THE BULIMBA OR NEWSTEAD BRANCH RAILWAY, BRISBANE
This article comments on the article entitled "Brisbane's Newstead Branch" by Rod Milne in Australian Railway History for October 2005, p 403. The comments are first, corrections to what was written, and second, material which a history and description of that branch line should have contained.
The correct name of the line was the Bulimba branch. I use Newstead in the title so that web browsers will find it. I do not repeat the title used in ARH because the line was of or in Brisbane, not owned by it as the apostrophe s implies..
Some Geography and History
Rod Milne says that this line carried the curious misnomer of Bulimba Branch. He goes on to say that it is curious that the QR used the name Bulimba for the line, as the suburb of that name is actually located on the opposite side of the river.
The name was not a misnomer at all. Rod Milne obviously made no investigation of the subject before pronouncing it to be such.
When the railway was planned, it was intended to run to the new CSR Refinery at Bulimba, and mostly through Bulimba. See the geographical references to the intended line in the 1895 Votes and Proceedings (of the Queensland parliament), and the 1896-7 and 1897-8 Annual Reports of the QR Commissioner. At that time, Bulimba covered an area on both sides of the river, from Fortitude Valley to Newstead on the north bank, and from opposite Newstead to where Bulimba Creek enters the Brisbane River about Doboy on the south bank. When the branch was built and for many years after, the area of the wool stores along the line, between Commercial Road and Merthyr Road, was Bulimba. In the 1920s, the companies which owned those stores gave their postal addresses as Bulimba. A 1960 road atlas I have shows the area south of Newstead goods yard, on the north bank, to have been called Bulimba (as well as the area opposite it on the south bank). Near where Bulimba Creek enters the river were the Bulimba A and B power stations, located between Murarrie QR station and the river. Those power stations retained those names until they closed, and a large electricity sub-station now on their site, is still named Bulimba.
The name Teneriffe for a pocket of Bulimba on the north side, near the western terminal of the Bulimba Ferry, existed from the 1880s if not earlier. When Newstead goods depot was planned, it was referred to as being at Bulimba (see 1921-22 QR Annual Report). When the goods depot was opened in 1923, however, it was given the name Newstead, to distinguish it (in QR terms) from Bulimba, the area beyond Commercial Rd on the branch (see QR Weekly Notice 15/23). Had the name Newstead not been available or suitable for the goods yard, the QR could have called the place Wyandra St or Commercial Road.
On p 403 Rod Milne has it that Newstead was the only properly gazetted name on the branch. What does that mean? No references are given in the article to gazetting any of the place names, or any other authority for them. Bulimba was the name for the area traversed by the branch, and was of equal standing as a name to Newstead, which prior to the QR using the name for its goods depot, applied only to the area north of that yard up to Breakfast Creek.
(See also letter from Bill Henderson in Sunshine Express for Nov 2006 on the subject of the name of the area. That letter was sent to the editors of ARH but not published.)
To the QR therefore the line considered in the article was the Bulimba branch. That name appeared in all its instruction books. The name Newstead applied to the goods depot and Newstead Wharf only, and those names are used in the maps on pp 421 and 422. The maps on p 419 should have had the words Bulimba Branch in both the heading and the arrowed marker in the Locality map. Similarly the map on p 420 should have Bulimba Branch as its heading.
The branch originally ran from Brunswick St, as a single line parallel to the North Coast Line (NCL), now the northern suburban line at that point, swinging east from that line at the future site of Bulimba Junction. In 1914, an approach to the branch was provided from the NCL to the north, with the junction at the south end of the platforms at Bowen Hills. A direct junction was made with the NCL where the original location of the line from Brunswick St swung away from the NCL, in addition to the line from Brunswick St. These changes gave a triangular junction from the NCL to the branch. The interlocked signal cabin, known as both Bowen Hills Junction and Bulimba Junction, was provided there then.
On p 405, after referring to the junction for the line as Bulimba Junction, Rod Milne says that later timetables persisted in calling the location Bowen Hills Junction as well. He is right that both names existed for the same junction, but that was corrected well before the line closed; in any case, his point is not clear. The cabin was called Bulimba Junction, that name is used in plans of the line, and in instructions in the General Appendix (GA). In the pages of the Suburban Working Timetables (WTT) giving the timetables for Suburban Goods and Coal Trains, and in the list of times for the cutting in and out of signal cabins, the name Bowen Hills Junction was used for many years, but between 1953 and 1962, it was changed to Bulimba Junction in the WTT for both those purposes.
