Top railway museum to reopen after rescue by new owners

By Geoff Courtney

ONE of Australia’s leading railway museums, which was for many years home to a number of British-built steam locomotives including one of the world’s largest operational preserved engines, has been saved nearly two years after its dramatic and unexpected closure.

Canberra Railway Museum closed in November 2016 following the financial collapse of the ACT division of the Australian Railway Historical Society, which ran the museum.

Edwardian survivor: Former New South Wales Government Railways’ C30T class No. 3016 heads a train of end-platform carriages on a railtour in Molonglo Gorge near Queanbeyan, NSW, in September 2014. The 4-6-0, built by Beyer Peacock in Manchester in 1903, is one of two steam locomotives that are part of the rolling stock at Canberra Railway Museum which has been saved by a heritage railway company after being shut down nearly two years ago. HOWARD MOFFAT

As volunteers, preservationists and enthusiasts reeled from the sudden closure, two of the society’s prized Beyer Peacock-built assets, Garratt 4-8-4+4-8-4 No. 6029 and 4-6-0 No. 3016, were hurriedly relocated by officials to another railway museum 150 miles away.

Amid reports that it had debts of at least £425,000, the society was placed in provisional liquidation and global accountancy firm Deloitte was appointed administrator to oversee affairs, with its first move being the transfer of the two engines. In August last year the firm held a controversial auction on site, despite attempts by enthusiasts to halt proceedings, and nearly £250,000 after costs was raised to be used to help settle creditor claims and other liabilities.

Among the assets sold were 4-6-4T No. 3013 and 4-6-0 No. 3102, built for New South Wales Government Railways by Beyer Peacock of Manchester in 1903 and 1912 respectively, an 1800hp Co-Co diesel, a 35 ton steam crane built by Ransomes & Rapier of Ipswich in 1915, and a variety of rolling stock including carriages.

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