Railway Workshops

The Railway Workshops is a site which contains an extensive complex of buildings and linking rail tracks. A considerable number of these have architectural merit and are heritage listed. Those constructed between 1884 and 1905 were a result of the first major expansion to the northern end of the site.  These buildings include the gable ended brick structures to the north of the Traverser, which although simple and robust industrial buildings, are carefully articulated and detailed in the late Victorian style with bold use of brickwork in projecting plinths, pilasters, corbels, dentil courses and string courses. Some buildings such as the Bogie Repair Shop and Blacksmiths’ Shop feature the restrained use of coloured brickwork.

In the early years of the twentieth century, well designed and finely detailed industrial brick structures such as the Power House, Erecting and Boiler Shops were constructed, completing the intended lateral expansion along the northern and southern sides of the Traverser. These buildings continued the style of the 1880s buildings, some with affinities to Romanesque detail. The final result, when viewed along the strong central axis of the Traverser, is a streetscape of robust brick industrial buildings. Each facade exhibits subtle variations on a simple architectural theme, and although the roof lines vary from simple pitched roofs to extensive saw tooth.

Wagon and Carriage Shop

The Wagon and Carriage shop is one of the larger substantial buildings on site, constructed in 1899, the building is a load bearing brick structure with a saw tooth roof. It presents a rhythmic elevation of arched openings to the traverser. The shop contains a concrete floor with several longitudinal pits under rail tracks. Completed in 1901 with plans approved for the addition of Carriage Foreman’s Office and an overhead travelling crane. Additional sidings were constructed in 1923 to facilitate moving carriages to the shop for repairs. 

DH2 Locomotive

The DH2 locomotive is a Walkers Limited built diesel hydraulic shunting locomotive. Built in Maryborough in 1966, it was given to Queensland Rail to trial in the hope that they would purchase more. By 1974 Queensland Rail had 73 of these locomotives which were commonly used for shunting purposes.

With the closure of many freight yards and the move to longer trains withdrawals started in the 1980s. In the early ‘90s Queensland Rail started selling them off. A large majority of these locomotive ended up in the sugar industry. Currently the project has stopped due to a change of direction with Queensland Rail Heritage, though there are no current plans to return it to working order. 

Rail Motor 64

The RM64 (Rail Motor) was built from a 1938 Ford Truck Body. It still has the original V8 Ford Flathead motor. It was built in this workshop and has a 4-wheel leading bogie and a 2 wheel powered rear axle. This was used by the Commissioner for Railways to travel the network on his inspections.


1200 Series Locomotive

The 1200 class were a class of diesel locomotive built by English Electric, Bradford for Queensland Railways in 1953-1954. 

The 1200 class were rostered to haul The Sunlander between Brisbane and Cairns, The Westlander between Brisbane and Roma and The Inlander from Townsville to Mount Isa. A characteristic addition to the 1200s in 1961 was a sun visor to help reduce glare. As they became due for heavy overhauls in the late 1970s, they were withdrawn.


This is a 2000 class railmotor that operated services around Brisbane as well as being allocated to Mackay, Townsville and Cairns.

In 1956 two 2000 class railmotor prototypes were constructed by Queensland Railways at the Ipswich Railway Workshops sheeted in satin finished aluminium. They were powered by 125 hp (93 kW) AEC engines. One car was a passenger only vehicle with a seating capacity of 54 and the second unit had seating for 42 with a 100 square feet capacity luggage compartment.

These units were very popular being easy riding and pleasant to travel in, even though they were not air conditioned. They were used extensively around the State being equally at home on suburban workings in Brisbane or on country branch lines. They could be operated singly as well as in pairs. The driving compartment was at one end of each vehicle which had a rounded end and no coupling which meant they could only be coupled back to back in pairs. If operating as a single unit the driving end had to be at the front and the unit would have to be turned at the end of its run.