The signal cabin is just visible behind the three aspect colour light signal on the left of the photo on p 406.
After 1936, Bulimba Jct was not involved in the signalling of trains on the NCL, which became automatic colour light that year. Only when a train was to run from that line to or from Newstead did it intervene in the signalling on the NCL, presumably after consulting the cabin at Mayne. Track circuits in the automatic signalling no doubt prevented the setting of the junction when trains on the NCL could not be stopped before being affected. The movements to and from the branch were indicated by semaphore signals.
The signal cabin at Brunswick St was not continuously manned, and in later years not manned at all. It was provided until the late 1950s that if it was necessary to open the cabin at Brunswick St when the signalman was not in attendance, the signalman at Bowen Hills (Bulimba) Junction was to cut out that cabin, and proceed to Brunswick St to operate the cabin there. Thereafter, should it have been necessary to open Brunswick St cabin, the Station Master was to attend to it. After November 1964 , the junctions and signalling at Bulimba Jct were operated remotely from Mayne, and Bulimba Jct cabin was closed (WN49/64). Most trains to the goods yard at Brunswick St (on the eastern side of the line there) came from Newstead and used the third road between Bulimba Junction and Brunswick St.
Newstead Goods Depot was opened to relieve the small yard at Brunswick Street, as well as Roma Street. Brunswick St was one mile (1.6 kms) from Newstead in a straight line, and Roma St two miles (3.25 kms). Newstead dominated Brunswick St thereafter, handling three or four times the traffic immediately postwar, although a much lower multiple as the years went by until Brunswick St closed as a goods yard. Roma Street handled up to ten times the volume of traffic handled at Newstead. Considerable goods traffic must have passed Newstead on road en route to or from Roma Street. Even then, a large proportion of the Newstead tonnages was private siding traffic.
There were some rules about the allocation of the traffic to Newstead. In 1925, coal, timber, bricks, firewood, kerosene, benzine and oils were not to be accepted at Brunswick St. They were to go to Newstead, but at Brunswick St rates. In 1935, those traffics were accepted at Brunswick St in truck loads. In 1925, no hides and skins were to be accepted at Newstead, but they were accepted there in 1935, as was tallow. Full truck loads of wool were to be sent to Bulimba, to the sidings of fourteen wool handling firms. Wool in less than full wagon loads was to be sent to Roma St, later to Newstead. This was later changed to consignments of less 14 bales having to go to Newstead. Otherwise, I do not know whether the QR applied any rules to the general acceptance of goods traffic at Newstead.
Newstead was provided with an 80 tons capacity wagon weighbridge. By 1950 this was rated as 60 tons, then the highest on the system. There were no wagons of 60 tons gross on the QR at the time, or for some time later. The weighbridge was probably never used to its capacity.
Newstead was a public goods yard. All goods yards of any size had a goods office (p 410).
The New Farm Wharf tram, terminating in Macquarie St, ran past the Hawthorne Ferry, which ran between Merthyr Rd New Farm and Lindsay St Hawthorne (map p 421).
The wharves known as Mercantile, Dalgetys and New Farm followed the coming of the branch, with Newstead Wharf coming late, in 1938 (as is recorded in GAs and WNs). There were also specialised use wharves at the Sugar Refinery and at the Power House, and the stages at which the several oil companies discharged petroleum products to their depots in the area. The Bulimba Reach was very busy until the late fifties, not only with traffic to and from these wharves, but with vessels passing, those which went farther upstream, to the City and South Brisbane wharves.
The power house opened on 27th June 1928. It replaced tramways power houses at Countess St, City, Light St the Valley and Logan Road Wooloongabba. The first and third of those were previously supplied by coal by the QR, but Light St was powered by gas (see G R Steer, Brisbane Tramways, History and Development, Historical Society of Queensland, paper read 28 August 1943. On the Logan Rd station and the electric locomotive used there, see the Wooloongabba branch page on this web site). The New Farm power house also supplied other users of the Council's electricity supply.
