C17 No.253

Mary Valley Heritage Railway


Frames & chassis of C17 No.253 stored under a tarpaulin. 18 December 2020.

The chassis of C17 No.253 stored within the MVHR workshops at Gympie on 18 December 2020.

My thanks to MVHR volunteer Declan Goggan for contributing this image.



Evans, Anderson, Phelan & Co,

Kangaroo Point, Brisbane



Builder’s Number & Year

158 of 1921



Wheel Arrangement




No. in class



No.253 is one of Queensland Railways’ highly successful C17 class ‘maid of all work’ 4-8-0 locomotives, with 227 units constructed by a variety of builders between 1920 and 1953. The ‘C17’ classification follows Queensland Railways’ nomenclature whereby ‘C’ denotes an 8-coupled locomotive and ‘17’ references the cylinder diameter (in inches). The C17 design featured a superheated boiler and was developed from the earlier saturated steam C16 type. The final C17 class members were retired from service at the very end of Queensland Railways revenue steam operations in August 1970.

No.253 is one of the older C17’s, built to the original ‘1920 design’ with a straight-sided cutaway cab, tall steam dome, cast iron chimney and a low-sided bogie tender, but at some stage it received the more modern ‘1938 design’ boiler with low steam dome and stovepipe chimney. It was placed in service by the Queensland Government Railways in June 1921 and written off in June 1967 after 46 years of work and 1.58 million kilometres travelled. Upon retirement, No.253 was plinthed in a park at Mundubbera (inland from Bundaberg) on behalf of the Mundubbera Junior Chamber of Commerce.

This particular C17 locomotive is unusual in that it carries a second sand dome; the normal one at the fore of the steam dome, and a second dome to the aft. The second sand dome had been fitted to assist working on the Yandaran line, which did not have a turntable and hence allocated loco No.253 had to work tender-first on the return trip from Yandaran.

After many years at Mundubbera, a change in circumstances came in March 2003 when No.253 was acquired by the Mary Valley Heritage Railway (MVHR) in a swap with C17 965. Apparently, No.253 was in good condition despite its years as a park locomotive, having received a heavy rebuild less than 12 months prior to retirement. No.253 was reported as being under restoration at the time of my visit to the MVHR in 2004, however a return to steam in the foreseeable future seems unlikely given their substantial stable of three operable C17’s (Nos.45, 802 and 967) and recent challenges at the MVHR. It is intended that No.253 will follow the MVHR custom of being named after the town it which it was formerly plinthed and will hence carry the name 'Mundubbera' upon recommissioning. Hopefully one day restoration will be completed and No.253 will find use on the MVHR ‘Valley Rattler’ operation on the branch line from Gympie.

Further news of recent progress with No.253’s overhaul at Gympie would be appreciated.

For further information about the Queensland Railways’ C17 class locomotives, refer to the page for C17 No.2.



‘Locomotives of Australia’ by Leon Oberg,

published by J. W. Books Pty Ltd


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

(Queensland Railways 1910 – 1958 and beyond)’,

published by the ARHS Queensland Division, 1994.


Locomotive information sheet provided by the

Mary Valley Heritage Railway, 28 January 2004.


Information provided by Graham Watkins via email

dated 25 May 2003.


Information provided by Declan Coggan via email,

20 January 2021

Page updated: 11 April 2021

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