C17 No. 720

Named ‘Ken Biggs’ at the Rosewood Railway Museum


C17 No.720 running around its train at Cabanda Station at the Rosewood Railway on 29 March 2015.

The handsome C17 ‘Brown Bomber’ livery of mid-brown with green lining is seen to good effect.

A brass nameplate ‘Ken Biggs’ can be seen attached to the running plate.

My thanks to Jarrod Mitton for contributing this photo.



Walkers Limited, Maryborough



Builder’s Number & Year

348 of 1922



Wheel Arrangement




No. in class



No.720 is one of Queensland Railways’ highly successful C17 class 4-8-0 locomotives of which 227 units were constructed by a variety of builders between 1920 and 1953. The C17’s were a ‘maid of all work’ that were powerful enough for main line freight duties, yet with a low axle load which permitted wide deployment and accordingly they could be found on everything from suburban and express passenger trains to main, secondary and branch line freight and mixed traffic work, although the type are perhaps best associated with Queensland Railways’ (QR) long rural routes. The final C17 class members were retired at the very end of QR revenue steam operations in August 1970.

No 720 is of the original C17 ‘1920 design’ which are identifiable by a straight-sided cutaway cab, tall steam dome, cast iron chimney and a low-sided bogie tender. No.720 has been reboilered at some stage, receiving the 1938 style of boiler with low steam dome, although retaining an older-style cast iron chimney.

No.720 was placed in Queensland Government Railways service in February 1923 and written off 45 years later in August 1968. Following retirement it was placed in a park at Goondiwindi, in the south-west of the state, for the local Apex club.

In 1993, No.720 was donated to the Queensland Branch of the Australian Railway Historical Society (ARHS) and transported to their Rosewood Railway. Here it was dismantled and progressively overhauled by ARHS volunteers, culminating in a return to operation with its first test run at the Rosewood Railway Museum on 10 June 2007. No.720 has been named ‘Ken Biggs’ after a long serving Secretary of the Society and now wears the handsome C17 ‘Brown Bomber’ livery of mid-brown with green lining. It is a regular traffic loco on the Rosewood Railway Museums’ operating days, running between Kunkala and Cabanda Stations on the restored section of the former Marburg branch. This trip includes a stiff uphill climb at 1:50 grade on the return from Cabanda, giving an opportunity for the driver to open the regulator and for No.720 to do some work!

No.720 also features on ‘Driver Experience’ operations at the Rosewood Railway Museums, where visitors can book for a session on the locomotive footplate to learn and experience the art of steam locomotive firing and driving.

I would really appreciate some good action shots of No.720 in action for addition to this page, so contributions are welcome.

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

Newly-restored C17 No.720 in steam at the Rosewood Railway Museum on 29 July 2007 following a full overhaul by ARHS volunteers.

At this stage the boiler cladding was yet to be painted and the rest of the locomotive is in undercoat.

This photo was kindly contributed by Clinton Taylor.

No.720's overhauled boiler is gingerly lowered into the frames at Rosewood Railway Museum by ARHS volunteers.

This photo is courtesy of Matthew McIntosh.

A second view of No.720's overhauled boiler being lowered into the frames at the Rosewood Railway Museum.

This photo is courtesy of Matthew McIntosh.

Another view contributed by Matthew McIntosh showing No.720 with the repaired boiler having just been placed back on the loco chassis.

The restored tender can be seen behind No.720.



‘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.


‘Rosewood Railway Museum – The Remaking of a Railway’

by Greg Cash, published by the

Australian Railway Historical Society, Queensland Division, 1992.

Page updated: 11 May 2019

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