Royal train rolls out
THE appointments were fit for a king when Ipswich railway workers built the “Vice Regal” carriage in 1903.
The official rail carriage for the Governor of Queensland is back in the workshop at North Ipswich being prepped for a journey Governor of Queensland Paul de Jersey is making between Emerald and his former home town of Longreach next week for the centenary of Longreach Station.
The timber carriage is now part of Queensland Rail’s heritage fleet and has remained in service.
Apart from the ornate carpentry and lush appointments, there is a strong sense of history in the carriage. In 1920 the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII until he abdicated from the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, travelled on the carriage. At the time it was lauded for its modern “electric lighting”.
Seven years later the carriage was used for the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York (King George VI and Queen Elizabeth). The Carriage was also used for the Duke of Gloucester in 1934 and Princess Alexandra in 1959.
The Vice Regal carriage features an observation platform at the back with ornate balustrading, an interior with pressed metal ceilings, fine timber work with ornate pillars and was wired to the world with an onboard electric telegraph.
The carriage includes two state rooms with a bathroom, an observation room with lounge chairs and a dining room for six.
Queensland Rail historian Greg Hallam said the heritage fleet also included other luxury assets such as the Premier’s carriage, but the Vice Regal had an aura about it.
“It has the most amount of history attached to it,” Mr Hallam said. “It is normally on loan as an exhibit at the Workshops Rail Museum but it is still an active part of QR for special events.
“Later in the life of the train they used to attach the carriages behind the fruit trains. Because of fruit being perishable they used to run the fastest timetable trains point to point along the coastline. It was basically an express run.”