Pages 419 to 422 of the original article contain excellent maps of the line. The scale of the maps on pp 420-1-2 is about 1 in 5250 from Bulimba Jct to Breakfast Ck Rd, and about 1 in 4350 beyond.
The most significant aspect of working from Newstead to Bulimba Junction resulted from a characteristic of the line which is entirely missing from the article, the gradients between Bulimba Junction and Newstead. The article merely says that the line dropped down from the junction to Newstead.
On the southern leg of the triangular layout at Bulimba Junction, from the NCL there were three chains of vertical curve down, then nine chains of 1 in 50 down, then five chains of vertical curve down, and eight chains of 1 in 500 down. The curve on this leg was eight chains radius. The trailing junction with the Bowen Hills leg occurred along the 1 in 50.
The northern leg of the junction from Bowen Hills was 8½ chains long, on a five chains radius curve. There were 1½ chains of 1 in 201 down, six chains of 1 in 35 down, and one chain of 1 in 50 down leading on to the 1 in 50 of the southern leg. No vertical curves are shown on the working section of this leg, but it was standard in the construction of QR lines to incorporate vertical curvature where slopes joined, even if not shown on the working section.
See Working the Line below for the effect of these gradients.
The rear of the train in the photo on p 406 is on the gradient and curve of the Newstead to Brunswick St leg of the junction. The photo on p 405 shows a train on the Newstead to Bowen Hills leg of the junction
Not mentioned in the article is that the length of the up or southbound platform at Bowen Hills (map p 420) was seven carriages. This restriction resulted from the location of the junction of the northern leg of the junction with the NCL right at the southern end of the platform, and the tunnel at the northern end. The longest suburban trains were eight carriages (even nine during the war). Porters at the previous station, Mayne, advised the passengers for Bowen Hills in the leading car of eight car trains to change into the carriage behind, and drivers were told, provided the starting signal was clear, to stop the train with the leading car of eight off the platform. This allowed the eighth car (and the guard riding at its trailing end) to be outside the tunnel.
For all that was packed into the line, it was short. From Bulimba Junction, it was only 43 chains (860 metres) to Newstead and 1 mile 68 chains (2.96 km) to the end of the line at the New Farm power house. The Newstead Wharf branch was 51 chains (1.02 km) long, giving 2 miles 39 chains (just under 4 kms) of railway route. In 1950, there were 28 private sidings as well as Newstead yard in that distance.
The line was built with 42 lbs rails. The running lines and many sidings were progressively relaid in 60 lbs rails during the twenties, thirties and forties. This allowed all locomotives to run on the running lines, and some sidings. Engines to C17 could run on most other sidings, but wharves were restricted to B15 weight engines.
By 1950, the Breakfast Creek/Montpelier Road level crossing was floodlit at night, operated when required. The train was still preceded by a flagman. In April 1984, flashing lights were installed at this crossing and the flagman withdrawn.
In the map on p 421 the wharf marked as Wills, Gilchrist and Sanderson was better known as the Mercantile Wharf, the next set of wharves upstream without rail connection were the original Dalgetys wharf, and the next wharves upstream marked as then belonging to Dalgetys were originally the Brisbane Stevedoring and Wooldumping Company Wharf, also known as the New Farm Wharf (see WN 7/63).
The siding on to Dalgetys original wharf is not shown in that map because it was removed in 1957-59, before the 1960 date said to apply to the map. It passed through a considerable cutting. There was also a line on the western side of their wool dumping shed, which was an elevated road to an upper storey, removed in 1949. The site was so restricted that most turnouts were 1 in 6, the line through the cutting had three chains radius curves, and the elevated road had a gradient of 1 in 22. The sidings were laid out by George Phillips (see QR file A12-9442). These arrangements replaced an earlier warehouse and wharf about 1908. There was a bridge over the line at Wilson St, built in 1901-2, near Dalgety's Siding, a street name which no longer exists (see Annual Report). In 1908 Dalgetys were granted 35 perches of QR land adjacent to their store in return for cutting down the ridge on the river side and allowing the QR to use the material of the Wilson St overbridge. From that it appears that the bridge belonged to Dalgetys.
