Workshops staff with train

History of Queensland Museum Rail Workshops

The Ipswich Railway Workshops are considered the birthplace of rail in Queensland and a landmark icon for industry in the region.

The original rail Workshops commenced in 1864 about 1.5 kilometres away from where the current museum stands, and the very first train to run in Queensland steamed from there to Bigges Camp (now Grandchester) on the 31 July 1865.

The area was quickly out-grown and operations moved to the current site in the mid 1880s, reaching full operation in 1903. The complex was massive and for decades, operated as the epi-centre of rail construction, maintenance and technology for Queensland’s burgeoning rail industry.

Generations of blacksmiths, carpenters, painters, metal workers and other craftsmen built and repaired locomotives, wagons, carriages and rail motors. At its peak, the Workshops employed 3,000 men and women, mostly from Ipswich and surrounding areas, making it Queensland’s largest employer. Over 200 steam locomotives were proudly constructed on site and Australia’s oldest working steam locomotive is proudly showcased there today.

New life was given in 2002 when Queensland Museum Rail Workshops opened featuring 15 larger-than-life exhibition spaces that showcased the social, technical, and cultural impacts that rail transport and travel have had on our lives.

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