When the Powerhouse was built in 1902, the Ipswich Railway Workshops was one of the first industrial complexes in Queensland to use electricity on a large scale.
The Powerhouse supplied electricity, compressed air and hydraulic pressure to power the machinery, tools and lights.
When the Workshops began, the machinery was driven by steam power. The site expanded rapidly in the late 19th century and electricity was seen as the key to its modernisation. Ipswich had no electricity supply, so Queensland Railways built its own powerhouse.
The Powerhouse was off limits to most Workshops employees. Electricians, engineers and maintenance fitters and turners worked here.
In the mid 1930s the Workshops stopped producing electricity when it was supplied by the City Electric Light Company. Alternators and a transformer were installed to convert the power to a form suitable for some of the older machinery.
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