Queensland Government Railways

by John Hinson

Brisbane Central signal cabin
Photograph 23/9/67, by Dr J W F Scrimgeour,

The six-platform station at Brisbane Central was controlled from a remarkably small signal cabin. There was a reason for this. This box opened in 1904, replacing two mechanical boxes controlling either end of the station dating from 1891.

Interior of Brisbane Central box
Photograph from the collection of Dr J W F Scrimgeour

The 36-lever "B" battern electro-pneumatic frame, built by McKenzie & Holland, was in fact the first power installation in the whole of Australia. This frame was of just 24 levers when new, but was enlarged to 36 in July 1917. In comparison with other power schemes, Brisbane Central presents a remarkably uncluttered appearance through the lack of any equipment shelf above the levers.

At the time of this photograph, the line towards Mayne station was controlled by automatic signalling, but block working still applied through the tunnel to Roma Street. The Tyer's one-wire three-position block for this section can just be seen behind the signalman's left shoulder. A bell plunger can be seen to the left of the block instrument. Train descriptions were used to describe the approach of each train in association with the colour light signalling towards Brunswick Street or Mayne.

General view of Brisbane Central
Photograph 23/9/67, by Dr J W F Scrimgeour

This general view from the station shows some of the outdoor equipment provided in 1906. Prominent are two miniature-arm signals, known as dwarf signals. They are not shunting signals, as might be assumed, but are in fact running signals with the same authority as any larger signal. A three-aspect colour-light signal is visible on the far platform and a pneumatic point machine is in the foreground.

Brisbane Central cabin closed in August 1979 when control of the area was taken over by Mayne Control Centre.

Additional notes by Phil Barker

Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson