Who Built the Steam Locomotives That Were Used in Australia?
Here is an almost complete list of the builders of the steam locomotives that were used throughout Australia.
I say “almost” because I am sure that are records of some steam locomotives that were built for contractors or private companies that have not survived the passage of time.
I am also sure that there are some builders’ names here that you won’t recognise. When I set about compiling this list I thought I knew the names of most of the companies but once I started delving into the industrial locomotives that came to Australia I soon came to realise how ignorant I was.
Compiling a list like this from scratch could take years because, even in this day and age when so much information is available online, there is still so much information that is still only available by searching physical records and that can be difficult when they are thousands of kilometres away.
Fortunately there are many who have gone before me and, while they haven’t compiled a list like this, they have left details that made this task so much easier and thank them and acknowledge their work in the Bibliography.
Who bought them
Despite the fact that the State governments, and later the Federal Government, at times, exercised some control over overseas spending orders for locomotives from overseas suppliers came from both state government systems and private operators too.
Listing the State systems that bought steam locomotives is relatively simple and I’ve provided that information in abbreviated form under the name of each manufacturer. Listing the name non-government buyer would be much harder and so an entry that appears as “Pr” simply means that the manufacturer also supplied at least one non-government buyer.1
How they are listed
I should also point out that, in the early days, some builders supplied locomotives for private companies that soon became state-owned and then there were some locomotives that passed through the hands of a number of owners over the years.
For example, may of the locomotives that operated on the North Australia Railway were bought second hand from other states and reclassified. Those locos are only included in the list for their original purchaser with the exception of the TGR Ds class tank locomotives
Yes, there is always an exception. The four DS tank locomotives were purchased second-hand from New Zealand and so they are included here.2
CAR – Central Australia Railway
CR – Commonwealth Railways
NAR – North Australian Railway
NSWGR – New South Wales Government Railways
QR – Queensland Railways
SAR – South Australian Railways
TGR – Tasmanian Government Railways
VR – Victorian Railways
WAGR – West Australian Government Railways
Pr – private owners
A. Borsig of Berlin, Germany
Alfred Harman of Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Andrew Barclay and Sons of Kilmarnock, Scotland
CR – Pr
Andrew B Byers
Armstrong Whitworth & Co of the UK
QR – SAR – Pr
Arnold Jung Lokomotivfabrik GmbH, Jungenthal, Germany
Australian Iron & Steel of Cringila, NSW, Australia
Aveling and Porter of Rochester, England
Aveling and Porter are well known for their agricultural and construction equipment and this piece of equipment was originally built as a traction engine for use in Western Australia.
At some point it was converted to a rather unusual looking 2-2-0 locomotive.
Avonside Engine Co of Bristol, England
QR – WAGR – Pr
Baldwin Lima Hamilton Corporation
NSWGR – Pr
Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, USA
CR – NSWGR – QR – SAR – VR – Pr
Beyer Peacock & Co of Manchester, England
NSWGR – QR – SAR – TGR – VR – WAGR – Pr
Beyer Peacock built the TGR B Class locos in 1890. Here we see B14 still in service in Hobart in 1943. Photo courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.
Click the link to read more about Beyer Peacock steam locomotives in Australia
BHP Newcastle of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Black Hawthorn & Co of Gateshead, England
Bundaberg Foundry of Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia
This company built 8 x 610mm locomotives (1 x 0-4-2T and 7 x 0-6-2T) between 1950 and 1953 for various sugar mills along the Queensland coast. These locomotives were based on a John Fowler design from 1934.
Climax of the USA
Clyde Engineering Co of Clyde, NSW, Australia
CR – NSWGR – QR – SAR – TGR – Pr
Davenport of Davenport, USA
Day Engineering Co. of South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Day Engineering appears to have built one rather unusual looking 0-6-0+0-6-0 geared locomotive for Russell’s Timber Mill at Gembrook, Victoria.
Decauville of France
Dubs & Co of Glasgow, Scotland
NSWGR – QR – SAR – WAGR – Pr
Dubs built these handsome 2-8-2 Class 8D15 tank locomotives for the Queensland Railways in 1884. Photo courtesy of Queensland State Library
Evans Anderson Phelan & Co of Queensland, Australia
Fox Walker & Co of Bristol, England*
Fox, Walker and Co commenced business in 1864 and continued to trade until 1880 when it was taken over by Peckett & Sons.
*I am now not convinced that any locos from this company came to Australia
Franco-Belge Corp of Belgium
Fulton Foundry of South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
George England & Co of London
VR – Pr
Great Central Railway, Manchester, England
During WWI various locomotive builders, including the GCR, built locomotives for the Railway Operating Division (ROD) of the British Army.
