the earlier class. I’m unsure as to why No.771 was selected to represent the B18¼ class among the collection of the former Redbank Railway Museum when more historic example No.84 was still available (as described below). I understand the ARHS Queensland Division provided input to QR for locos to be selected for the Redbank Railway Museum and No.84 was originally preferred by the ARHS, but internal discussions resulted in No.771 ultimately being selected. It was statically displayed at the Redbank Railway Museum from 1970 until closure in 1992, at which point it joined the other former exhibits in storage at the nearby Redbank Workshops pending development of ‘The Workshops’ museum at Ipswich. Unfortunately No. 771 is one of five former Redbank locomotive exhibits which have never been returned to public view, presumably due to the need to remove dangerous old boiler lagging, and has instead remained in a storage shed at the rear of The Workshops museum. These locomotives have now been in storage and inaccessible to the general public for a period approaching 30 years.

The loss of sisters B18 ¼ No.84 & 843

I was always intrigued as to the fate of sister B18¼ locos No.84 and No.843, as both had some use on rail tours – in No.843’s case well in to the 1970’s. Leon Oberg’s wonderful book ‘Locomotives of Australia’ (1982 edition) describes No.84 as retained for enthusiast tours, while the appendix listing preserved locomotives doesn’t mention No.84 but does include No.843 as retained. Alas both locomotives disappeared from later preservation lists. Following recent contributions to this website I now have a better understanding of the circumstances leading to the demise of these two machines.

B18¼ No.84 was the class leader, built in 1926 by Ipswich Railway Workshops (b/n.114) as QR’s first ‘Pacific’ locomotive. It saw some use on rail tours in the 1960’s and was written off in April 1970. No.84 would have been an ideal exhibit at the Redbank Railway Museum or other location, representing the original B18¼ design, class leader and pioneer of the Pacific wheel arrangement in Queensland. It could perhaps have been displayed in its striking original black livery with polished steel boiler and cylinder cladding. No.771 was selected instead and, with no other home offered for No.84, alas it was consigned to the furnace.

B18 ¼ No.843 was built by Ipswich Railway Workshops in 1936 (b/n.149) and officially written off in October 1969. I am informed that it was a favourite ARHS tour loco and initially retained for enthusiast tours, but listed as not necessarily to be kept forever under Railway Commissioner Lee’s policy in the 1970’s whereby the list of active steam locos was to be ultimately pared down to four – BB18¼ No.1079, C17 No.974, and PB15’s Nos. 732 & 738. Alas this policy did not provide for significant maintenance of other steam locomotives not intended for ultimate retention, leading to inevitable failures while on tour duties. Having succumbed to failure in traffic, the QR administration then quickly scrapped the erstwhile tour locos. (The scrapping of Beyer-Garratt 1096 shortly after a 1973 tour failure is probably the prime example of this policy.) No.843‘s last enthusiast trip was on the weekend 26 October 1975 returning from Toowoomba, which saw Driver Ernie Hills bring the loco into Ipswich with a hot box on the fireman’s side cab trailing wheel. Smoke was pouring from that side by the time the train arrived into Brisbane. Alas the required repair was beyond the scope of Lee’s policy, causing No.843 to be summarily withdrawn and quickly scrapped at Ipswich. (Apparently the boiler was laid aside at Ipswich and I believe it became one of the spares later stored at the Rosewood Railway.)



Armstrong, J. 'Locomotives in the Tropics - Volume 2

(Queensland Railways 1910 – 1958 and beyond)’,

published by the ARHS Queensland Division, 1994.


Oberg, L. ‘Locomotives of Australia - 1985 to 2010’ (Fifth Edition),

published 2010 by Rosenberg Publishing Pty Ltd


Information provided by J. Salomon via email,

29 February 2020


Information provided by S. Malone via email,

11 June 2020

Page updated: 14 June 2020

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