Whistlestop president Warren McPherson (left) and officer John Sim hold the original name plate where they intend to mount it on a piece of an old boiler from the Maryborough flour mill. A plaque will tell the story of the journey of the brass
Whistlestop president Warren McPherson (left) and officer John Sim hold the original name plate where they intend to mount it on a piece of an old boiler from the Maryborough flour mill. A plaque will tell the story of the journey of the brass "Mary Ann" plate from when it was cast at Walkers Ltd in 1873 until it returned to the city 147 years later.

Name plate displayed alongside other piece of history

Mary Ann's priceless original name plate will take pride of place on another piece of history aboard the replica steam engine.

It will be mounted on a piece of an old boiler rescued from the Maryborough flour mill by Peter Olds when flour milling shut down in the city in 1980.

Mr Olds, creator of the Mary Ann replica and founder of the Whistlestop committee, said he had been given the boiler by Dominion flour company manager Ted Buckberry.

"I told him it needed to be saved. The boiler was an ancillary used for conditioning wheat before it was crushed. It was exactly the same diameter as the Mary Ann boiler.

"We used it for a year and then cut it apart to show people a cross section of the workmanship in the interior of the boiler."

Members of the Maryborough City Whistlestop committee are still riding on a jubilant wave after the Mary Ann name plate appeared 127 years after it disappeared.

Whistlestop president Warren McPherson said the name plate cast in 1873 would fit snugly on the section of the flour mill boiler and would be mounted at the rear of the Mary Ann replica engine where it could be seen by passengers on the carriages.

"We will put a notice up telling the story of how it came back to Maryborough after all these years."

The brass plate was donated to the Whistlestop museum in the week before Christmas by collector Merv Volker of Ipswich. Mr Volker had bought the brass name plate 23 years ago from another collector, who bought it from someone with a Gympie connection.

Mr Olds believes the name plate was carefully removed by William Pettigrew in 1893 after fire destroyed the Dundathu Sawmill. Pettigrew recorded two locomotives and a portable engine in his inventory of what was salvaged from the flood and fire.

"It has been taken off carefully by someone who knew what they were doing and William Pettigrew was an engineer. The Mary Ann name plate had sentimental value for him."

The little loco, the first steam engine built in Queensland, was named Mary Ann after the daughters of Pettigrew and his former partner William Sim, who was killed by a rolling log not long after the little engine made its debut in 1873.

Mr Volker's donation of the only part of the original Mary Ann known to have survived. The Mary Ann replica, built from photographs, was launched in 1999.