Saturday, September 03, 2016

The Workshop Rail Museum

Ipswich is where it is because of the river. This is about as far upstream as you can go with a boat, so the town was built here and it became a rail head. To build and maintain the trains, a large workshop was built in the 19th century. Today, most of the site is a museum.

There is a collection here of restored trains, trains being restored, and related items on display.

The huge workspaces are now staging areas for the (re)assembly of these behemoths. Some work. Some don't. Some are currently still in service.

Here's a dining car with leather seats for those with money.

And carriages all in a row.

There is also a fire engine from Boonah.

There's a mobile steam engine that was used to crush rock for making roads nd the heavy lifting in clearing land.

And gears that once had a purpose that I do not know.

Here is a really curious item. It is a tricycle for riding the railroad! You move it along just as the pump carts do by moving the handlebars back and forth. It is the messenger system for the train: put a guy in the seat and set him out with the information.

I can't remember all the details but the naming scheme for train engines involves a letter for the size of the engine, a number for the size of the wheels and a serial number. Hence, these wheels are for a "C" class train with 17 inch wheels on number 1000.

One of the things I find really interesting is the way the victorians moved things around. I really enjoy the mechanical nature of these things. This lift was located near the front of the museum.

The museum had many parts I id not show. Most were for small children. There were rooms of science demos, a very large model train display. And active workshops we weren't allowed into.

There is a connection we all have to the past. Our families, the place we live, the place we work, all provide connections to the past (and future). A museum is explicitly designed to connect us to the past. But a rail museum is different from a building filled with the bit and bobs of royalty or commoners. It is filled with the realizations of our imagination. The things bigger that life; bigger than human scale devices we created first on paper and then in metal that allow us to begin to shape the Earth to be what we want.

These fossils point to the beginning of man-made climate change and the beginning of the Anthropocene era. They provide a window into the mental workings of those now dead. And we get a new way to see the foundations of our current world view. Just as we go to the Brittish Museum to see the wonders of the ancient world and strain to feel how the builders of the pyramids or the Acropolis thought about the world, we find a place like the the Rail Museum gives us a view on more recent world. Just as we cannot quite capture the thought processes of the ancients, I find that I cannot quite wrap my head around the Victorian Australians. There is something a bit topsy-turvy about the way they approach the world compared to us boring North Americans. This is a refreshing thing to experience. Just as modern music may not resolve a dissonance as you expect, Australians have found their own way and it is just a bit different from ours. And learning about it is really fun.

Hope you enjoy our journey too.