Walking down the Kingston suburbs in Canberra, you will stumble upon a relic of history that tells the story of progress and technological advancement — Canberra Railway Museum.
Since its inception in 1967 and throughout the next 50 years, the Canberra Railway Museum has served the enjoyment of all train aficionados and people of the Australian Capital Territory. The ACT Heritage Council recognized the importance of such a place and registered the Museum in the Heritage Register for its immense contribution to rail heritage.
Thanks to the effort of the volunteers from the area and their workforce, the Museum was able to collect and restore locomotives, preserve the rolling stock and railway memorabilia, and even reinstate old locomotives for commercial trips.
This article will tell you more about the Museum’s current state and its exhibitions, history and collections.
About the Museum
The Museum is located in the former Commonwealth Railways marshaling yard which fulfills the requirement of being connected to the public railway network system and enabling the hauling of heritage tours across the country.
These heritage tours were operated by the vintage steam locomotives which were on the railroads long before the electric ones. You could have a premier experience riding in vintage Pullman carriages with metal ceilings and polished timbers along them, so you could truly appreciate the ultimate craftsmanship of the builders.
Also, the Museum was a place where people could see railway memorabilia and explore the transport history of Australia’s carriages and locomotives. In addition, the Museum housed Australia’s oldest and largest operating steam locomotive, 1210, an engine built in 1878. Another essential artifact from the railroad history is Beyer-Garratt 6029 steam locomotive that weighs 265 tons and is the heaviest locomotive class ever to run in Australia.
However, all these wonderful aspects of the Museum have been stopped for the time being as the Canberra Railway Museum had to be closed down.
Due to a massive debt that accumulated over the years of unprofitable and pricy heritage rides, the Museum was forced to close down indefinitely. Auctions and selling off ensued, including many diesel locomotives, railmotors CPH27 and CPH37, and many of the rolling stock, including the Beyer-Garratt 6029 steam locomotive that now operates other heritage tours across Australia. Unfortunately, vandalism acts and thefts have also been noted, and the one in December of 2017 saw the destruction and stealing of many parts of the iconic 1210 locomotive.
The Revival of the Museum
Luckily for the Museum and the people of the ACT, the railroad enthusiasts decided to do something for the Museum and salvage what remains of it. They established two non-profit companies to take over the Museum, safeguard the assets, and hopefully put the Museum back on its feet soon.