Queensland Government Railways

by John Hinson

Ipswich signal cabin and station
Photograph by Dr J W F Scrimgeour, 22/9/67

At Ipswich, the double track main line between Brisbane and Toowoomba was broken to pass through the station which only had one through platform face. Historically, the line between here and Towoomba was Queensland's first main line railway. This signal cabin opened in 1895 and replaced an earlier cabin dating from 1882.

View of station from signal cabin
Photograph by Dr J W F Scrimgeour, 22/9/67

A view from the signal cabin window shows more detail of the station area. To the right, a suburban train has been abandoned in Platform 1 (right), which is the through platform.

Opposite this platform, a railmotor train stands in Platform 3, one of two dead-end bays at this end of the station (there was another at the Brisbane end). Dr Scrimgeour later boarded this train to travel to Toowoomba, photographing Yarongmulu box from the train.

View from Ipswich station
Photograph by Dr J W F Scrimgeour, 22/9/67

This picture, taken as Dr Scrimgeour was about to board the train, looks towards the junction controlled by Ipswich box. Running parallel with the through platform is the Up Loop, used by freight and non-stop passenger trains from the Brisbane direction. This line, the through platform and the bays all have starting signals with two arms. These apply to the junction ahead, but (according to the captions that accompanied the photograph) unlike British practice the upper arm applies to the main line route which in this case is the right-hand choice (Toowoomba), and the lower arm applies to the Mumbilla branch, which diverges left. However, I have subsequently been advised this was not the case, and that the signals read "top to bottom, left to right" as commonly found elsewhere.

The junction itself is just beyond the Ellenborough Street overbridge, and some freight lines from the far side of the River Bremer join from the right here too. Work started on a new station with island platform beyond the junction in what would have been a more operationally convenient place, but this was abandoned in 1915.

Interior of Ipswich box
Photograph by Dr J W F Scrimgeour, 22/9/67

A view of the interior of the box shows the McKenzie & Holland frame (No.11 with T-bar locking), with hand-painted description plates. These aren't as helpful as they might be - several simply describe the function as "Xover" without further qualification!

Above are a pair of Tyer & Co one-wire three-position blocks signalling the main line. Ipswich was one of only a few boxes on this line not provided with a closing switch - owing to the track layout.

Ipswich closed in July 1995, but the box remained in situ, securely boarded up, for many years. Over the weekend of 17-18 January 2015, the signal cabin was carefully dismantled and relocated to the Workshops Rail Museum at North Ipswich. The area where the Railmotor was photographed (the bay platforms) is now part of a large shopping complex.

Additional notes by Frank Archer, Phil Barker, David Bromage, Anthony Koch and Clayton Sokoll

Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson