Second Class Car No. 144

South Australian Railways

Narrow Gauge


Class operators                                                   South Australian Railways

Condition                                                             Excellent

Provenance                                                         South Australian Railways

Ownership                                                           Port Dock Station Railway Trust

Class Builders                                                     Adelaide Locomotive Workshops, S.A.R. Islington Workshops

Built by                                                                S.A.R Islington Workshops

Number in class                                                  7

Number series                                                    7, 9, 126 - 128, 132, 144

Entered service                                                  22nd December 1894

Withdrawn                                                          19th March 1971

Entered the museum                                          8th November 1982

Length (over coupling points)                            38’ 10’’ (11.84m)

Bogie centres                                                    24’ 1’’ (7.34 metres)

Height                                                                10’ 5’’ (3.18 metres)

Width                                                                 7’ 6’’ (2.29 metres)

Tare Weight                                                       12 tons 8 cwt (12,406 kilograms)

Seating capacity                                                44


No. 144 is one of the many narrow-gauge passenger cars of the South Australian Railways with 31’ 6’’ (9.6m) long bodies nicknamed Short Toms. Although the narrow-gauge passenger cars ran in country areas for journeys occupying many hours duration, amenities provided were few. The original standard layout of these cars was access from each end of the cars with a solid partition dividing the car into two unequal areas. The larger compartments had another internal partition with a door to provide a smaller compartment in the centre of the car for ladies. For composite cars, the smaller area was the first class area.

Amenities in the form of water and lavatories were provided in narrow gauge cars from 1885 (and ultimately almost all of the Short Toms were fitted), but construction continued for some time of cars without these features.

No. 144 was originally scheduled to be built as a second class car to the standard layout without lavatories and with the solid internal partition and central ladies compartment. A direction in February 1894 stated it was to be second class ‘opened throughout from end to end’, - i.e. it was built as it was known with no internal partitions and longitudinal seats.

Constructed at Islington Workshops and issued on 18th December 1894 to the Western System of the narrow-gauge lines, No. 144 was built to replace No.10 passenger car when the latter was converted to an ambulance van and forwarded to Palmerston (Darwin) in 1890 in a programme providing ambulance vans on broad and narrow gauges.

Spending all of its life on the northern narrow-gauge lines, No.144 had few alterations but was fitted with electric lights in July 1909 and air brakes at Quorn in August 1911. In the 1950s No.144 was used as a trailer for school children behind the Model 75 rail car between Booleroo Centre and Wilmington and as the car was detached and attached at Booleroo Centre every school day, a handbrake was fitted to it during 1958 while an internal partition was also provided.

Condemned on the 19th March 1971 after the standardisation of the Port Pirie to Broken Hill line, No.144 was purchased by the South Australian Division of the Australian Railways Historical Society and made available for use on the Pichi Richi Railway. It was transferred to the Mile End Museum in 1982.

The car was extensively refurbished by the museum in early 1988, before spending several months on loan to Pichi Richi Railway at Quorn.

Visit the NRM

76 Lipson Street
Port Adelaide
South Australia  5015
Open Daily / 10am – 4:30pm





5-15 yrs & with an adult


2 adults & up to 3 children


  • Prices may vary for special events
  • EFTPOS is preferred payment method
  • Open from 12pm on ANZAC Day
  • Closed Christmas Day

Phone: 8341 1690

The National Railway Museum acknowledges the Kaurna people as the traditional owners and custodians of the Adelaide Plains. We honour and respect their ongoing cultural and spiritual connections to this country. We aim to respect the cultural heritage, customs and beliefs of all Indigenous people.

Go to top