C17 No. 253

Mary Valley Heritage Railway


My visit to Gympie of 26 September 2009 found this dismantled C17 stored at the MVHR’s Gympie workshops.

It is either No.819 (more likely) or No.253 (which may have been in the depths of the workshop).



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 C17 ‘1920 design’ with a straight-sided cutaway cab, tall steam dome, cast iron chimney and a low-sided bogie tender, however 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 year 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) the current 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 once plinthed and hence will carry the name 'Mundubbera' when recommissioned.  Hopefully it will one day restoration will be completed and No.253 find use on the MVHR ‘Valley Rattler’ operation on the branch line from Gympie to Imbil.

Alas I don’t have any photographs that are verified as being No.253, so any suitable contributions for this page are welcome.  News of the status and most recent progress of its overhaul at Gympie would also be appreciated.

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

A second view of the dismantled C17 at Gympie on 26 September 2009; either No.819 or No.253.

An earlier visit to the MVHR on 28 January 2004 found these C17 wheels stored near their Gympie workshops and running shed.

Again, they either belong to No.819 (more likely) or No.253.



"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.


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