CSR Childers Mill No. 3
The CSR Childers Mill No. 3 is the story of an Australian tank engine that almost got away and at the same time it shows how tracing the history of any old steam engine, especially one that was used by private enterprise can be difficult.
What we do know is that the CSR Childers Mill No.3 was an 0-6-0T built by John Fowler in the UK in 1896 and delivered to the CSR Childers Mill the same year where it was used to haul cane to the Mill. When the CSR mill closed in 1932 ownership of No.3, and its sister No.4, passed to the nearby Isis Central Mill.
The new owner swapped numbers on the engines so CSR Childers Mill No.3 became Isis Central Mill No.4 and CSR Childers Mill No.4 became Isis Central Mill No.3.
The new No.4 mainly saw use as the mill shunter and it continued in that roll till it was withdrawn. Some sources indicate that it was withdrawn in 1955 while, in an interview with ABC Radio in 2008, the Secretary of the Isis District Historical Society stated that the engine was “decommissioned in 1962”.
In 1962 the engine was moved to a kindergarten in Childers where it became a piece of play equipment and stayed there till the 1970s. The story becomes a little murky from here on because the loco leaves Childers.
The now defunct Canetrains.net website list indicated that the loco was sold to a private buyer in NSW in the 1970s before going to another private buyer in Western Australia in 1983 and the history ends there.
The ABC interview, mentioned a little earlier, suggests that perhaps the engine did not go to NSW but went straight to Western Australia where it passed through a number of hands before being sold to a Museum in Norway.
Fortunately for us the new No. 4was prevented from being sent overseas by the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts who then gave the Isis and District Historical Society a grant of $22,000 to buy the loco.
The new No.4 was then returned to Childers where it is now on display in the grounds of the Historical Society’s complex just off the Bruce Highway in Childers.
But confusion over whether No3 is really No.4 or No. 4 is really No.3 continues for a recently compiled list of Queensland 2ft gauge steam engines presented to a Facebook discussion group seems to have missed the fact that the engines were renumbered when they were transferred to the Isis Central Mill.
Gauge: 610mm (2ft)
Wheel Arrangement: 0-6-0T
Isis Central Mill – Fleet List, Past Locomotives. Published on the now defunct Canetrains.net website.
Australia’s oldest tank engine comes home to rest in Childers, an interview published in the ABC website at http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2008/08/21/2342100.htm but has since been deleted.