BB181/4  No.1089

The Workshops, Ipswich


BB18 1089 leads 1079 up the Main Range on the combined ARHS/SunSteam Mountaineer Tour to Toowoomba tour on 13 April 2002.

My thanks to Graham Watkins for contributing this fine action shot.

The BB181/4 class 4-6-2 locomotives represent the final development of one of the Queensland Government Railways' most successful locomotive types.  The earlier B181/4 class had been introduced in 1926 and grew to 83 units for passenger and fast freight service.  A further 55 units were constructed after World War 2 incorporating improvements such as roller bearings and anti-vacuum (snifting) valves, together with Australian designed SCOA-P wheels which provided greater strength and lower weight.  These improved locomotives were known as the BB181/4 class, with 35 constructed by Vulcan Foundry, Lancashire and 20 by Walkers Ltd, Maryborough.

No.1089 was the final of twenty BB181/4 Class 4-6-2 passenger locomotives constructed by Walkers Ltd, Maryborough between 1955 and 1958 and carries Walkers Ltd builder's number 557 of 1958.  No.1089 is notable as the final steam locomotive to be constructed in Australia and also the last to enter service with the Queensland Railways, which occurred in March 1958.  It was retired in June 1969 after a working life of only 11 years.

No.1089 was selected to represent the BB181/4 class at the Queensland Railways Steam Locomotive Museum, Redbank. Together with other Redbank exhibits it was prepared for display and fully repainted before entering the museum, including posing for official portraits which were published as postcards and available for sale at the Redbank Museum.

No. 1089 was displayed at the open-air Redbank Museum from 1970.  The Redbank Museum displayed a worthy locomotive collection but was limited to a static display in a "train park" environment that lacked context, small-exhibits displays and interpretive functions.  Accordingly the need was recognised for a more comprehensive museum to tell the story of rail transport in Queensland, resulting in the transformation of a portion of the Ipswich Workshops into "The Workshops" railway museum.  In 1992 the Redbank Museum was closed and the exhibits placed in secure storage for a number of years before the opening of "The Workshops" museum in 2002.

No.1089 has since been restored to operation at the Ipswich workshops, with its first mainline test run on 12 December 2001.  It has since featured on various enthusiast and historical tours around the Queensland rail network, occasionally double-heading with sister No.1079.  It remains based at The Workshops railway museum, where it benefits from both the excellent workshop facilities and the skills of staff and volunteers that maintain the QR heritage locomotive fleet.

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 postcard portrait of No.1089 as prepared for static display at the former Redbank Museum.




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

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


"Locomotives of Australia - 1985 to 2010" (Fifth Edition), by Leon Oberg,

published 2010 by Rosenberg Publishing Pty Ltd.


Page updated:  29 April 2015

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