Who we are - a brief history of the museum

In 1963 a group of rail preservationists, alarmed at the scrapping of steam locomotives which had served South Australia for many decades, set about saving, restoring and maintaining many of the historic vehicles in the museum today.

The original museum at Mile End

The first railway museum was located on Railway Terrace at Mile End, operated on a completely voluntary basis and opened on only two afternoons each month. Prior to 1988 museum members restored many locomotives and carriages, designed and built our steam engine 'Bub', and completely restored narrow gauge steam engine 'Peronne' to operational condition. They also published several railway books.

The exposure of the exhibits to the weather was a cause for great concern and an undercover venue was sought. In 1988 the museum was fortunate enough, with the involvement of the History Trust of SA, to obtain a $2m Australian Bicentennial Commemorative Grant to relocate to our current site and to provide covered accommodation for the exhibits.

On the 2nd of January 1988 the gates at the Mile End Railway Museum closed for the last time and on the 10th December 1988, after a year of frantic activity, the Port Dock Station Railway Museum Port Adelaide was officially opened by the Premier of South Australia, The Honorable John Bannon.

In 1999, special funding was received as part of Australia's Centenary of Federation to construct the Commonwealth Railways Museum within the museum's precinct. This new facility was opened on the 21st of October 2001 to house the expanding collection of exhibits from the Commonwealth Railways and Australian National. On the 31st of May 2009, the Commonwealth Railways Museum was re-named after National Railway Museum founder Ron Fluck.

The current museum under construction

At the opening of the Commonwealth Railway Museum the Port Dock Station Railway Museum was renamed the National Railway Museum Port Adelaide. The name change is a response to the Commonwealth Railway's operations being integrated into a National Transport Network that spanned the whole of the Australian continent.

The Museum is a self-supporting, non-profit enterprise which only occasionally receives government grants for special projects. Apart from the duties of two paid staff members, all of its activities are conducted by volunteers. If you are interested in becoming a member or volunteer, please visit the enthusiasts section.