An imported railway - the background to construction of Queensland's early railway

Buchanan, Robyn (2012). An imported railway - the background to construction of Queensland's early railway MPhil Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Buchanan, Robyn
Thesis Title An imported railway - the background to construction of Queensland's early railway
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2012-09
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Geoff Ginn
Marion Diamond
Total pages 131
Total colour pages 10
Total black and white pages 121
Language eng
Subjects 21 History and Archaeology
Abstract/Summary The first Queensland railway was almost entirely imported. It relied on imported expertise - the contractor was Peto Brassey & Betts, a firm based in England, with a peripatetic Irish consultant Abraham Fitzgibbon as Chief Engineer and a London agent Sir Charles Fox appointed to select materials. Many workers were brought from Britain and most of the materials were imported, including complete pre-fabricated bridges and buildings. In past studies, the railway has been treated as a local project but this thesis argues that it should be viewed as part of a major global movement. After the collapse of the boom period of railway building in Britain, engineers and contractors began increasingly to work in other countries, taking British experience and British practices with them. They often had existing personal and professional connections which were maintained as they travelled around the globe. In the Australian colonies, these connections influenced some of the early decision-making – the engineering advice in Queensland, for example, resulted in the importation of some expensive and unnecessary items; it also resulted in break of gauge which has created problems and inefficiencies right up to the present day. The engineers and contractors, with their professional connections and previous work experience, are the key to understanding the early colonial railway but very little had been written about them in relation to Queensland history. The thesis provides new research to fill gaps in knowledge including a major focus on the Chief Engineer Abraham Fitzgibbon. The research shows that the current explanations for some events and decisions in Queensland, while not incorrect, are simplistic and ignore underlying causes. It also shows that in spite of its distance from Britain and America, the Queensland Government was knowledgeable about railway matters but its decision-making processes were poor.
Keyword Railway history
Railway construction
Engineering history
Contracting history
Abraham Fitzgibbon
Peto Brassey & Betts
Arthur Macalister

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Created: Wed, 31 Oct 2012, 07:53:26 EST by Ms Robyn Buchanan on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service