After the war John Brown purchased a number of 2-8-0 ROD locomotives for his Richmond Main Colliery. Included in his purchase were the first 3 ROD locomotives built by the GCR.
It’s reported that the ROD locomotives built by the GCR were not assigned builders numbers
Haine Saint Pierre of Belgium
Hawthorn Leslie of Newcastle-on-Tyne, England
Henry Vale & Sons of Pyrmont, NSW, Australia
NSWGR – Pr
Henschel & Son of Kassel, Germany
The loco that came to Australia from this manufacturer was originally built for use in South Africa. It was subsequently purchased by the Bennett Brook Railway in Western Australia
H K Porter & Co of Pittsburgh, USA
Hudswell Clarke of Leeds, England
CR – Pr
Hunslet Engineering Company of Leeds, England
James Cross of St Helens, England
James Martin & Co of Gawler, South Australia
CR – SAR – WAGR – Pr
A member of the SAR V Class. These well tank locomotives were built by Beyer Peacock and James Martin & Co – Photo courtesy of State Library of South Australia B46528-27
J. A. Maffei of Munich, Germany
J G Robinson of the UK
John Fowler & Co of Leeds, England
Kerr Stewart of Stoke-on-Trent, England
Kitson & Co of Leeds, England4
NSWGR – QR – SAR – VR – Pr
Langlands of Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Lima Machine Works of the USA
Locomotive and Machine Co of Montreal, Canada
Lokomotivefabrik Krauss & Co of Munich, Germany
TGR – Pr
Click the link to read more about Krauss locomotives in Australia
Lokomotivfabrik Erfut of Germany
Markham & Co of Chesterfield, England
This company appears to have built a total of 24 locos but only one, a vertical-boiler loco, made it’s way to Australia and is now preserved at the Tasmanian Transport Museum in Hobart.
Manning Wardle of Leeds, England
Midland Railway Workshops of Western Australia
Mort’s Dock of Sydney
Munro & Co of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Naysmith Wilson & Co
QR – WAGR
Neilson & Co of Glasgow, Scotland
NSWGR – WAGR – Pr
No. 3 of the Emu Bay and Mt Bischoff Railway in Tasmania. Neilson & Co built this 0-6-4T in 1888. Photo courtesy of Australian National Archives.
New Zealand Railways of New Zealand
North British Co of Glasgow, Scotland
CR – NSWGR – VR – WAGR – Pr
NSWGR’s Cardiff Workshops of Cardiff, NSW Australia
NSWGR’s Eveleigh Workshops of Eveleigh, NSW, Australia
Orenstein and Koppel of Germany
This company built locomotives for a number of private operators including BHP, the Mt Magnet Mining Company in Tasmania and the Port Douglas Shire Council in Queensland.
Parkinson & Monaghan of Sydney, NSW, Australia
This firm only built one locomotive – a standard gauge 0-4-0T loco for G Wilcox, the contractor building the Manning River breakwater. This loco subsequently passed into the hands of the Public Works Department
Peckett and Sons Ltd of Bristol, England
Peckett and Sons took over the business of Fox, Walker & Company in 1880 and continued to operate until 1961.
The company supplied 3 locomotives to private companies in Australia:
1 x 1067mm gauge 0-4-0ST was delivered to Mt Morgan Company Ltd for service at their gold mine at Mt Morgan in Queensland in 1905.
1 x 1067mm gauge 0-4-0ST was delivered to the same company for service at the same location in 1908.
1 x 610mm gauge 0-4-0ST was delivered to the West Melbourne Gasworks in 1926 and is now in operational condition at Puffing Billy.
Perry Engineering Co of Mile End, South Australia, Australia
TGR – Pr
Phoenix Foundry of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
VR Y Class 0-6-0 locomotive built by the Phoenix Foundry. Photo courtesy of the Victorian State Library
Phoenix Foundry of Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
QR Ipswich Workshops of Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
R & W Hawthorn Leslie & Co of Newcastle-on-Tyne, England
Ransom, Sims and Jefferies of Ipswich, England
This is another instance of a locomotive that was originally built as a traction engine for use in Western Australia but later converted to a 2-2-0WT.
Rhodes Timber Co’s Mt George Tramway of Taree, NSW, Australia
This company built one locomotive for its own use.
Robert Stephenson & Co
NSWGR – SAR – VR – Pr
Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns Ltd of Newcastle-on-Tyne, England
TGR – Pr
Robertson, Martin and Smith of Melbourne
Robinson Bros, Campbell & Sloss of South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
SAR’s Islington Workshops of Islington, South Australia, Australia
Sentinel Industrial Locomotives Ltd, Shropshire, England5.
