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Abraham 'Abram' Fitzgibbon (23 January 1823 – 4 April 1887) was an Irish-born railroad engineer and a pioneer for narrow-gauge railways.

Abraham Fitzgibbon
Abram Fitzgibbon circa 1863.JPG
Abraham Fitzgibbon circa 1863
Abraham Coates Fitz-Gibbon

(1823-01-23)23 January 1823
Died4 April 1887(1887-04-04) (aged 64) [1]
Bushey Heath, England
Alma materChalmers University of Technology
EmployerQueensland Rail
Known forRailway pioneer
Spouse(s)Isabelle Stovin
Parent(s)Philip Fitzgibbon
Elizabeth Coates



He became the first chief engineer of Queensland Railways after a rise through the ranks in the early stages of the railway department development.[2][3][4]

Despite opposition from contemporaries, he successfully advocated for the use of narrow gauge or 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) track in Australia.[5][6][7]

In the early 1860s, Fitzgibbon was working at Dun Mountain Railway in New Zealand, a horse-drawn line upon which he worked from 1860 (914 mm (3 ft) gauge)

Fitzgibbon arrived in the colony of Queensland in June 1863.[8] He was appointed chief engineer of the railways [9] and the first operations of the Queensland Railways opened in 1865.[10]

Narrow gauge railwayEdit

There was debate regarding the choice of gauge, 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) versus 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in).[11]

Pony railway will last 25 or 30 years",[12] though in practice the pony gauge of 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in) has never been changed.

By 1867, the controversies included the termination of Fitzgibbon's contract – [13][14][15]

Involvement in the promotion of the 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) track gauge of the Toronto and Nipissing Railway and the Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway in Canada, together with the Norwegian engineer Carl Abraham Pihl.

The Fitzgibbon suburb of Brisbane is named after Abraham Fitzgibbon.

Other narrow gauge pioneersEdit

In order of influence:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Abraham Fitzgibbon M, #388075
  2. ^ Buchanan, Robyn (1 September 2012), An imported railway – the background to construction of Queensland's early railway, T, School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, retrieved 4 March 2014
  3. ^ Armstrong, John; Australian Railway Historical Society. Queensland Division (1985), Locomotives in the tropics. Volume 1. Queensland railways 1864-1910. Volume 1 : Queensland railways 1864–1910, Australian Railway Historical Society, Queensland Division, ISBN 978-0-909937-12-6 Armstrong observes the rise of Fitzgibbon over the rival engineers of the time
  4. ^ Kerr, John (1998), Triumph of narrow gauge : a history of Queensland Railways (Rev. ed.), Boolarong Press, ISBN 978-0-86439-204-6
  5. ^ Adoption of the 3ft. 6ins. gauge for queensland railways (1983)
  6. ^ Knowles, J. W (1983), "Adoption of the 3ft 6ins gauge for Queensland railways. -Presented to a meeting of the Society on 26 May 1983-", Historical Papers (Brisbane), 11 (4): -113–125, ISSN 0815-9653 also at Knowles, J. W. (John W.) (1 January 1981), Adoption of the 3ft. 6ins. gauge for Queensland Railways, Royal Historical Society of Queensland, retrieved 4 March 2014
  7. ^ Harding identifies railway engineers came from other Australian colonies and were highly cvritical of the proposed gauge p.36 Harding, Eric (1958), Uniform railway gauge, Lothian Pub. Co, retrieved 4 March 2014
  8. ^ "THAT'S SO!". The Queenslander. National Library of Australia. 31 August 1867. p. 4. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  9. ^ "THE GAZETTE". The Courier (Brisbane). Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 5 October 1863. p. 2. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  10. ^ Our journey – About Queensland Rail Archived 1 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "PARLIAMENT". The Brisbane Courier. National Library of Australia. 18 May 1864. p. 2. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  12. ^ The Railway Gauge The Brisbane Courier, Tuesday 22 August 1911
  13. ^ "THE RAILWAY SELECT COMMITTEE". The Darling Downs Gazette and General Advertiser. Toowoomba, Qld.: National Library of Australia. 22 October 1867. p. 3. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  14. ^ Termination of Fitzgibbon's contract The Brisbane Courier, Saturday 17 August 1867
  15. ^ "TREASURY NOTES AND BILLS". Rockhampton Bulletin and Central Queensland Advertiser. National Library of Australia. 3 August 1867. p. 2. Retrieved 29 July 2012.