From newly restored steam Locomotive 3001 and Legend of Steam Locomotive 3801 to the Southern Hemisphere’s largest operating steam locomotive Beyer-Garratt 6029, visitors will be spoilt for choice with the biggest display of historic NSW railway steam engines at this year’s Thirlmere Festival of Steam.
All locomotives listed will either feature on display in steam or operate one of the many steam train rides throughout the weekend along the historic Loop Line.
Their will also be a range of smaller steam traction engines in and around the NSW Rail Museum throughout the weekend.
Please note: locomotives on display and in operation are subject to change without notice.
Locomotive 3001 began life in 1903 as S 636, the first of 145 engines in the S class (later C30 class) 4-6-4 suburban tank locomotives. They were built by Beyer, Peacock and Co. in Manchester, UK. 3001 received its new number in 1924. After electrification of Sydney’s suburban railways from 1926, the career path of 3001 took a new course.
3001 was one of 77 C30 class tanks rebuilt as 4-6-0 tender locomotives between 1928 and 1933. The newly converted engines were reclassified as C30T, and 3001 was one of the last to be rebuilt.
Redeployed into rural service, the rebuilt engines were just as successful in the bush as they had been in Sydney’s suburbs. The class were modernised during World War II by being fitted with superheaters. These reheat steam, giving it greater energy and allowing it to perform more work, and they improved the economy of each engine by around 10 per cent. (The other locomotives in the Festival of Steam are all equipped with superheaters.)
For many years, until as late as 1967, 3001 was a regular performer on the Mudgee Mail four days a week between Mudgee and Gwabegar.
The C30Ts were so good at their ‘jobs’, that some survived in service until 1972.
3001 remained a working locomotive in heritage service until 1996. It has recently undergone a three-year restoration and will form part of THNSW’s operational heritage train fleet from March 2023.
Reclassified as the 35 class during the 1924 renumbering program, these locomotives were originally known as the NN class, which gave rise to the nickname ‘Nanny’. Built in 1917, 3526’s original number was 1314.
The 35 class 4-6-0 locomotives were built by the NSW Government Railways (NSWGR) at their workshops at Eveleigh. Coincidentally, there were 35 engines in the 35 class. They were intended to reduce the amount of 'double-heading' required for main line express trains following the introduction of heavy, twelve-wheeled corridor compartment cars.
Teething problems with the new design were overcome by several modifications throughout their service (including re-framing and re-balancing the driving wheels), seeing them develop into solid performers. The original cabs were replaced to provide the crew greater protection against the weather.
With the advent of the 36 and later the 38 classes, the 35s spent the greater part of their lives on northern services.
Withdrawn in 1967, locomotive 3526 in that year became the first exhibit to be painted by the NSW Rail Transport Museum, forerunner of Transport Heritage NSW. 3526 is one of the few NSW locomotives to have been painted in blue livery for a time, while hauling the Caves Express services from Sydney to Mount Victoria in the 1930s. Following a major overhaul completed in 2018, it now appears in Brunswick Green livery with red and yellow trim.
Designed to be able to operate non-stop for distances of up to 100 miles (161km), the first of the 36-class entered service in 1925. Nos 1 to 10 were built by the NSW Government Railways at Eveleigh (Redfern, Sydney), while the remaining 65 were constructed by Clyde Engineering.
An interesting quirk saw the Clyde-built locomotives finished before the NSWGR built engines, which meant that 3610 was the last of the class to enter service.
The 36 class locomotives were originally fitted with round-top boilers, which gave them a somewhat porcine appearance, and this, coupled with difficulties in firing their narrow fireboxes and the regular repairs required to the boilers, led to the nickname ‘Pig’. Most of them were re-boilered with Belpaire fireboxes and given new style cabs to match during their service lives, although the nickname remained.
With the 36 class came the introduction to the NSW railways of the ‘turret’ style tenders, which gave the crews better vision when travelling in reverse.
Locomotive 3642 entered traffic in January 1926 and was withdrawn from active service in November 1969 before being retained for the NSW Rail Museum.
Locomotive 3642 is set to be overhauled in the near future, so it can continue to support heritage train experiences. In the meantime, 3642 is maintained in operational condition so the engine can be utilised for occasional events, including the Thirlmere Festival of Steam.
Locomotive 3801 and its classmates introduced a new era in train travel in New South Wales when they entered service from 1943.
With the 4-6-2 or ‘Pacific’ wheel arrangement, the 38 class were faster, more powerful than their predecessors and were able to haul more carriages while reducing travel times on express services.
The 38 class were a particularly successful and reliable design. They were popular with railway management, with their drivers and with their firemen, whose work with the shovel was amply rewarded.
The first five were built by Clyde Engineering to a semi-streamlined design. The 25 post-war locomotives in the class, built by the NSWGR at Eveleigh and Cardiff workshops between 1945 and 1949, dispensed with streamlining. The 38 class engines averaged more than 135,000 km per annum in the early 1950s when they were used exclusively on express services; they were mainly withdrawn and replaced by diesels in the late 1960s.
3801’s status as leader of the class was first recognised in 1962 when it made the last run of steam on the Melbourne Limited Express from Junee to Albury. Returned to green livery in 1963, it set a new speed record from Sydney to Newcastle in the following year, covering the 167 kilometres in 2 hours, 1 minute and 51 seconds. Assisted by 3813 it hauled the first steam train from Sydney to Perth in 1970.
