While doing some research in our archive last year, I came across a scrapbook of old press clippings from the QT containing articles that ranged from the 1950s to the late 1960s. The railway department had collected any articles that it was mentioned in, whether positive or negative. Everything was in this scrapbook: news about strikes, accidents, recognition of talented staff, wage increases but what I found most interesting was the tale of how an old locomotive found a home in Queens Park.
In 1959, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Queensland, A10 locomotive No.3 – fondly known as Puffing Billy – was displayed at Ipswich Station (it had been on display on Countess St near the Roma St rail yards since the mid-1930s). As the anniversary year was coming to a close a discussion took place between the Ipswich City Council and the railways about building a new permanent home for the locomotive in Queens Park.
The original area the council selected for the locomotive was on the eastern side of Queens Park, near the top of Blackstone Road. Although enthusiasm for the project was high it was obviously difficult for an agreement to be reached between all the parties and by the mid-1960s the only thing that had been decided was a new location on Limestone Hill beside Queen Victoria Parade. There was talk of architectural plans having been drafted but no one had seen them. The participation of certain community groups had also been announced, however they then proceeded to publicly deny any involvement. It was starting to get messy, but the QT kept the issue in the news, putting pressure on both the council and the railways. Finally, after nearly ten years of talks, work began on the structure that would display the locomotive along with two wooden carriages.
The QT once again kept the pressure on in early 1969 when they noted that work had started but then had been abandoned for some time, declaring ‘the site now looks neglected in its environment of rangy grass and straggling weeds.’ The railways blamed the council’s complacency for the lack of progress, while the council assured the QT that the display would be completed ‘well before June .’ June came and went, but finally in November 1969 the locomotive display was ready. The new display was unveiled by the Governor, Sir Alan Mansfield, during the Ipswich Colour City Carnival Week, an event that also saw the releasing of 4000 pigeons from the Queens Park lookout with the QT claiming that ‘pigeon fanciers’ would come from far and wide to see the spectacle. Times were very different back then…
I can distinctly remember the A10 No.3 display in the park as a child and it felt like the end of an era when the locomotive was removed in 1997. But you can’t keep beautiful old machines outside forever and, so it would seem in this day and age, you can’t keep printing a newspaper anymore. With sadness I realise that in the future people probably won’t stumble across musty old scrapbooks full of old paper clippings that are almost transparent because of the glue used. But then I think about a future for historical researchers where everything is online and accessible,where decades and decades of old articles are just a few clicks away and how valuable that will still be.
Collection Manager, The Workshops Rail Museum
Title image caption: Farewell old boy. Removing Puffing Billy from Queens Park in 1997. Photo courtesy of Keith McDonald.