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Made In Maryborough (BOOK)

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Made In Maryborough (BOOK)

The history of Walkers Ltd., of Maryborough, Queensland, goes back to 1863, when John Walker and three friends met in Geelong in Victoria with a view to the establishment of an engineering business in that State. The result of that meeting was the Union Foundry of John Walker & Co. at Ballarat. In 1867 a branch works was established in Queensland at Maryborough, over 1,300 km. to the north-east.

In 1871, the Ballarat Works tendered for the construction of a steam locomotive for the Rockingham Jarrah Timber Company of Western Australia, but was unsuccessful. The firm's first locomotive issued from the Maryborough works in 1873, a second followed in 1876 and a third in 1878.

The Ballarat assets were disposed of in 1879 and five years later John Walker & Co. Ltd. was floated. The name changed to Walkers Ltd. in 1888. Apart from its general engineering work, in the ensuing century Walkers Ltd., although having waxed and waned as a shipbuilder, has remained a leading force in the manufacture of railway rollingstock.

However, the company's first major contract in the locomotive field did not come until 1896, when an order for thirty B15 class locomotives came from the Queensland Railways. Thereafter the company built 553 steam locomotives for six different purchasers on three different gauges. Additionally, the company contracted to repair and reboiler 610 mm gauge steam locomotives and converted one machine, a Krauss 0-6-2T, to that gauge from its original 762 mm. This job was done for Messrs. Gibson & Howes, the proprietors of the Bingera Sugar Mill. The engine is now preserved. The company was also agent, at one time for Dick, Kerr of Leeds, England, for the supply of its locomotives.

The end of steam as the most favoured form of propulsion for railway locomotives saw the company collaborating in the newly emerging diesel field. It joined with Australian Electrical Industries in the production of a diesel-electric type, and with the North British Locomotive Co. in the attempted marketing of the latter's diesel hydraulic designs. As events turned out, Walkers Ltd. became a leading exponent of the hydraulic transmission, with such machines, to the company's own designs, being sold throughout Australia.

In the late '70's, a new entity, Walkers - ASEA Pty. Ltd., (now ASEA - Brown Boveri) secured a contract for the construction of electric multiple unit cars for the Queensland Railways, whilst in 1980 the company became part of the Evans Deakin Industries group. Since then the number of e.m.u. contracts has proliferated, and the combination of Clyde / ASEA - Walkers has commenced the manufacture of electric locomotives.

Walkers Ltd. has shown an ability, over 125 years, to remain abreast of technology as a major manufacturer for and supplier to the railway industry in Australia. For as long as that spirit of enterprise remains, Walkers Ltd. may be expected to retain its leading position in the market place.

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