• SAR_400_class_locomotive_no_409SAR_400_class_locomotive_no_409

Photo © Peripitus, under CC-BY-SA 3.0, file: SAR 400 class locomotive no 409

Attraction Category: Museum

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The National Railway Museum, Port Adelaide, South Australia, is Australia’s largest railway museum with over 100 exhibits on display, primarily from the Commonwealth and South Australian Railways.

In 1963 a group of rail preservationists convinced the South Australian Railways Commissioner to allocate land on the site of the former Mile End Roundhouse to house a small collection of withdrawn steam locomotives. The first locomotive arrived on 24 August 1964, with the Mile End Railway Museum officially opened on 5 December 1970. The original site had only a small number of exhibits under cover with most items housed on the site in the open air. The effects of weather took their toll on the exhibits, so an alternative undercover venue was sought.

In 1987 the museum obtained a $2m Australia’s Bicentennial Commemorative Grant to redevelop the former Port Dock goods terminal as a new under cover museum. On 2 January 1988 the Mile End Railway Museum closed and on 10 December 1988, the Port Dock Station Railway Museum was officially opened by the Premier of South Australia, John Bannon.

In 1999, funding was received as part of Australia’s Centenary of Federation to construct the Commonwealth Railway Museum within the museum’s precinct. This new facility, which was opened on 21 October 2001, houses a representative sample of exhibits from the Commonwealth Railways and Australian National. Included are vehicles from The Ghan, Tea & Sugar and Trans-Australian. At the same time, the Port Dock Station Railway Museum was renamed the National Railway Museum.

In May 2009 the main pavilion was named after Ron Fitch, who as South Australian Railways Commissioner had facilitated the transfer much of the museum’s early rolling stock. At the same time, the Commonwealth Railways Museum was renamed the Ronald E Fluck Pavilion, after the museum’s founder.

The museum houses its large static collection in two pavilions and the historical goods shed at the site of the original Port Dock railway station. On the site, all three gauges of Australia are represented, these being Narrow (3 ft 6 in or 1,070 mm) Standard (4 feet 8 1⁄2 inches or 1,435 millimetres) and Broad Gauge (5 ft 3 in or 1,600 mm). The collection comprises over 100 exhibits primarily from the Commonwealth and South Australian Railways. It also has rolling stock from the Silverton Tramway and Victorian Railways.

Operational locomotives and railcars on these gauges respectively are steam locomotive Peronne (1918 Andrew Barclay 0-6-0 Tank Locomotive), diesel locomotives 515 and 801, and Redhen railcars 400, 321 and trailer 863. The museum also operates a number of 18″ gauge (457mm) equipment, mainly steam locomotives Bub (0-4-2T) and Bill (2-4-0 with 4 wheel tender)… more on Wikipedia.

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