News from January 2003

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Built by Baldwin

Published recently is this history of E. M. Baldwin & Sons, the most innovative and successful builder of narrow gauge diesel industrial railway equipment in Australia, best known for their introduction to the Australian sugar industry of the 2ft gauge bogie canefield locomotive.
From the mid 1950s Australia’s sugar millers were rapidly replacing their steam locomotives with diesels, with the market split between two large companies – Clyde Engineering Co. Pty Ltd, and Commonwealth Engineering (Queensland) Pty Ltd. The family firm of E. M. Baldwin & Sons would seem to have been a most unlikely competitor. Still reflecting its farming origins with large scale egg production, its small general engineering business specialised in custom designed stainless steel food preparation equipment.
But in 1962 the firm was approached to build a small canefield locomotive, and a year later it started its pioneering work with flame-proofed rail vehicles for coal mining applications. Numerous diesel locomotives followed. The book includes a detailed production list of the Company’s locomotives, and scale drawings of many of its locomotives.
The author has had direct access to the Company’s owners, and to many of the records of the Company, so this is the definitive history and gives much detail on the performance of individual locomotives. The book is published by Australia’s society for Industrial and Narrow Gauge Railways, the Light Railway Research Society of Australia
Hard cover, 160 pages, A4 size, 148 photographs, and 16 diagrams, references, bibliography, and index.
$A44.00 plus postage.
There is currently no British distributor for this book but at current exchange rates, it is a bargain to British purchasers. Further details and an order form can be found at http://www.lrrsa.org.au/Lrr_Pubs.htm

Posted by John Browning on 11 January 2003

Moreton Mill reprieve

The 2ft gauge railway system of Moreton Mill at Nambour, just 60 miles north of Brisbane in Queensland, has been reprieved for a further 12 months. The mill was expected to close at the end of the 2002 season but an agreement between millers and growers has extended operations for a further year. The mill is said to be too small to operate economically and its tramline system serves less than half the cane growing area. A new ethanol plant on a new site is expected to commence operations in 2004 and will almost certainly be served exclusively by road transport.

The mill commenced operations in 1897 and had 75 miles of main line in 2001. A number of uneconomic lines were cut back in 2002. It is normally operated by a Clyde 0-6-0DH (named MORETON), two E M Baldwin 0-6-0DHs (BLI-BLI and PETRIE), and a Baldwin B-B DH (COOLUM). There are also two Com-Eng 0-6-0DHs (DUNETHIM & JAMAICA), two Baldwin 0-4-0DHs (VALDORA & MAROOCHY) and two small Malcolm Moore 4wDMs (JOE & JIMPY) of WWII Australian Army vintage. Preserved at the mill are another Malcolm Moore (SANDY) a John Fowler 0-6-0T (EUDLO) and a Shay (SHAY).

SANDY is the locomotive immortalised in Australian children’s literature as “Sandy the Cane Train”. In more recent times, a new series of children’s books has been produced with “LORRY LOCO” the hero, and the Mill’s COOLUM runs with this identity, complete with face!

The mill normally operates from August to December and is easily accessible from Queensland’s capital, Brisbane. Running in a very attractive area scenically, it is famous for the line that brings all the mill’s cane down the centre of a road through the town centre.

For those unable to visit in 2003, there are still another 22 sugar mills with narrow gauge railways in the 750 miles of coastline from south of Bundaberg to north of tropical Cairns. These have almost 2000 miles on main lines, about 250 diesel-hydraulic locomotives and 52,000 cane “bins”. Truly a modern Narrow Gauge Heaven.

Anyone intending to visit Queensland’s sugar cane lines is welcome to contact John Browning who can provide advice and assistance.

Posted by John Browning on 11 January 2003

Corris Railway has best year since 1930!

In 2002, the Corris Railway?s first operating season since 1930, the railway carried 1,400 passengers between Corris and Maespoeth. This was achieved although trains only ran on Sundays and Bank Holidays from the beginning of June until the end of October, with a single passenger carriage. The Corris Railway Museum also benefited from the re-commencement of services, with a 15% increase in visitors.

With the experience gained from the first year of operations, the railway is planning to more than double its operating days in 2003, with passenger trains scheduled to run over the Easter, May Day, Spring and August Bank Holiday weekends, Sundays in May, September and October, and Saturdays and Sundays in June, July and August. There is also a possibility of running midweek services during August if volunteer train crews are available.

Over the winter, the railway is working to complete its second passenger carriage, a bogie vehicle based on the original design, which is being constructed by Society members in the East Midlands. This will make it possible to more than double the number of passengers on each train. The overhaul of a second diesel loco suitable for passenger trains is also due for completion before the main summer season.

Society volunteers are working on the installation of additional pointwork at Maespoeth, and the connection of all the points at that site to the lever frame installed in the signal box. This is designed to provide more flexibility in train operations. Fettling of the track on the main line, after its first season of service, is also planned. The building of slate facing to the retaining walls alongside the line in Corris, and the completion of the toilet block at Maespoeth, to improve the aesthetic appearance of the lineside and the comfort of passengers, is also underway!

Preliminary construction work on a revised track bed formation immediately south of Maespoeth has commenced, although it will not be possible to extend passenger services southwards in 2003.

The Railway?s re-opening in 2002 was relatively low-key due to uncertainty as to when the requisite paperwork would be completed, and so the official Grand Re-Opening is to take place on Saturday 7th June 2003. Plans are in hand for some very special visitors to be present for the Grand Re-Opening, and full details will be issued once these have been finalised.
For more information visit our web site.

Posted by Peter Bowyer on 30 January 2003

Railway has best year since 1930 ! – 15 January 2003

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Running Narrow Gauge Heaven costs me £20/month. Will you help cover the costs?

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