Anger as sale of railway museum locos and carriages goes ahead


By Geoff Courtney

A FIERCELY fought campaign by enthusiasts and preservationists to prevent the auction of many of the assets of one of Australia’s leading railway museums ended in failure when the sale went ahead on August 2.

The controversial auction, which included two British-built steam locomotives, took place against a heated background of protests, claims that it was illegal, and an attempt by security guards to eject one of the protesters as he confronted staff.

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Your carriage awaits: Some carriage stock is the centre of attention at the Canberra Railway Museum auction on August 2. The sale raised nearly £250,000, which will go towards settling creditors’ claims following the collapse of the museum and the ACT division of the Australian Railway Historical Society. HOWARD MOFFAT

Held on site at Canberra Railway Museum, the sale was organised by accountancy firm Deloitte, which had been called in to oversee affairs after the closure of the museum last November and the collapse of the ACT division of the Australian Railway Historical Society, which ran the museum and owned a number of its assets.

Within days of the museum’s sudden closure, two of the society’s prized British-built steam locomotives, Beyer-Garratt No. 6029 – which had recently undergone a major restoration – and 4-6-0 No. 3016, were removed and relocated 150 miles away at Trainworks Railway Museum in Thirlmere, south-west of Sydney.

British products down under: With the photographer’s two young sons watching from his 1970 MGB convertible, No. 3102, built by Beyer Peacock in Manchester in 1912 for New South Wales Government Railways, approaches Michelago south of Canberra with a dinner-dance special in the 1980s. The 4-6-0 was sold at auction on August 2 for £22,500, the top realisation in a sale that was surrounded by controversy and protests. HOWARD MOFFAT

Reports emerged that the debts of the ARHS ACT were more than $700,000 (about £425,000), a figure that included about £60,000 owed to employees and £100,000 in tax, prompting a Deloitte spokesman to say: “We need to balance creditors’ interests and the return they are entitled to expect, with preserving and protecting items of historical and heritage significance.”

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