The Railway Institute Complex in Hamilton Street, Warwick, was the epicenter of the 300 strong employees of the Rail Precinct in Warwick when it started back in 1870. Warwick was a strategic base for goods transfer, locomotive maintenance, employee training and linking rail freight between Brisbane and Sydney.
In 2018 the Rail Institute Complex as its known came under the ownership of the Southern Downs Steam Railway (SDSR) who are in the process of undertaking renovation and restoration works on two of the three buildings onsite.
The closest building to Hamilton Street was established as a recreational centre for rail staff and over 40 years ago became the rail workers model train club. It remained as a model train club for over 20 years until all rail workers involved in the site were transferred out of Warwick to other locations.
The SDSR objective is to restore the complex back, as much as possible to its original purpose and use.
In January this year the rear hall, which comprises a large hall with a break out area, stage, toilets, kitchen and lounge area was made available for public use.
SDSR president Peter Gregory said interest from small business and not-for-profit clubs and associations has been “encouraging”.
“Our objective is to make this historic and spacious complex available for not for profits from $25 and commercial operators $50 per day or use as needed,” Peter said.
“Southern Downs Steam Railway has set up the lease arrangement so numerous clubs and small businesses can all operate out of the complex as and when needed, such as weekly, monthly or as needed throughout the year.
“Band practice, dance groups, artist and book clubs, scouts, girl guides, public speakers, school events are a few examples of what can be undertaken in the hall”.
“A new SDSR Model Train Association will be established from April this year.
“We have keen interest from model train enthusiasts around the region as the founding members have resolved to build from scratch the Wallangarra rail yards, station and yards with the complexity of two different rail line gauges and try to incorporate Stanthorpe Railway Station and a number of the bridges and valleys between Stanthorpe and Wallangarra.”
The model railway association will operate separately from the Steam Railway but will have its full support and access to tools and equipment needed for this ambitious but exciting project”.
SDSR Model Train Association Inaugural President Brad Gibson said the group plans to meet and formalize the Association’s objectives and invites prospective members to join.
“Those interested can make contact with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will let you know news via email as it unfolds,” he said.
Visit the Southern Downs Steam Railway website at www.southerndownssteamrailway.com.au and ‘Like’ them on Facebook.