BB181/4  No.1037

Mackay Heritage Railway Inc.


No.1037 stripped to the frames for overhaul at Mackay.

This view is dated approximately 2004 and was kindly contributed by Peter Ford.

No.1037 is a survivor of the Queensland Railways modern BB181/4 class 4-6-2 passenger locomotives.  The BB181/4 class was an improved version of the earlier 181/4 class and were employed on longer-distance passenger and fast freight turns, together with extensive use on Brisbane commuter services.

The unusual class designation 'BB18 1/4' comes from the QGR practice of describing 'B' for 6-coupled engine, 'BB' etc for improved design, and the class number (18 1/4) from the cylinder diameter in inches. Similarly, 'A' denotes 4 coupled wheels, 'C' denotes 8 coupled wheels, and 'D' denotes tank locomotives!  Beyer-Garratt articulated locomotives were too hard to classify; they were simply known as 'Garratts'!

No.1037 was constructed by The Vulcan Foundry, Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire as their builder's number 5963 of 1950.    It entered service with Queensland Railways in July 1951 and was retired from Mackay in March 1970, becoming the last QR steam engine in service in the region.

Following withdrawal from service, Queensland Railways made No.1037 available for display at Mackay and it was placed on display at the old Mackay railway station.

Around 2000, Queensland Railways donated No.1037 to a group of local rail enthusiast (known as Mackay Heritage Railway Inc.) for restoration to operation.  It was transferred to their storage shed and workshop in the Mackay Harbour precinct, where overhaul is progressing as manpower and funds permit.  I understand that No.1037 has been converted to oil burning (with a removable oil tank in the coal space, such that the loco could revert to coal firing in the future) and will also be fitted with auto-couplers.  (The Mackay Heritage Railway group also have sister locomotive No.1086 in storage.)

Further information about the Mackay Heritage Railway group and their progress with No.1037 is welcome.

An excellent reference for further information about the BB181/4 Class locomotives is "Locomotives in the Tropics, Volume 2, Queensland Railways 1910 - 1958" by John Armstrong.

A fine view of 1037 at Caboolture on 4 October 1970, with thanks to Anthony Winstone for contributing this photo.

Interestingly this view was taken after 1037's withdrawal, so presumably it was an enthusiast train or other special outing.




Armstrong, J.  'Locomotives in the Tropics, Volume 2, Queensland Railways 1910 - 1958,

published by the Australian Railway Historical Society -Queensland Division, 1994.


Page updated:  19 February 2015

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