Withdrawn from regular service later that year, 3801 continued to run in preservation. It has made many more interstate journeys, to each mainland state. It was prominent in the 1988 Bicentenary celebrations and frequently double-headed with international visitor the ‘Flying Scotsman’ in 1988 and 1989.
The need for boiler repairs and other maintenance saw 3801 withdrawn from service in 2007. Its overhaul proved to be lengthy and extensive; 3801 was relaunched at Sydney's Central Station in March 2021 by Her Excellency, the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of NSW. In September 2022 the locomotive created more headlines when it ran through the city railway and steamed across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
3801 truly deserves its status as a Legend in Steam.
With a length of 33 metres, 32 wheels and weighing 264 tonnes, 6029 is the largest operating locomotive in the southern hemisphere.
The 60 class engines adopted a concept developed by H. W. Garratt, whereby the boiler and driver’s cab is in the centre of the locomotive and there are two separate sets of wheels and motion, one at each end. The front engine unit carries a water tank, and a rear engine unit carries the coal bunker and another water tank. The weight of the locomotive is thus spread over many axles. For New South Wales, this meant that these engines could haul longer and heavy trains on lightly-built country lines.
The last steam locomotives introduced into NSW, the 60 class were manufactured by Beyer, Peacock and Co. in Manchester UK. The first of the class did not enter service until 1952. The original order for 25 locomotives was later increased to 50; but a change of mind as the advantages of diesels were recognised, meant that only 42 locomotives were delivered with a further 5 supplied unassembled, for use as spares.
The lack of turning facilities in country areas – the 60 class needed longer turntables, or triangles – meant that by far the greatest use of these locomotives was on main lines. Even then the few turntables on the system with the capacity to turn them, meant that they often ran in reverse. From 1958, a number of them, including 6029, were fitted with a second set of controls to allow the driver to face the direction of travel when travelling ‘bunker first’, denoted by DC - for dual controls - painted on the buffer beam. These locomotives also had their axle load increased to improve their tractive effort.
In their main line, heavy haulage roles the 60 class were a considerable success. They were the very last steam locomotives to run in regular operation on the NSW Government Railways; the last of the 60 class ended their service in the Newcastle area early in 1973. They had outlived the first of their successors, the 40 class diesels.
Locomotive 6029 entered service in April 1954, and received its dual controls in February 1959. It was withdrawn in 1972 having travelled just under a million kilometres during its working life. It was returned to service by the Australian Railway Historical Society (ACT Division) in 2015 and first appeared at the Thirlmere Festival of Steam to a record-breaking crowd in that year. In 2022 it was acquired for the state collection, the first purchase of a steam engine by the NSW Government for more than 60 years.
LOCOMOTIVE r 766
R766 was commissioned in 1952 as one of 70 members of the Victorian Railways R class 4-6-4 ‘Hudson’ main line passenger locomotives. These locomotives were designed by Victorian Railways and were urgently required in the post-World War 2 period, but construction was delayed by competing priorities.
Eventually construction was outsourced to the North British Locomotive Company, Glasgow, but, as with so many post-war steam locomotives orders, delivery ultimately came years after the locomotives were required. On entering service, the R class superseded the ageing A2 class 4-6-0 locomotives on fast passenger trains. However, the simultaneous arrival of first-generation diesels reduced their usage, and the R class was destined for relatively short lives and low mileages.
R766 is one of seven surviving R class locomotives. When withdrawn in 1968, many of its sisters had already been scrapped. After being placed on static display in Bendigo for several years, it was purchased by private interests and restored to operational condition for use on charter and enthusiast trains. In the 1990s the locomotive was maintained alongside Steamrail Victoria’s locomotive fleet at Newport Workshops and wore an attractive (but non-original) Canadian Red livery. After conversion to oil firing in the early 2000s, R766 was used successfully on weekend passenger train services between Melbourne and Warrnambool in south-western Victoria.
In May 2005, R766 was leased to the Hunter Valley Railway Trust for movement to Branxton NSW after being substantially converted to standard gauge by Steamrail in Melbourne. This significant work features a few modifications such as the replacement of the leading bogie spoked wheel centres with those of the disc variety. It was officially relaunched on standard gauge on 18 March 2022.
1064 Coal Grab CranE
1064 is a four-wheel self-propelled vertical-boiler coal grab, designed for coaling steam locomotives in smaller country locomotive depots which lacked more formal locomotive servicing facilities. It was constructed by the Austral Otis Engineering Company at their Alfred Harman Works, Port Melbourne in 1918 as one of a batch of four coal grabs and entered service as LO 39 with the NSWGR in August 1918. It was renumbered 1064 in the X10 class in the NSWGR's 1924 renumbering.
1064 finished its career with the NSWGR in June 1971 when it was withdrawn from Eveleigh Depot. It was transferred to the NSW Rail Transport Museum (now Transport Heritage NSW) in working order; however, it was later dismantled for rail transport to the (then) new museum at Thirlmere in 1975.
The boiler has recently been overhauled to enable 1064’s return to the Festival of Steam for the first time in many years.
The reassembly and repair of this machine after years of open storage is a great example of the high-quality restoration capabilities of the volunteers and staff at Transport Heritage NSW.
For all NSW Rail Museum related enquiries, including steam train rides, call 1300 11 55 99.