Locomotives moving along Main Street

Can you imagine steam locomotives moving along the middle of a main suburban street? No? Well, it did happen in Main Street, Kangaroo Point in the early 1900s. Read on to find out more.Between 1895 and 1927 the engineering company of Evans, Anderson and Phelan built locomotives for Queensland Railways in their depot at the eastern end of Main Street, an area which is now Captain Burke Park.

When completed, the locomotives had to be delivered to the Woolloongabba locomotive depot two kilometres away at the other end of Main Street. How should this be achieved? They came up with a novel and ingenious way.

Here is how the Brisbane Courier of 17 February 1926 reported this amazing feat:

LOCOMOTIVES IN MAIN STREET- KANGAROO POINT, in the vicinity of the engineering works of Messrs. Evans, Anderson, and Phelan, was early yesterday morning the scene of unusual activity.
Two railway engines and tenders of the class C, superheated type, each having a net weight of 84 tons, were at 7 o’clock started on their maiden journey from the works to Woolloongabba, where they subsequently passed on to the Government railway line to join the ranks of locomotives that are honoured by being frequently called upon to make mail train runs.
Previously it had been arranged that the line, at Woolloongabba should be “broken” at a given time in order to permit the transfer of the new engines, hence operations at Kangaroo Point were commenced on the tick of time. As the clock struck, someone said, “Let her go!” and the driver of the front engine pushed the throttle over. Steam belched from the “funnel” of the engine, and for a second or two the wheels raced; then they gripped, and the locomotive passed slowly along about 100 yards of temporary track. The other engine joined it a moment later, and, by continually shifting the track by means of horse teams and two “iron horses” ultimately completed a journey that they will never retrace.
A large crowd assembled to see the start, and grew in size as the journey was covered and the householders along Main Street became aware that this tree-lined and usually tranquil thoroughfare was temporarily being converted into a railroad.
The two engines, which bear the makers’ numbers 176 and 177, and the departmental numbers 705-706, are the first two of a contract for four of this class let to the firm mentioned, which first commenced the construction of locomotives in 1890. The same firm has a contract for the construction of engines of other types. Yesterday’s operations were supervised by Mr. Phelan, sen., and Mr. G. Simson (inspector of locomotives).