A history of making a difference at the workshops

Workers from the Ipswich Railway Workshop have been fundraising and contributing to social betterment schemes and charities since the nineteenth century. In the past, employees raised money to not only help their fellow shopmates and their families, but also to support the community as a whole.

One of the earliest known charitable events that workers held was a benefit concert in 1885. Workers organised and performed at the Rollo Assembly Rooms in aid of a widow whose husband, a locomotive driver, died after a serious bout of sunstroke. The concert raised a considerable amount of money for the widow.

One of the most wide-reaching benefit schemes was the Railway Patriotic Fund which was established during the First World War. The fund was established to support railway workers who enlisted to fight. The workers’ military pay was often less than their railway pay amounts and the fund helped ‘top-up’ their new pay so the families of workers who enlisted were not financially disadvantaged. As well as donating subscriptions from their fortnightly pays, numerous events were organised by railway workers. A series of boxing and wrestling competitions between Ipswich and Brisbane workers was one of the most notable fundraising initiatives.

A ticket for a Brisbane V Ipswich railway worker boxing and wrestling competition, 1914. QMN Collection.

Workers at the Workshops were also more than happy to help with non-railway-related fundraising. The Ipswich General Hospital, Ipswich Ambulance Brigade and the Ipswich Blind, Deaf and Dumb Institution all benefited thanks to the Ipswich Workshops Railway Benevolent Fund. The fund was established in 1905 and by the early 1940s was receiving over 3000 annual contributions from workshops workers.

Ipswich Railway Workshops workers helped to raise funds for the Ipswich Ambulance Brigade. QMN Collection.

A social club was first formed at the Ipswich Railway Workshops in 1944. The club organised trips and activities for members, and this tradition continues to this day. Since The Workshops Rail Museum opened in September 2002, staff from both the Museum and Queensland Rail have enthusiastically joined the Ipswich Railway Workshops Social Club. Events are scheduled from time to time, but the club’s main focus is fundraising for various good causes.

The Social Club making a donation to the 2003 Queensland Times Christmas Appeal.

The club is a big supporter for men’s health initiatives like Movember for prostate cancer and depression awareness and is a regular participant in the Australia Cancer Council’s Biggest Morning Tea, and the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s Go Pink events.

A Movember fundraising morning tea hosted by the Social Club in the QR lunchroom to help raise awareness about men’s health issues in 2018.
Members of the Social Club dressing in pink to raise money for breast cancer, 2018.

Members of the club take great pride in sponsoring a family annually in the Queensland Times’ Adopt-a-family Christmas appeal. Workers from both organisations donate goods, vouchers and toys every year to help spread some joy to families in need.

All money received from can collections will be donated to this year’s Adopt-a-family drive. By donating your aluminium cans to the social club, you are participating in a 135-year-old tradition of the Ipswich Railway Workshops helping the local community.

Thank you very much for your support! 

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