Queensland Department of Railways commissioned A10 steam locomotives for Queensland’s narrow 3ft 6in (1,067 mm) gauge. The Fairlie Engine & Steam Carriage Company in England was contracted to provide three of them - A10 - 202, 203 and 204 and they were built by the Vulcan Foundry in 1876. Initially these A10 locomotives were brought to Normanton to open up the region for the Cloncurry copper mine. Rail construction was upstaged by the Croydon gold strike, and the Croydon line was built to transport heavy steam machinery, goods, people and gold to and from the Norman River port in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Distance and isolation allowed this remarkable physical record of early Queensland railway locomotives, rolling stock and the earliest narrow-gauge railway in the world, to exist today. Called the railway that runs from ‘nowhere to nowhere’, it was and still is, the last isolated and disconnected line of Queensland Rail.
When Croydon Shire Council commenced reconstruction of A10 202 in 1999, Queensland Rail assisted by donating the chassis of A10 203 and 204 and their tenders and large and small parts. It spent time as a tourist display in town and the A10-203 and 204 chassis and tenders were brought to Croydon to assist in restoration attempts. The A10-202 boiler was placed on the A10-204 chassis for a display at the railway station and 203 has been stripped of most of its removable parts.
Now both the A10-202 and A10-204 are on display in the Exhibition Shed in the True Blue Visitor Information Centre gardens, with A10-204’s tender and small and large parts.
Croydon’s A10 collection was assessed by Dr Jan Wegner of James Cook University in 2014 and found to have National Significance, based on the rarity of the locomotives, their origins and their role in Queensland’s railway history.