The Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre is a dormant railway museum in Peterborough, South Australia. Back in the day, Peterborough was the administrative and service center for the Peterborough Division of South Australian Railways. It employed about 1500 people in the workshops which covered an extensive area towards the west of the township. Presently this is the place where the exhibits are set up. Often referred to as the museum with a difference, the Steamtown Heritage Centre lets its visitors relive the glorious days of the Australian Railway.

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Peterborough has a long history of railways. Shortly after the town of Peterborough was established, a railway was constructed to connect it with other towns such as Port Pirie, Jamestown, and Terowie. The successful mining operations in Broken Hill prompted the construction of a railway line that passed through Peterborough en-route to Port Pirie, where the mined ore was processed. Even in 1898, there were 70 trains daily transporting ore while in 1923 a few hundred trains passed through Peterborough. 

In 1927 the workforce of the Peterborough Division of the South Australian Railways was 1800. The presence of the South Australian Railways brought 100 years of prosperity to Peterborough, as it became a key junction for major railway lines. In 1970 the east-west line was converted to broad gauge. The 1980s however saw a decline in the use of the Peterborough Station due to a decline in services to Adelaide and Quorn. 

Subsequently, in 2009, the Steamtown Railway Museum was set up on the site.

Design and Architecture

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The design and architecture of the center adhere to the industrial style. The turntable and roundhouse are the main features of the exhibit. A railway roundhouse is a circular or semicircular shape used by railways for servicing and storing locomotives. Traditionally, barriers used to be placed around turntables, which turn vehicles in the absence of a traditional turnaround wye. The center evokes the grandeur of the railway yard and workshops of the past. The red brick structures complement the iron of the roundhouse and stand as a testament to the elegance of the historic industrial buildings. Steam town Heritage Railway Centre stands as a torch bearer of heritage preservation, dedicated to conserving the history and legacy of steam railways for future generations. Through careful restoration efforts, the center ensures that each locomotive and artefact maintain its historical integrity, allowing visitors to step back in time and experience the golden age of rail travel. Preservation efforts extend beyond physical artefacts to include archival materials, oral histories, and educational programs, ensuring that the cultural significance of steam railways remains alive. The center also hosts the city’s only light and sound show, depicting the history of the steam railways for visitors.


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The Steamtown Heritage Rail Museum showcases numerous vintage railway models which were prevalent in the steam era. The center hosts many restored locomotives along with railway memorabilia. Each artefact talks about the history of the station. The vintage trains are a marvel to behold and speak for the skilled craftsmanship of the bygone days. The signage at the station incorporates vintage typography and illustrations.

Interactive Experiences

In addition to its extensive collection of artefacts, Steamtown Heritage Railway Centre offers a range of interactive experiences designed to engage visitors of all ages. Hands-on activities, and guided tours, provide an immersive understanding of steam technology and railway operations. For younger visitors, educational programs and workshops offer opportunities to learn about the history of railways through storytelling, crafts, and interactive exhibits, fostering a lifelong appreciation for steam heritage. Steamtown Heritage Railway Centre is more than just a tourist destination; it is a vital hub for community engagement and cultural enrichment. Through partnerships with local schools, historical societies, and community organizations, the center hosts events, workshops, and outreach programs that celebrate the shared heritage of steam railways. Community members can participate in volunteer opportunities, contributing their time and expertise to preservation efforts and educational initiatives. Through fostering community ownership and pride, Steamtown Heritage Railway Centre ensures that its legacy endures for future generations.

As a premier destination for railway and history enthusiasts, Steamtown Heritage Railway Centre plays a crucial role in driving tourism and economic development in the region. National and international visitors visit the center to experience the thrill of steam locomotives and immerse themselves in railway history. Local businesses benefit from increased foot traffic and tourism-related spending, while the center catalyzes job creation and economic growth. Through strategic partnerships with tourism agencies and promotional efforts, Steamtown Heritage Railway Centre continues to attract visitors and strengthen the economic vitality of the surrounding community.

Steamtown Heritage Railway Centre is more than just a museum; it’s a dynamic cultural institution that celebrates the art, design, and architecture of steam railways, fostering community engagement, heritage preservation, and economic development. With its diverse array of artefacts, interactive experiences, and educational programs, the center offers something for everyone, ensuring that the legacy of steam railways remains vibrant and relevant in the modern age.


  1. About (2021) Steamtown Heritage Railway. Available at: (Accessed: 16 April 2024). 
  2. Green, T. (2022) All railroads lead to Peterborough, SALIFE. Available at: (Accessed: 16 April 2024). 
  3. Peterborough, Quorn, Terowie with Pichi Richi keep alive heady legacy of busy south australian railways (no date) Adelaide AZ. Available at:–quorn–terowie-with-pichi-richi-keep-alive-heady-legacy-of-busy-south-australian-railways (Accessed: 16 April 2024). 
  4. Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre (2023) Wikipedia. Available at: (Accessed: 16 April 2024). 
  5. Walsh, D. (2015) Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre, WeekendNotes. Available at: (Accessed: 16 April 2024). 

As a final-year architecture student, her five-year journey has nurtured a profound love for writing and a deep passion for spatial analysis. Her fascination with architecture intertwines seamlessly with her equal ardour for movies, finding inspiration in both mediums. Additionally, her love for music adds another layer of creativity to her pursuits