By C.C. Singleton

The following article is reproduced from "The Australian Railway Historical Society" Bulletin No.258 April 1959

In September 1956, two members walked over the route of the derelict railway between Norman Park and Old Belmont to see what traces, if any, had survived the building activities that had taken place with the growth of Brisbane's suburbs since Mr. L.M. Stephens wrote his article on this subject and which appeared in Bn. No. 19 (September 1939). As a result of the visit, it seems advisable to issue a revised story of this forgotten line, particularly for the benefit of members who have joined the Society in the past 20 years. Much of the data has been culled from Mr. Stephens' article and is hereby acknowledged.

History of the Line

The Belmont Shire Council, in the Southern suburbs of Brisbane, once owned a light 3' 6" gauge railway built under the Tramways Act. It was 4 miles 25 chains in length, from Norman Park station, on the Cleveland line of the Queensland Railways, to a terminus on the Old Cleveland Road, near the present State school at the corner of Scrub Road; The building of this line was opposed by the Railway Commissioner of the period, as the district was sparsely settled and the terrain hilly.

Opened for traffic on the 25th May 1912 the line was laid with 42 pound rails, having 2464 sleepers to the mile and only light ballast was used, the formation being 13' in the cuttings and 12' on the fills. The sharpest curves were of 8-chains radius and an excessively steep ruling grade of 1 in 25 uncompensated for curvature, was used to save heavy earthwork. It cost £20,000 to build.

When first opened, the line was operated by the Queensland Railways for the Shire but later the Shire worked the tramway with its own engine and cars. It was a very expensive toy and, beyond an occasional truck of stone from Belmont or one of skins from the works owned by Baynes Bros. at Springfield, near Belmont, there was little goods traffic and the passenger traffic, at this stage was light. The Shire, accordingly, closed the line at the beginning of 1915 and disposed of its engines and rolling stock by the end of that year.

Owing to local agitation, the line was re-opened and worked by the Queensland Railways again, with its own engines and rolling stock, subsidised by the Shire, which also was supposed to pay for the maintenance work. However, the condition of the track and major structures deteriorated to such an extent that the line was closed for the second time in 1924.

The Shire, with the help of the Government, expended £14,000 on the line and it was re-opened in 1925, 29,029 passengers being carried in the next 12 months. The fares then were -- 1st-class, 9d single, 1/1 return; 2nd-class, 6d single and 9d return.

In 1925, the Belmont Shire was swallowed by the City of Brisbane, which was not at all interested in a losing proposition in local transport. The traffic on the line ceased and track, buildings and plant were disposed of.

Description of the Line

As seen by the two members, the junction with the Cleveland line was at the Cleveland end of Norman Park station which, when the Belmont line was first opened, was a single-line staff-and-ticket crossing place. The tramway continued alongside the Departmental line on an embankment, now abandoned, for 26 chains, up a grade of 1 in 60. The Cleveland line was duplicated in 1915 but the second line was laid on the opposite side to the tramway. The Shire's line (see map below) then left the railway boundary and turned Eastward, still on an embankment, on to its private right-of-way, to cross Bennett's Road on the level where, incidentally, a length of old rail was found embedded in the footpath alignment during the 1956 "walking inspection".

Signs of the formation then vanished into a large gravel pit, excavated since the days of the Belmont line, but were picked up where the formation closes in on Darcey (sic) Road which it accompanies, still rising steeply in a 12' deep cutting, Emerging, the formation crossed the Seven Hills trolley-bus route, just South of its terminal balloon loop, and took the centre strip between the two-level traffic lanes of the Oateson Skyline Drive. The trolley-bus route accompanied the old centre line on its right-hand side as far as Artemis Avenue, where it changed to the left-hand side. Seven Hills stopping place was situated opposite Claudia Road but no signs remain. Curving along the crest of the narrow ridge, the stopping place, Mount Bruce, was located immediately before crossing Ferguson Road, where an old shed marks the place once occupied by the waiting shed.

The location now left the open road and crossed small allotments containing suburban residences, where it cannot readily be traced. However, it emerged into the open again on a reserve at the rear of the large Camp Hill State School and a cutting was noted near the school fence and Ferguson Road, which it crossed on the level.

