Peterborough Roundhouse

A regional economic revitalisation initiative through community-led heritage regeneration.

Peterborough is a railway centre of importance. The old running sheds have given place to a roundhouse and the railway yards show a wonderful improvement

‘Peterborough Progress’, News (Adelaide), 3 Feb 1927, p.4.

In mid-2021, works began on the Peterborough Roundhouse to ensure the long-lasting structural integrity of the site.

Completed in 1925, the Peterborough Roundhouse is thought to be the only roundhouse in the world which contains three railway gauges – narrow, standard and broad. Construction began in 1924 as part of an ambitious program of rehabilitation led by William Alfred Webb, the Chief Commissioner of the South Australian Railways.

Prior to the 1920s, Peterborough was home to a rectangular engine shed. Within this shed, engines were stored end-to-end on sidings, meaning that they had to be ordered carefully to ensure that certain engines were not blocked in. As you can imagine, this system was very inefficient!

The Peterborough roundhouse was the second-largest roundhouse built under Webb’s orders. The first was in Mile End, Adelaide. Occupying a large semi-circle, the Peterborough roundhouse originally featured 23 stalls serviced by an 87ft turntable. Incorporated into the roundhouse layout were production line methods of servicing; locomotives were coaled, watered, and ashes were dropped on the way to the shed. In the late 1960s, stalls 17 to 20 were demolished to make way for a diesel fuel building.

Unfortunately, the Peterborough roundhouse eventually fell into disuse. Following the implementation of standard gauge tracks, many of the functions of the Peterborough roundhouse were moved elsewhere. 

In 1977, the Steamtown Peterborough Railway Preservation Society was founded to save the heritage line. Before disbanding in the early 2000s, the society ran a steam-hauled tourist train service and stored rolling stock in the roundhouse.

The Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre officially opened on 29 November 2009.