Plaque on wall at Grandchester Railway Station Grandchester Station
Grandchester station is the oldest surviving building associated with the story of QR (Queensland Rail). It was the terminus for the first section of railway line in Queensland, which connected Ipswich with the Darling Downs and the towns of Toowoomba and Dalby. On 31 July 1865, an opening celebration was held here to mark completion of the first section of line. The station had been known as Bigge’s Camp but Governor Bowen suggested it should be changed to Grandchester, a Latinised version of the name, to reflect the importance of the occasion.
Grandchester passengers station originally housed the residence of the station master. Fireplaces were provided in the living room and waiting room. It was a refreshment stop for passengers from 1868. The station incorporates a signal cabin, now out of use, and a water tank which has been retained for heritage operations.
Alice Frere, on a world trip in August 1865, recalled her experience of travelling on a narrow gauge railway: “This is the only piece of railroad yet opened in Queensland… The carriages take three persons abreast, but, to enable them to do so, are made to project considerably on either side of the wheels; so that, in going around some of the sharpest curves, one can see easily into the next carriage but one. An old woman in our carriage was very proud of this little bit of railroad.”