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Powerhouse Museum Displays Governor-General’s Railway Carriage

One of the Powerhouse Museum’s most treasured objects, the magnificent 1901 Governor-General’s carriage, is now being publicly exhibited for the first time at Trainworks, Thirlmere, in Sydney’s south west.

1901 Governor-General’s carriage, Photo: Powerhouse Museum

The Governor-General’s carriage is the second and final stage of the relocation of three historic rail objects from the Museum’s unique railway collection for public display. It joins the Powerhouse’s two operating steam locomotives, 3830 and 3265, at Thirlmere.

For the first time, visitors to Trainworks will see the opulent Governor-General’s carriage which features hand-carved cedar panels, silk drapes, gold-plated fittings, etched glass panels and late Victorian furnishings. It will be the centrepiece of Trainworks’ main exhibition building that opened on 4 April 2011, completing a significant upgrade of the site by RailCorp’s Office of Rail Heritage.

“It is probably the most luxurious carriage ever constructed in Australia and represents the work of the most skilled artisans employed in the New South Wales government railways, especially in the work of local timbers,’ said Dr Dawn Casey, Director, Powerhouse Museum.

“It is an important story in New South Wales’ transport and rail history that the public should be able to see and admire,” said Dr Casey.

Built in 1901 for Australia’s first Governor-General, Lord Hopetoun, it was one of five special cars built by the New South Wales Department of Railways at the Eveleigh railway workshops between 1891 and 1920. It was used exclusively used by royalty, governors-general, governors, premiers and the railway commissioners.

First used by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York in 1901, the carriage transported the couple from Sydney to Albury. There they changed to the Victorian Railways royal train for the journey to Melbourne to attend the opening of the first federal parliament.

The carriage served several governors-general and was used by a succession of royal visitors in 1920, 1927, 1934 and 1945. In 1954 it was also used by Queen Elizabeth II (the first reigning monarch to visit Australia) and Prince Philip. The Governor-General’s carriage has since been used on various historic train tours and commemorative occasions including the 125th anniversary of NSW railways in 1980.

Visitors to the Thirlmere will also see the Powerhouse Museum’s operating locomotives, 3265 and 3830. Locomotive 3830 is the last of the 38 class Pacific type express passenger locomotives. Fully restored to operating condition between 1992 and 1997, 3830 is now undergoing routine maintenance in NSW Rail Transport Museum’s Roundhouse on site. A viewing platform allows visitors to see railway workers undertake repair and restoration work, not only on 3830 but on other locomotives and carriages located at the facility.

Following an 11-year restoration project by the Powerhouse, locomotive 3265 re-entered service in September 2009. Loco 3265 is a classic “English express” P class locomotive and the only surviving member of its class with an original low frame. Since re-entering service, the Museum has made the locomotive available to heritage rail organisations for special steam tours. Earlier this year, 3265 participated in Thirlmere’s Festival of Steam and at the Hunter Valley Steamfest in Maitland.

The Governor-General’s carriage and locomotives 3830 and 3265 were acquired by the Powerhouse Museum from the State Rail Authority of NSW (now RailCorp) in 1988 for their care and preservation for future generations.

Trainworks and the NSW Rail Transport Museum are located at the rail corridor site at Thirlmere, approximately 90km from Sydney – one of the main features of the village of Thirlmere.

Powerhouse Museum
500 Harris Street Ultimo, PO Box K346 Haymarket, Sydney NSW 1238, Australia.

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