(photo 17916 to insert).
In 1910, according to WN 109, a temporary crossing was made at 1 mile 17 chains for a two feet gauge tramway carrying construction material for a wharf.
At the New Farm power house, coal was dropped from the QR hoppers, and raised by a covered conveyor belt into the power house. When the transport of coal was by water, the coal was drawn only from the few mines with access to the Bremer or Brisbane Rivers. Coal delivered by rail could be drawn from many more mines.
(photo 3071 to insert).
Not every activity served by the line moved downstream. Wool handling moved inland, to Corinda, about 11 kms south-west on the Ipswich line. Dalgety-N Z Loan moved there in 1964 (WN 13/65), while Elder Smith Goldsborough Mort, combined with AML - Estates, moved there in 1983 (WN 11/83).
Working the Line
Operations on the line and at Newstead were under the control of the Chief Station Master at Brunswick Street (first class up to 1947 and after 1987 and Special C grade during the forty intervening years).
See the description of the line above for the gradients near Bulimba Jct.
The loads on the southern leg (towards Brunswick St) were based on 1 in 75 and on the northern leg (towards Mayne) on 1 in 52.5 (for a B18¼ 445 tons and 320 tons respectively). In both cases, these gradients are easier than the actual gradients. It was therefore necessary for trains at or near full load to attain momentum after the four mph restriction crossing Breakfast Ck Rd and then lose it on the climb, but to maintain about 10 mph taking the junction on to the NCL. The southbound load was the same as that right through to Ipswich.
As the trains leaving Newstead to north or south entered busy sections of line (see below), they could not be allowed to stall on the gradients or on the track circuited sections applying to the junctions.
Trains could be up to 60 F wagon units, or, with locomotive, 17 chains or 340 metres, long. Once the engine of a full length train had crossed Breakfast Ck Rd level crossing at the 4 mph laid down, the engine was opened up to obtain the necessary momentum to surmount the gradients, to at least 10 mph, even though part of the train was still on the level crossing and in terms of the instruction still limited to 4 mph. Only half the length of a full length train was on 1 in 50 and/or 1 in 35 at a time.
Trains leaving Newstead could be composed of empty wagons from the inwards coal, cement and sugar traffics, and loaded wagons of petroleum products, building material and general merchandise. Trains composed mostly of loaded wagons of the denser traffics such as petroleum and building material were the biggest problem for drivers, because they were shorter, and the whole of their length was on the gradient at any one time. A full load for a B18¼ made up of 32 tons gross bogie wagons plus brake van represented 28 F units on the Brunswick St leg and 20 on the Bowen Hills leg, about 168 metres and 125 metres long with locomotive, respectively.
The gradients explain why outbound trains left Newstead engine first so far as possible. Steam engines coming light from Mayne for outgoing trains in either direction approached Bulimba Jct and Newstead tender first. As some trains went into Newstead and then out again on to the main line, presumably engines which arrived funnel first were turned on the junction at Bulimba Junction if the outwards loads were at all heavy so that they could continue and come up the gradient from Newstead engine first. The engine in the top photo on p 412 is proceeding from Newstead to Bulimba Jct tender first, however. There was no sanding in that direction on the engine, a B18¼, so the load was presumably light. The day was fine and rail dry.
Trains could be assisted from Newstead by a banking engine not coupled to the train. The GA said that it could go as far as the starting signal, but there was no such signal. Presumably it could go as far as the Bulimba Jct inner home, that at the divergence of the two legs of the junction. A shunter had to be aboard the banking engine, presumably to ensure safe return of the engine to Newstead. No loads were laid down for banking, so it has to be presumed that the sum of the loads applying to the individual engines applied. Banking commenced about 1925 (Sec file 63/259).
Until 1942, trains ran on staff between Bulimba Jct and Newstead. After 1942, Bulimba Junction had an outer home signal on the branch, on its side of the Breakfast Ck Rd level crossings, and home signals at the junction for each leg of the fork line. Those signals can be observed on the map on p 420. The Brown and Broad and Shell No 2 siding, as well as the sidings nearer Bulimba Jct were therefore within Bulimba Jct yard, even though geographically the first two were very definitely at Newstead.
