Memorbilla restoration reveals an intriguing history

Monthly news from the Brisbane Tramway Museum and the Ferny Grove Men’s Shed

Baldwin Steam Engine Car: The Belmont Bell is located on the roof. Source acknowledgement State Library of Queensland – John Oxley Library

Yes, we are open again!

As from the 5th July, we are open every Sunday from 1pm to 4pm to take passengers. Naturally, COVID Safety Procedures will be strictly enforced.

Fares are: Adults- $15, Children—$8, Concession—$12 and a Family Pass—$45.

We don’t only restore trams at the museum, we also restore tramway memorabilia.

This story was written by member Warwick Lee about a part of Brisbane’s transport history that most people would have never heard about . . .

The Belmont Bell

The Belmont Bell. Source acknowledgement and photo: Glen Dyer, Archivist BTMS

The restoration of the Belmont Bell is a fitting tribute to long- serving past member Bob Deskins. Bob passed away in 2019 after a long illness.

As a relatively young man, while working in Central Queensland, Bob visited the Isis Sugar Mill where he noticed a bell. He was told it had been removed from a scrapped Baldwin Steam Engine and that the bell was formerly used as the lunch bell for the mill. Bob had a passion for collecting historic rail and tramway memorabilia and was given the bell. His research confirmed that the bell was the original from the Baldwin Steam Engine used on the Belmont Tramway.

The bell remained in his garage until he presented it to the museum shortly before he died.

Belmont Tramway

On the 25th May 1912, the Belmont Shire Council opened the Belmont Tramway line. This line ran from Norman Park station on the Cleveland line of the Queensland Railway to Belmont, with stops at Belmont Junction, Seven Hills, Mount Bruce, City View, Mayfield Road, Carina, Springfield (Baynes Brothers sid-ings) and Bulimba Creek.

Costing £20,000 to build, the line was a light 3′ 6″ gauge railway and 4 miles 25 chains (6.9 km) in length. Top speeds reached 15 mph (24 km/h) but slowed to 10 mph (16 km/h) when crossing bridges. Although the line was 3′ 6″ gauge, the railway line was built and operated under the Tramways Act because only the Queensland Government could operate trains in Queensland.

The Queensland Railways initially operated the line for the Shire but later the Shire operated the tramway with its own engine and cars. It was very expensive to operate with little goods and passenger traffic. The line was closed at the beginning of 1915 and its engines and rolling stock was sold by the end of that year.

Following public uproar, the line was reopened in 1916 by the Belmont Shire Council and was operated by the Queensland Railway with small engines such as the A13. However, the tramway continued to operate at a loss and, due to track and bridge deterioration, the line was closed for the second time in 1924.

In 1925, when the Belmont Shire became part of the City of Brisbane, the line was again reopened following a substantial upgrade. The tramway was operated by the Brisbane City Council, but financial losses continued and the line was permanently closed in October 1926.

Baldwin Steam Engine

In May 1912, the Belmont Shire Council purchased an enclosed Baldwin Steam Engine from the then Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States and three carriages. The Class 1 (Locobase 13755) 0-4-2 engine was built in January 1911 (works number 33935) and was the only one of its type built.

The Baldwin Steam Engine was sold to the Isis Sugar Mill in 1915 and later was acquired by the Queensland Public Works.

The Baldwin Works was a major manufacturer of locomotive engines of all classes and operated from 1825 to 1856 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, before moving to Eddystone, Pennsylvania where it closed in 1972.

Baldwin Steam Engine Composite Car

The Belmont Bell is located on top of the roof of the Baldwin Steam Engine Source acknowledgement: State Library of Queensland – John Oxley Library

Restoration

The bell has been painstakingly restored by new member Laurie Vosper.

Sources

“Belmont Tramway” Accessed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belmont_Tramway on 19 May 2020.

Lianso, S. “Belmont Tramway Company 0-4-2 Locomotives in Australia” Sweat House Media Accessed at https://www.steamlocomotive.com/locobase.

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