Engines acquired from Chillagoe Railway & Mining Company
The Chillagoe Railway and Mining Company was first formed in 1893 by North Queensland mining magnate John Moffat to exploit tin and copper deposits in the area. The company tried without success to interest the government in building a railway from Mareeba to serve mines in the Chillagoe and Etheridge areas. As a result, the company was reformed in 1899 to provide additional finance to construct these lines which ultimately became the largest privately operated railway in Australia, totalling 307 miles of track. Like many mining ventures, the business experienced mixed fortunes. The mining boom peaked in 1908, but Moffat’s withdrawal from the enterprise in 1912 saw the beginning of its decline. The government took steps to support the concern. In 1910, it bought a locomotive ordered by the Company but now deemed surplus to their requirements. This engine became N°539 and was the highest numbered engine in the B15 class. Then in 1914, it purchased the Company’s 32 mile Mt Garnet Branch. On 19th July 1919, the Queensland Government took over the remaining assets of the ailing Chillagoe Railway and Mining Company which including nine locomotives and various items of rollingstock. Eight of the engines were transferred to the QGR with the other going to the Mines Department and remaining at work at the Chillagoe Smelters. These smelters, which had closed in 1914, were reopened as Chillagoe State Smelters and continued to be used until 1943.
Five of the engines were standard QR design B15 Class and their details are included in that class description.
One engine, Chillagoe N° 1, was built by Baldwin USA for contractor J. A. Overend and Company who used it in construction of the Bundaberg Railway. It later became property of contractors, J Bashford and then J Robb. Moffat acquired it to assist with construction of the Chillagoe line. When the company’s assets were acquired in 1919, the engine was in poor condition and remained stored until 1922 when it was overhauled and placed in service as a shunting engine at Cairns. It was classified as B14 Class and received road N°52.
The other two engines, built by James Martin & Co of Gawler SA, were very similar to South Australian Railways “Y” Class. They were listed at takeover as “A” and “B” rather than N°7 and N°8 on the Company’s roster and were subsequently classified AY Class with road N° 128 and BY Class N° 159. The former engine cost QGR £1450 in 1919 and was later sold to Chillagoe State Smelter in 1923 for £1786. Following closure of the smelters in 1943, the engine lay idle until 1950, when it was again sold for £25 and shipped to Bunning Bros Pty Ltd, Western Australia. N°159 cost £1400 on takeover and was transferred to Innisfail in November 1921 to assist with construction of the North Coast Railway. It later returned to Townsville, where it was written off in 1927.
Baldwin – Baldwin Locomotive Works Philadelphia USA
Martin – James Martin & Co, Gawler, South Australia
Walkers – Walkers Limited, Engineers, Maryborough