According to provisions in the GA, Mayne was not to despatch a train for the branch until it was known from Bulimba Junction that the train could be accepted and accommodated within the outer home signal (ie in the track up to the Breakfast Ck Rd level crossing) and clear of the main line (ie the NCL). No instruction was given for trains from the southern direction, but presumably Roma St or Central made similar enquiries. It was possible for trains to run between Newstead and Brunswick St with Bulimba Jct cut out, using the third line between Bulimba Junction and Brunswick St (visible in the photo on p 406 and referred to in its caption). That single track line was an ordinary staff section. Engines to shunt the yard at Brunswick St came from Newstead.
The GA said that Newstead advised Bulimba Jct when a train was ready to leave. If the road was clear, Bulimba Jct lowered the outer and inner home signals. What the GA did not say, but was crucial in the working of trains from Newstead, is that the line had to be clear beyond Bulimba Jct. Unless it were well below a full load, a train leaving Newstead could not be stopped on either leg of Bulimba Junction because it would not be able to restart on the combination of gradient and curve. If the train was to Roma St yard via Central, the way had to be clear right into Roma St yard to avoid blocking the lines carrying numerous passenger trains. If it was for the Ipswich line (as the empty hopper trains and trains to Toowoomba were) the way had to be clear to at least Corinda, which was the first place it could be refuged for the passenger trains. Trains for that direction went via Central unless they were light because a heavier load could be taken via Central.
If the train was for the Mayne direction, it could be held on No. 2 Main Lines there before the junction with the Exhibition Line, but unless it was short it could then block the "hole in the wall", a sharply curved line between the Exhibition and NC lines. If the train was bound for Roma Street via the Exhibition Loop, it had to have a clear route via the fork line at Mayne through the "hole in the wall" because there was no intermediate place to hold it.
A loop was provided near Breakfast Ck Rd in 1913, presumably on the site of the future Newstead, but apparently not used for crossing trains, because in 1914, when Bulimba Jct opened, the branch was two staff sections, Bulimba Jct - Commercial Road - New Farm. By 1925, the sections were Bulimba Jct - Newstead - Dalgetys Loop - New Farm. In contrast to Rod Milne's surmising (p 409), the GA of that year is clear that there were no signals at the crossing places, although there were lock up staff boxes. The ordinary and complicated rules for working through unattended crossing loops did not apply at these places. When a crossing was necessary, the guard or shunter of the first train to arrive was to protect that train until it was shunted clear of the main line and then exhibit a green flag to the other train that the line was clear. Crossings were allowed only in daylight.
By 1935, only Bulimba Jct to Newstead was worked as a staff section; the remainder was worked under the control of the shunter in charge at Newstead. Crossings were still allowed at Newstead, still unsignalled, under the same rules as above.
In 1942, the outer home signal for Bulimba Jct was placed at the Breakfast Ck Rd level crossing as above, and the staff was withdrawn from the section Bulimba Jct to Newstead. Crossing was still allowed at Newstead under the same rules, and crossings were common there, of both main line trains and shunting trains on the branch.
It was not laid down that the working beyond Newstead was yard working, as Rod Milne says, simply that it was under the supervision of the shunter in charge at Newstead. Crossings were presumably allowed anywhere, so long as he authorised them. Trains were required to stop before crossing Breakfast Ck Rd, Commercial Rd, and the occupation crossings at Dalgetys and the Brisbane Stevedoring Company. At the first of these, there was to be a flagman, at the others, the guard or shunter was to go to the front of the train and signal the train to cross. Elsewhere speed was limited to 4 mph where crossing streets. As crossing the above mentioned level crossings and streets was an almost continuous process beyond Commercial Rd, presumably that was the speed limit beyond there. At night, a signalman (later a shunter) was to walk in front of any train, displaying a red light and ringing a bell.
These provisions contrast with various claims made in the article by Rod Milne. He says on p 410 that the Commercial Rd crossing (which carried the Bulimba Ferry tramline) was subject to "flag and bell" and "right of way" rules. I do not know what the "right of way" rule was and no flagman was employed there. The claim for "right of way" rule is also made on pp 406 and 416. On p 416 he says, not clearly referring to any crossing, but probably to the most recently mentioned crossing on the Shell No 2 siding and Commercial Road, that there was "an almost complete lack of any real protection" when in fact there was protection, that mentioned above of the guard or shunter signalling the train to cross. He also says that "it is remarkable that collisions did not occur more regularly". That implies that there were collisions at those places, of which he presents no evidence.
