5 minutes with Rob Shiels, Collection Manager from The Workshops Rail Museum

Today’s #CouchCurator is the Collection Manager from The Workshops Rail Museum – Rob Shiels who is sharing some of the most interesting items from his collection, along with his favourites. 

Rob Shiels, Collection Manager, The Workshops Rail Museum

Railways are a fantastic area of research because they have had such a profound impact on the way the world has developed since the mid-19th Century. In Queensland numerous towns and communities owe their origin to the laying of the railway throughout the state.  Being a Collection Manager at The Workshops Rail Museum is a very rewarding job because you get to work with history everyday. I’m a real history buff and everyday I get to learn about how things worked and use to be. That history in turn translates into a better understanding of why things are like they are today because of who we use to be in the past.

What is your favourite object in the collection and why?

My favourite object in the collection would have to be the Hunslet Locomotive No.327 because I oversaw the restoration of the locomotive from 2012 – 2018 and I feel extremely proud to have been involved in the project. It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to return a 100-year-old locomotive to its original appearance.

What is the rarest item in your collection?

The most rare item would have to be the Silk Address, it’s the Inauguration of the Works of the First Queensland Railway. It marks the actual beginning of building the first railway in Queensland – it doesn’t get anymore important than that for us at the railway museum.

What is the most common item in your collection?

The most common is pay tins. Everyone had one in the railways, and gee we must have nearly all of them. This tray of pay tins was used at the Central Division pay office in Rockhampton.

What is the biggest item in your collection?

The largest object is the English Electric 90 ton Diesel

Do you have an interesting fact to share about something in your collection?

It took on average 300 hours for German model locomotive company Bockholt to make each of their models. There are over 40 different Bockholt models in the T-House Collection. Here’s a fine example.