Queensland railways : first half-century, 1864-1914

In February 1914, the Queensland Government Printer published a 112-page booklet to mark the 50th anniversary of railways in Queensland. Entitled Queensland railways : first half-century, 1864-1914, the booklet provides a detailed history on the establishment of Queensland's railways and its administration.

Queensland railways : first half-century, 1864-1914. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Queensland railways : first half-century, 1864-1914. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Ipswich Railway Station, 1914. From Queensland railways : first half-century, 1864-1914. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Ipswich Railway Station, 1914. From Queensland railways : first half-century, 1864-1914. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

'A group of early officials, 1864'. From Queensland railways : first half-century, 1864-1914. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

'A group of early officials, 1864'. From Queensland railways : first half-century, 1864-1914. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

C16 Class Engine, built in Ipswich Workshops. From Queensland railways : first half-century, 1864-1914. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

C16 Class Engine, built in Ipswich Workshops. From Queensland railways : first half-century, 1864-1914. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

ABT Rack Engine, Mount Morgan Branch. From Queensland railways : first half-century, 1864-1914. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

ABT Rack Engine, Mount Morgan Branch. From Queensland railways : first half-century, 1864-1914. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Railway map of Queensland. From Queensland railways : first half-century, 1864-1914. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Railway map of Queensland. From Queensland railways : first half-century, 1864-1914. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

At the time of its release Queensland railways : first half-century, 1864-1914 was mentioned in several Queensland newspapers, including Brisbane's Daily Standard - "The compilation of the information must have entailed a great deal of research work. It includes the history of the Railway Department from the first action taken to constitute it to the present day, while interspersed are interesting photographs of individuals and rolling stock of the past and present days. One specially interesting picture depicts the opening of the first railway at Ipswich in 1865, the men wearing the old grey top hats, while the ladies are shown in crinoline skirts".

'Opening of first railway, Ipswich, 1865'. From Queensland railways : first half-century, 1864-1914. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

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The State Library have a great collection of material on Queensland Railways - it is good that they are being digitised.

In the historical context the Railway Jubilee of 1914 was considered an opportunity to write (or rather publish) “as complete a history of the growth of the Queensland Railways be prepared.” This was authorised by both Paget, the Minister for Railways, and of course Colonel Charles Evans the Commissioner for Railways. The history was to be structured in five themes:1. Development in railway construction and methods of construction (with illustrations)2. Development in rolling stock (with illustrations)3. Traffic Working4. Workshops with illustrations5. Biographical sketches of the chief officers of the Department during the period (with photographs). The Queensland Railways Half Century booklet was the first commissioned history written about the organisation. The authorship was attributed to Arthur Crowther, who was Secretary to the Commissioner. However this was later disputed. Harrie Nowland, was to write to the Brisbane Courier after the death of Arthur Crowther in 1933, that it was actually he who wrote the Half Century booklet. Crowther was attributed as being author in his obituary in the paper in May 1933. Nowland had his letter disputing this and “wanting to put things right,” in the paper (literally) the day after.