Until January 1953, the Bulimba Ferry was provided by a vehicle and passenger ferry, the paddler "Hetherington" as well as small motor ferries (see P Hanlon, Oh-ver, History of the Brisbane Cross River Ferries). The use of the Commercial Rd level crossing by road vehicles was then greater than Rod Milne considers. They queued to join the ferry and left it in streams.
On p 416 he also refers to the crossing on the level of the Newstead Wharf branch by the Shell No 2 Siding as a "cornfield meet". A cornfield meet is two trains travelling in opposite directions within a single track section encountering each other. That did not apply here. The shunter in charge at Newstead was in charge of the operations on the two lines mentioned. It was for him to ensure that trains did not collide at this level crossing of two railway sidings. It was simple for him to ensure collisions did not occur. That was to have both lines worked by the one shunting engine and one gang of shunters.
Most trains beyond Newstead had no brake van, and many were pushed for at least part of their run. Only in 1972 was such working specifically allowed.
Postwar at any rate, coal trains were broken up at Newstead for the several destinations. They were worked from the Ipswich direction by Mayne crews, who had worked to Ipswich on a passenger train. The empty hoppers were worked to the Ipswich district coal pits (as in the photo on p 407) by Ipswich crews who had worked to Mayne on a passenger train. The only trains to work complete through Newstead to New Farm, and with a brake van, were the sugar trains to New Farm.
The line was not available for the 6D13½ 0-6-0T (rebuilt to B13½ 0-6-0) shunting locomotives, the only specific shunting locomotives the QR ever had, even though such were based at and worked at nearby Mayne, and in their tender form had as much coal as a PB15 for an extended period away from the depot.
At least two engine crews were based at Newstead, and spent their whole time working on the branch and to Brunswick St and Mayne. Mayne men also worked the shunting engines there. The two yard shunting engines shown as working at Brunswick St in the 1966 Empty Coaches and Light Engines WTT (27A from Mayne and 357 from Roma St) shown in the yard shunting engines section actually worked at Newstead, and are shown in the suburban coal and goods trains section of the same WTT arriving and leaving there. Mayne men worked 27A and shunted for the morning, and were relieved by another Mayne crew at 12.35. The relief crews walked from Mayne, for which they were allowed 25 minutes.
Shunting did not occur beyond Commercial Rd in darkness if that could be avoided. It possibly extended into darkness in mid winter. Whether a shunting engine worked through the night on weekdays at Newstead itself is not known, but the two shunting engines (27A and 357, later 27A and 29A) were shown in WTTs as returning to Mayne each night. On 15th January 1948, however, a Mayne crew worked 27A through the night for twelve hours (engine B15Con 240), and signed off at 10 am the next day (see Sunshine Express February 2008 p 62). Further, the PB15 shunting engines seen in the photos on pp 416 and 417 have all but empty coal spaces in their tenders, which might mean they worked at Newstead for longer than a day. They might have used most of their coal while working for extended periods at Roma St, where shunting engines worked for two days before returning to the depot. In 1970, when all shunting was by diesel locomotives, a shunting engine was scheduled on weekdays between Mayne and Newstead, then numbered 727.
Trains working between Bulimba Jct and Newstead retained the direction and number they had on the main line. Thus trains on that section, and to some extent between Mayne ("hole in the wall") and Newstead could be up or down and have even or odd numbers. Some trains (by number) made more than one trip between Bulimba Jct and Newstead each day, doing circuits and shuttles among the three yards Roma Street, Newstead and Mayne, with traffic loaded on the branch to be marshalled at Roma St or Mayne into through goods trains to the west or the North Coast, or to suburban goods trains.
The coal trains worked from the Ipswich line, and sugar from the NCL, and had empty returns. From time to time, especially when the oil company depots were operational, sufficient loading was available at Newstead for a long distance goods train, to Toowoomba or Gympie, to start from there instead of Roma St or Mayne. From the mid 1960s, a shunting goods train for Yandina on the NCL, 269, started at Newstead. Not all light engines for trains starting from Newstead were shown in the WTT.
When the coal traffic to New Farm was lost, and oil products traffic was no longer forwarded from the line, the number of scheduled trains on the line dropped off, as no doubt did the number of specials timed on Train Notices.
The hours of operation to and from the branch (but not necessarily of shunting engines at Newstead) are indicated by the hours Bulimba Jct cabin was scheduled to be in circuit, ie open. In 1946, this was from 0510 to 0045 the following morning Mondays to Fridays, 0510 to 1900 Saturdays and 0915 to 1230 Sundays. In 1953, the hours were 0440 to 0012 Monday to Friday, 0455 to 1645 Saturdays, and 0805 to 1615 Sundays. In 1962, the hours were 0440 to 2325 Mondays to Fridays only. The cabin was then closed and cut out on Saturdays and Sundays. Coal trains were cancelled during the miners' holidays over Christmas, and reduced frequencies and hours of opening applied then. After the cabin was closed and its functions transferred to Mayne in November 1964, there were no limitations on the hours at which trains could run to and from Newstead, because Mayne cabin was manned continuously.
In later years, with infrequent shunting of many of the sidings, road vehicles were not infrequently parked on the sidings where the rails were flush with the road surface. The video "Ultimate Steam", using film by Noel West, shows an engine and shunting crew moving a car from such a siding.
In 1951-52, the inwards traffic on the branch amounted to almost 600,000 tons, 501,000 at Bulimba. This was a large proportion of traffic on the QR at the time. Excluding traffic loaded at the major Brisbane goods yards, including those on the branch itself, and all livestock, 11½% of QR goods traffic came inwards to this branch, 9.7% of it to Bulimba alone. This is accounted for only because a lot of export traffic was then consigned from country stations to the wharves there. Wool from the southern part of the State was almost all consigned to Bulimba, but that was only 33,000 tons and all the wool consigned on the QR amounted to only 59,000 tons. I think that most bagged grain was moved to Bulimba for export then (by the end of the fifties, that traffic had moved to Pinkenba). Some 63,000 tons were received that year at New Farm; of that only 13,000 or so tons can have been sugar from Nambour, and the coal traffic was never so high; presumably some export traffic was received at a wharf classified as being at New Farm. Outwards traffic was 118,300 tons, of which 33,000 tons was general merchandise from Newstead, and 1500 timber from Newstead (Brown and Broad). (Sugar was at times railed from Maryborough to New Farm as well as from Nambour, but probably later than this)
General merchandise traffic from Newstead, the basis of the goods yard there, had fallen to 11,000 tons by 1959-60, and 6600 by 1962-63. This traffic was to grow again. Brunswick St closed as a goods station in 1972 (WN 20/72). Its 17,000 tonnes of outwards traffic at the time, almost entirely general merchandise, was presumably mostly diverted to Newstead, where the outwards tonnage was 34,000 in 1974-75. Newstead traffic fell away again, to 20,000 tonnes in 1979-80, 17,000 in 1984-85and 11,000 in 1988-89.
The traffic into Bulimba, where 501,000 tons were received in 1951-52, was only 201,000 in 1959-60 and 112,000 in 1962-63. That was still well above the total wool despatched on the QR that year (46,000 tons). The decline continued, to 54,000 tonnes in 1974-75, 25,000 in 1979-80, 13,000 in 1984-85 and only 328 in 1988-89.
Traffic into New Farm was 50,000 tons in 1962-63, about 27,000 of which was sugar from Nambour. Coal disappeared (as Rod Milne mentions on p 410) in the mid 1960s and sugar increased with expansion of the industry. In 1974-75, 48,500 tonnes were received there, 35,000 from Nambour. The highest tonnage of sugar traffic appears to have occurred in 1979-80, some 51,000 tonnes, of 60,800 tonnes received at New Farm that year. In the late eighties, the tonnages inwards to New Farm were entirely sugar, until that traffic was lost to road for the second time.
By 1988-89, outwards traffic from the whole branch was down to 13,500 tonnes, general merchandise, mostly from Newstead. Apart from 26,000 tonnes of sugar from Nambour to New Farm, inwards traffic was just over 6000 tonnes.
On p 410 Rod Milne says that he knows of no other section of QR public railway (than this branch) which never had a regular passenger service. There were nine wharf branches open to public traffic on the QR which never had a passenger service, three wharf branches which had passenger trains only to connect with ships and not specially regular, while the various sections of the Redbank to Bundamba loop were public railways, and carried coal miners to and from their work, as well as coal, but were never shown in QR public timetables, even as goods only lines.
Passengers did travel on the Bulimba branch. During the Second World War, in January 1943, No 5 Ambulance Train brought passengers from Lawes to the "Manunda" berthed at Dalgety's original Wharf. In February/March 1943, No 1 Ambulance Train made two runs from Newstead Wharf to Lawes with patients from the "Manunda", and Laidley to Newstead Wharf. There were other unspecified trips by Ambulance Trains to Brisbane wharves. (See J Y Harvey, Mercy Trains, 2001, pp 196, 201 and 223.)
In some post war years, the New Farm Primary School hired a train for its end of the year picnic at Shorncliffe. The picnic party joined at the platform at the Naval Depot (see Peter Meagher, Sunshine Express, May 2007, p 154). In the 1950s, this was hauled by a D17. In the 1960s, it was an eight car suburban carriage set, and the operation was designed to use a set spare between the morning and evening peaks. Mr George McHugh advises that when hauled by a DD17, it ran bunker first ex New Farm. The rear sanding on DD17s was not the best arrangement, and climbing to Bowen Hills was touch and go.
In 1977 Newstead Wharves were deleted from QR lists of traffic locations (WN 23/77), in 1980 Brown and Broad Siding was deleted leaving only one line crossing Breakfast Ck Rd (WN 27/80), from 1 November 1989 the line was closed beyond Commercial Rd (WN 43/89), and the remainder was closed from 30 April 1990 (WN 19/90).
The Royal Navy (British) were not users of the siding mentioned on p 406, but the Royal Australian Navy was.
In the photo on p 409, the first hopper on the train is a V. Some of the larger hoppers are VR (compare the caption).
The caption to the middle photo on p 413 refers to B18¼ 84 as "recently overhauled and from a Northern Division locomotive". It is not clear what that means. No 84 had been a South Eastern Division locomotive when built. It had been in the Central Division before being transferred to the Northern Division early in 1957. It was transferred to the South Eastern Division during 1965, so the transfer mentioned had occurred two years before this photograph was taken. So far as being the prototype, it then had the composite boiler suited to both B18¼ and BB18¼ engines. Had a photograph of this engine at this location been published in 1965-66, then its recent transfer to the SED was newsworthy. In the context of the history of the Bulimba branch, published in 2005, its transfer and overhaul are irrelevant, especially if the information given is confused. In the context of other subjects, the subject can be worth raising.
p 415 photo. The engine is a PB15, but not No 400. Engine No 400 was not a PB15, but a B13½, no longer in service by 1965. The Bulimba branch was not one of the lines on which B13½ engines were allowed. From the number on the front headstock, it can be ascertained that the engine was numbered in the 460s. Of such, No 463 was allotted to Mayne at the time, and the number plate on the side of the boiler reads such. No 460 was then attached to Maryborough. The PB15 in the photos on pp 411 and 414, lower, taken on the same day, is probably also 463.
p 412, caption to the middle photo. This refers to "the main Ann St junction level crossing entry to the main Newstead Goods Yard". The road carrying the tramway where it crosses both the Bulimba branch and the Brown and Broad siding was called Breakfast Creek Road in the QR list of level crossings, but Wickham St in the Working Plan of the line. It was certainly not Ann St.
Although there was ultimately rail connection to wharves at South Brisbane/Wooloongabba, Bulimba/Newstead, Hamilton Cold Stores, Pinkenba and Fisherman Islands, several busy wharves in the City (Town Reach and Petrie Bight) never had rail connection. Various lines were proposed. Had one been built, lines along streets, as at Bulimba, would have been inevitable.
I consulted include QR Weekly Notices, WTTs, General Appendixes, Annual Reports, Working Plan and Section of the line, and Traffic Returns post 1963. Other sources are given in the text.
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13 May 2008, amended 8 July 2008 re title and banking