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Standard 9 Train

The 1929  Standard 9 Train Ambulance is signwritten for the  Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade

The Charleville Rail Ambulance

News has reached the Webmaster of this extraordinary Standard Train Ambulance in the Australian Outback!

In the Queensland Outback in the 1920's the roads were not sealed so in wet weather they were often impassable ( a fact that has been adequately demonstrated during the floods of early 2011) Motor Traffic between the townships of Charleville, Morven, Cunnamulla and Quilpie became impossible. As a consequence, the Road ambulance could not bring in local patients,  sometimes with fatal effect. 

Local Ambulance committees supplied around 10 rail Ambulances in the area. These were painted "ambulance yellow" with a canvas hood, open sides with canvas covers and a prominent red cross. They could be operated by a qualified Railway Department Driver accompanied by an Ambulance officer. These ambulances became a popular and welcome sight in this extremely rural area.

Due to a fatality in Quilpie in the early 1920's, the Ambulance superintendent, Mr J Grimstead and Dr J Shannesy, the resident medical doctor in Charleville asked for the purchase of a Rail Motor Ambulance in 1922. Quite why it took so long to deliver is not clear but when it arrived, what they got was this modified Standard 9! The conversion was carried out by Gardner of Enoggera, near Brisbane and it arrived in December 1929

The body length was an astonishing 15' 6" on the 7' 8" wheelbase. It would seem that a couple of heavy people in the rear of the ambulance might cause the whole thing to "wheelie" down the track! Maximum speed on a straight track was 20mph at first but later reduced to 15mph in 1935, and 6mph around curves. 

The Train Ambulance was not retired from service until 1956 and subsequently had several owners before being purchased for the Historical Society of Charleville in 1986 for $3400. Then it was restored, being ready for the Centenary celebrations of the Queensland St John in 1992.

The information I have says the Train last ran in 1998 but is capable of use today. The total cost of the restoration was $8000 and the Ambulance can now be seen in the Bi-centennial shed at the Charleville Historical House Museum where these photos were taken.

Charleville is pretty remote, even by Australian standards, being almost 500 miles inland from Brisbane, the state capital. I doubt if even many Australian visitors get there, so I am indeed grateful to Bev and Lang Kidby for these photos. I welcome more news of Standards in Australia..

Ambulance information supplied by the Charleville and District Historical Society. More information about the Charleville Historic House is here

Cow-catcher and train wheels

Standard 9 engine with Fuel tank above

The office: the only use of the steering column is for mounting the advance/retard and hand throttle levers

Behind the passenger seat can be seen the provision for two stretchers

Phil Homer

(with thanks to Lang and Bev Kidby)

Jan 2011