Proceeding through a small triangular block and across a home garden plot, the line came into the Old Cleveland Road, between Margaret Street and the old Camp Hill Hotel, opposite to which was City View stopping place.

No signs of the line were then found for some distance as the location has been obliterated by the new double-track electric tram lines (see picture below), laid in concrete, running as far as what is now called Belmont, at the corner of Mayfield Road, where the Shire line had a stopping place.

Source acknowledgement: Rail Back on Track - colinw

The centre of the wide thoroughfare was still followed but the separate vehicle pavements combined to run down the South side from the Pembroke Street intersection. A careful search revealed that a few bushes in the centre of the road covered a shallow cutting between the Sankey and Pembroke Streets intersections, as the road levels were too steep for the line. The Adelaide street intersection marked the end of the dense suburban building area and, nearby the Cleveland Road was deviated at one time to ease the grade over Carina Heights.

The road alignment was then left and the line kept along the Northern side of the deviated road, the site of Carina having been located at the intersection of Thorne Street. From this point, the line was diverted from the road onto separate right-of-way, to get an easier grade for the descent to the crossing of Creek Road, the cutting now being filled with refuse of every description, including junk metal.

The line then rejoined the road boundary to the North of the pavement for the remainder of the route. Shortly after the site of the level crossing over Creek Road, the line was carried on a high embankment much of which has been removed for filling by road authorities, and crossed a creek on a timber bridge that had two 10' and one 20' openings, all signs of which have long disappeared.

On the level section following, was the site of Springfield, where there was a siding for the traffic concerned with Baynes Brothers wool scouring and fellmongering works and the terminus of the livestock specials for the slaughter house, the site now being occupied by Redbank Meatworks Pty.Ltd. There was a platform with a waiting shed.

Bulimba Creek was crossed on seven 25' timber openings, the stumps of some of the piles still being visible. For the next half-mile, the line was in shallow cutting, continuing to the site of the Belmont terminus. Remains of the yard can still be noted alongside the road pavement, there being signs of two loading banks, where 500 tons of gravel per month were loaded from pits in Scrub Road in 1918. In the adjacent paddock, there were signs of the passenger platform and the usual Queensland Railways' "Wye".

Locomotives and Rolling Stock

At the outset, the Shire hired a Queensland Railways B.13-class locomotive, which hauled a composite car (1st, 2nd and van) in a shuttle of two round trips a day on the branch, connecting at Norman Park with the Manly trains.

B13 Locomotive
Source acknowledgement: State Library of Queensland - John Oxley Library

Composite Car
Source acknowledgement: State Library of Queensland - John Oxley Library

It is understood that the Shire purchased an enclosed Baldwin steam-motor of 0-4-2 type (B/N 35935 of 1911) in May 1912 but it is not clear when it was put into traffic.

Three cars of the saloon type were obtained in 1912 but all rolling stock and engine were disposed of in 1915.

The Queensland Railways provided motive power and rolling stock from that time, engines of the light type being used, their loads being :-

Class of enginefrom Belmontto Belmont
A.1230 tons40 tons
A.1460 tons70 tons
B.1370 tons (a)90 tons
PB.1585 tons (b)110 tons
B.15(Con)95 tons 120 tons

(a) 105 tons, not stopping at Norman Park.

(b) 120 tons, not stopping at Norman Park.

B.15 (Converted) locomotives were not permitted to go beyond Springfield (livestock loads). Speed was restricted to 15 m.p.h., with 10 m.p.h. over bridges.

Early Pictures of the Line

Although not part of the C.C. Singleton article above, here are some photos from the early days of the line.

Construction gang at Norman Park working on the Belmont Tramway
Source acknowledgement: State Library of Queensland - John Oxley Library

Crowd gathered for the opening of the Belmont Station on the Belmont Tramway 1912
Source acknowledgement: State Library of Queensland - John Oxley Library

Official Opening of the Mayfield Road waiting shed on the Belmont Tramway
Source acknowledgement: State Library of Queensland - John Oxley Library