In 1959 ten units were ordered from Commonwealth Engineering. These differed from the prototypes in having sheeted stainless steel and 150 hp (110 kW) Rolls-Royce engines. In 1963 a further five were ordered, followed in 1971 by a further ten. Four of these were of a modified design with flat ends, rather than the rounded driving compartment ends of the original vehicles. They were also fitted with couplers and a buffing plate at each end. These vehicles still contained a driving compartment at one end. This arrangement allowed for two car, three car or four car units to be made up giving much greater flexibility. The intermediate driving trailers, unlike the end driving cars, were not fitted with toilets and were mainly used around Brisbane and on the Helidon co-ordinated service where a higher passenger capacity was required.

All have now been withdrawn from regular service with one set being retained for Queensland Rail departmental purposes such as inspections. One set is based in Cairns for use on the Savannah lander tourist train and another three car set is based at Ipswich Railway Workshops which will be used on The Workshops Rail Museum shuttle from Ipswich Station and occasional special excursions. Several other sets have been purchased by heritage railways in Queensland and New South Wales for operation over their respective lines.

The K Mill

Earlier known as the Northern Saw Mill, it was constructed in 1885. The mill would take the timber broken down from logs in the mill out in the yard (Canadian or Prescott). The K-Mill was set up to mill the planks utilising mortising, planning, boring and jointing machinery. The mill machined all the moldings for the wooden coaches that make up the heritage fleet today.

The staff levels started to drop off towards the end of the 1990’s and the K-Mill was finally closed in the early 2000’s. Some of the machinery has been relocated into the current working area’s. Apart from this, the workshop remains the same as it was the last day it was in operation.

The primary purpose of a railway workshop such as Ipswich is the maintenance of locomotives and rolling stock in use on the railway. The various workshops within the Ipswich Railway Workshops contributed to this overall task. The Boiler Shop repaired and manufactured new boilers, as well as heavy metal shaping. The Wheel Shop prepared new wheel-sets and axles for use and retyred and machines old wheel-sets to the necessary tolerances. The foundry (later became the Bogie Repair Shop) cast metal fittings while the Pattern Shop produced the wooden patterns required to produce the castings and the Machine Shop machined the rough castings to the tolerances required for use. Some of the other shops included the Blacksmith and Spring Shops, the Electroplaters Shop where the chromed door handles, luggage racks and other fittings were produced.


The Sawmill supplied the required timber and the K-Mill used this timber to produce the specialised timber shapes for use in the carriage building and repairs. The Wagon and Carriage shop built new goods wagons and passenger cars as well as undertaking repairs on old rolling stock. Locomotives were dismantled for overhaul in the Erecting Shop. Replacement parts, new boilers were fitted and locomotives reassembled in this shop. New locomotives were also built and imported locomotives were assembled or completed here.

The Tarpaulin Shop

One of the oldest buildings on site at the North Ipswich Rail Workshops, constructed in 1884 as the Carriage Erection Shop, it later became a timber store and paint shop. In 1990 it was being used as the Trimmers and Electroplaters shop and later became the tarpaulin store. 

The Tarpaulin Shop is no longer in use, it has been vacant for some 20 years and all that remains inside are historical railway items such as signage, tickets from when Queensland Rail used a ticketing system and many other bits and pieces including these mimic boards from Mayne Control at Bowen Hills Station. The old mimic panel was in operation from 1979 till around 1990 when it was converted to the new UTC, the signalman’s grade became redundant and was superseded by train controllers who perform the duties to this day from the new RMC building built next door to Bowen Hills Station. Mimic Boards were used for tracking the location of a train from the control room.

Carriage BU 1071

Built at lpswich Workshops and entered service in 1924 as a 2nd Class Suburban Passenger Carriage. It was able to seat 90 second class passengers, on cross bench seats, in nine open compartments with side door loading. BU 1071 was withdrawn from traffic in June 1984, then reinstated into traffic by Queensland Rail, on March 1985. It remained on Queensland Rails books until 1992. It was then sold to the Zig Zag Railway at Lithgow. ln the late 1990’s it was purchased by Beaudesert Rail and returned to service, the Mary Valley Heritage Railway purchased the carriage in 2003. BU 1071 has since been neglected and decaying at Gympie Station.

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