The Railway Museum can trace its beginnings to the dieselisation of the railways in Victoria. Steam had reigned supreme for over 100 years however in 1952 the diesel-electric mainline locomotives began to appear. Over the following decade steam locomotives disappeared in large numbers as they were put out of work by this new form of motive power.
Among the first to go were the streamline S class steam locomotives famous for hauling the Spirit of Progress non stop between Melbourne and Albury since 1937, unfortunately scrapped before the Railway Museum was formed. The sole remaining X class heavy goods locomotive was about to go to the cutter’s torch when a small group of members from the Australian Railway Historical Society Victorian Division approached the Victorian Railway Commissioners suggesting that examples of the various classes be preserved in a railway museum.
The Commissioners agreed to the idea and assisted by providing the steam locomotives and an area within the Newport Railway Workshops to display them. Officially opened on 10th November 1962 by the Chairman of Railway Commissioners Mr George Brown, the Railway Museum has continued to develop and grow through the efforts of many dedicated volunteers.
By the 1980’s, the wheel had turned a full circle on those diesel and electric locomotives that had supplanted steam. Just two decades after the Railway Museum had opened, the time had come for the early diesel locomotives to be displaced themselves by modern and more powerful locomotives. The museum expanded and examples of the early diesel and electric locomotives were placed on display beside the steam locomotives that they had earlier displaced.
Today the Railway Museum’s rolling stock exhibits includes steam, diesel and electric locomotive, steam cranes, freight wagons and passenger carriages. Our other exhibits include photographic displays, signal box and various items of railway equipment. When you visit the Railway Museum in person, you enter through a replica of an 1887 Victorian Railways station building.
The future of the Railway Museum is looking bright. We have recently completed the first stage of a project to construct roofing to protect exhibits from the elements. As a result of this work, existing exhibits are now much better presented and additional exhibits now being made available for our visitors to inspect. We are now planning a range of further improvements which will greatly enhance both our conservation of the exhibits and the overall visitor experience. Your support, which can help us to deliver these improvements much sooner, would be greatly appreciated. You can show your support either by becoming a Volunteer at the Railway Museum or, if you have a wider interest in the history of railways, joining the Australian Railway Historical Society Victorian Division.