Historic train carriage destroyed in fire just hours before Canberra Railway Museum reopening


October 06, 2019 17:00:50

A historic carriage has been destroyed in a suspicious fire at the Canberra Railway Museum, just hours before its reopening.

Key points:

  • The suspicious fire destroyed a 1930s railway carriage and damaged two other cars
  • The fire happened just hours before the reopening of the Canberra Railway Museum
  • The museum went into liquidation three years ago and two thirds of its stock was sold off

The museum welcomed train enthusiasts through its gates in Kingston this morning for the first time since going into liquidation in 2016.

But the grand reopening did not go smoothly, with fire ripping through three carriages at the Geirjera Place storage yard about 6:00am.

A 1930s passenger carriage was gutted in the blaze and two adjacent cars were also damaged.

ACT Policing is investigating and museum director John Cheeseman said it appeared someone broke in and deliberately started the fire.

“Luckily the fire was contained to the storage yard … and was well away from the main museum,” he said.

“Unfortunately, one of the vehicles that was burnt had some spare parts stored in it.”

The destroyed carriage was actually privately owned by a Sydney resident.

Showcasing Canberra’s rail history

Now under new management, the museum is much smaller than is used to be, after liquidators sold off about two thirds of its exhibits in August 2017.

But Mr Cheeseman said there was still plenty to see and the museum was once again telling the story of Canberra’s rail history.

“We’re trying to have a local museum for the people of Canberra … [so] they can appreciate the influence railways had on Canberra in the early days during its construction,” he said.

One of the main attractions is the 140-year-old 1210 steam locomotive which brought the first train into Canberra in 1914.

There are also sleeper cars from the 1900s on show, along with hundreds of artefacts and rail memorabilia including maps.

Danusha Cabillo and her family were among the first visitors to explore the new exhibits.

Her great-great-grandfather helped build the railway tracks between Kalgoorlie and Menzies in Western Australia.

“It was really nice to see some of the items that he would have used … and to think some of these carriages could have travelled those tracks and he was a part of that history,” she said.

“It was really nice to share that with the kids today.”

The volunteer-run museum opens on Sundays between 10:00am and 3:00pm, and is planning to start running train rides to Bungendore again next year.






First posted

October 06, 2019 16:55:29

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