Enthusiasts vow to fight shock closure of railway museum

By Geoff Courtney

A group of railway enthusiasts in Australia has vowed to fight for the survival of one of the country’s major railway museums, home to a prized collection of UK-built steam locomotives, after its dramatic and unexpected closure in November.

Giant at rest: The massive proportions of 1953-built former New South Wales Government Railways Beyer-Garratt No. 6029 are illustrated in this profile of the 4-8-4+4-8-4 at Canberra on May 16, 2015, shortly after its return to steam following a seven-year restoration. This UK-built giant is at the centre of moves to reopen Canberra Railway Museum, which to the anger of enthusiasts was unexpectedly closed in mid-November. HOWARD MOFFAT

As reported in last month’s Heritage Railway, Canberra Railway Museum closed its doors on November 15, called a halt to all the railtours it operates, changed all the external gate locks, instructed restoration projects to cease, and transferred two steam engines and two heritage diesels to another museum 150 miles away.

One of the locomotives moved was recently-restored No. 6029, a 4-8-4+4-8-4 Garratt built by Beyer Peacock in Manchester in 1953 for New South Wales Government Railways and currently the world’s largest operational steam engine. The other was also a Beyer Peacock product, 1903-built 4-6-0 No. 3016.

The museum was run by the Australian Capital Territory division of the Australian Railway Historical Society (ARHS ACT), which also owned the two locomotives, while on site were three other Beyer Peacock products, 4-4-0 No. 1210 dating from 1878 – an engine of such historical significance that it is listed as a heritage object – 4-6-4T No. 3013 of 1903, and
No. 3102, a 4-6-0 built in 1912.

Read more in Issue 224 of Heritage Railway – out now!

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