C17 No. 996

Mary Valley Rattler, Gympie

A scanned photo view of No. 996 with ‘Southport Express’ headboard on its plinth at The Broadwater during March 2001.



Walkers Limited, Maryborough



Builder’s Number & Year

533 of 1953



Wheel Arrangement




No. in class



No.996 is one of Queensland Government 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’ type 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 the long rural routes through Queensland Government Railways’ (QGR) Northern and Central Divisions. The final C17 class members were retired at the very end of QGR revenue steam operations in August 1970.

No 996 represents the final ‘1950 design’ of C17 which featured Timken roller bearings on all axles, together with the ‘1938 design’ improvements of piston valves, Laird crossheads, a wider & taller sedan cab with sliding windows, a slender stovepipe chimney with capuchion lip, and a higher-capacity tender. It is one of the final 40 C17’s known as ‘Brown Bombers’ due to their original livery of handsome mid-brown with green lining.

No.996 was placed in Queensland Government Railways service during May 1953 and written off in April 1970 after a working life of nearly 17 years. Following retirement it was placed in a park near The Broadwater, close to the location of the original Southport railway station, with ownership transferred to the Gold Coast City Council. As displayed at The Broadwater, No.996 provided a reminder that this fast-growing and populous area of South-East Queensland was once connected to the QGR network via a lengthy branch to Southport (closed 1964), together with a sub-branch to Tweed Heads (closed 1961). After many years of community agitation to reinstate a rail link, the region is now served by a modern commuter route known as the Gold Coast Railway, augmented by the G:link Light Rail System which opened in 2014.

No.996 was acquired by Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway and transferred to their Swanbank / Box Flat site on 22 June 2005, where it was placed in secure undercover storage in their running shed. Hopefully at some stage in the future sufficient funds and manpower can be found for full restoration of this fine locomotive.

UPDATE: I understand No.996 has now been sold to the Mary Valley Rattler, for use as spare parts in the overhaul of No.967.

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

A second view of No. 996 at The Broadwater, Southport in March 2001.

The old loco seems to be reminding the passing motorists of the former railway presence at Southport!

A modern commuter railway has since been built to the Gold Coast, providing a replacement for the pioneer branch line closed in 1964.

A third view of No.996 when displayed at The Broadwater.

Various additional steps and handrails had been added for playground duties, including a railing along the running board.

No.996 safely stored in the QPSR running shed at Swanbank.

It is still wearing the ‘Southport Express’ headboard and the railing along the running board from its days on The Broadwater.



‘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.


Information table provided by Graham Wilson

(Operations Manager, Heritage Rollingstock & Component Services, QR)

at our meeting of 8 October 2004.


Information provided by P. Shepherd via email dated 17 June 2019.


Page updated: 20 October 2019

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