CR (NAR) – TGR – WAGR – Pr
Click the link to read more about Sentinel Steam Locomotives
Sharp Stewart of Glasgow, Scotland
TGR – Pr
Slaughter Grunning of Bristol, England
Societe Anonyme de Gouillet of Belgium
This company built 1 x 3′ 8½” 0-6-0T locomotive for the Illawarra Coal Company in 1883
Societe Franco Belge de Materiel de Chemins de Fer of France
SAR – QR
This company built 20 1067mm 4-8-2+2-8-4 Beyer Garratt locomotives, under licence from Beyer Peacock, for the Queensland Railways in 1951 and 10 1067mm 4-8-2+2-8-4 Beyer Garratt locomotives, under licence from Beyer Peacock, for the South Australian Railways in 1953.
Societe Cockerill Seraing of Belgium
This company built 1 x 3′ 8½” 0-6-0T locomotive for the Illawarra Coal Company in 1885
Societe Decauville Aine of France
This company built 4 x 610 mm 0-4-0T locos (b/n 623 of 1883, 624 of 1883, 686 of 1883 and 737 of 1883) for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company for use at their Homebush Mill in Queensland.
At that time Decauville’s locomotive construction was contracted out to Societe Anonyme des Hautes Forneaux, Usines et Charbonnages de Marcinelle et Couillet … aka Couillet … of Belgium where they were also given a builder’s number (16 of 1883, 17 of 1883, 18 of 1883, 24 of 1884)3
Stahlbahnwerke Freudenstein of Berlin, Germany
This company commenced operation in 1891 trading in track and other railway materials.
Four years later the company acquired a small factory and began building locomotives but by 1905 the business was struggling and was taken over by Orenstein and Koppel.
The company may have built as many as 250 locomotives but the exact number is not known.
Two of those locomotives (b/n 175 of 1904 and 217 of 1905) came to Australia. Both were 0-4-0WT locos and both were originally used at the Golden Ridge Mine in Kalgoorlie.
Both locomotives are still in existence and one (b/n 175 of 1904) is on display at the Rail Heritage Museum in Bassendean WA
Thomas Green & Son of Leeds, England
Thompson Engineering & Pipe Co Ltd of Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia
CAR – VR
Toowoomba Foundry of Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
CR – QR
Vale & Lacy of Sydney, NSW Australia
NSWGR – Pr
VR’s Ballarat Workshops of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
VR’s Bendigo Workshops of Bendigo, Victoria, Australia
VR’s Newport Workshops of Newport, Victoria, Australia
VR C Class 2-8-0 freight loco built at VR’s Newport Workshops. Photo courtesy of the Victorian State Library
VR’s Williamstown Workshops of Williamstown Victoria, Australia
Victoria Foundry, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
Vulcan Foundry of Lancashire, England*
NSWGR – QR – TGR – VR – WAGR – Pr
* Not to be confused with the Vulcan Iron Works of Wilkes Barr, Pennsylvania, USA or
AG Vulcan of Stettin-Bredow, Germany (also referred to as Vulkan)
Click the link to read more about Vulcan Foundry steam locomotives in Australia.
Walkers Ltd of Maryborough, Queensland, Australia
CR – QR – SAR – TGR
W. G. Bagnall of Castletown, Stafford, England
This company was founded in 1875 and ceased trading in 1962. It was taken over by English Electric
William Fairbairn of Manchester, England
SAR – Pr
Yorkshire Engine Co of Sheffield, England
QR – Pr
Yorkshire Engine Co of Sheffield, England
QR – Pr
Unknown Locomotive Builder
We have a locomotive on display at a museum in Gin Gin Qld, but we don’t know who built it.
The loco is Bunyip, an 0-6-0WT that commenced work at the Wallaville Sugar Mill near Gin Gin on 31st August, 1896 and was out of use around 1962.
The mill closed some years after that and no records have been found that might indicate where the locomotive came from.
Bunyip the loco on display at Gin Gin
While the appearance of the locomotive could place it as a product of Krauss it differs in a number respects to other locos produced by Krauss around this time.
Several noted light railway historians have thoroughly inspected the loco and they were unable to find any identifying marks or brands that could identify who built the locomotive.
1Locomotives built for government departs, such as the NSW Public Works Department, have also been included in the private category.
2There were four tank locomotives that the TGR purchased from New Zealand. These four were part of the 41 strong Wf class. 26 of these locomotives were built by the New Zealand Railways Workshops and 15 by A G Price Ltd, a New Zealand Company. I have not been able to identify the builder of the four that came to Australia and so they are simply listed as coming from New Zealand Railways.
3 Browning, J 2003, ‘French Connection’, Light Railways, June, pp. 3-10
4This listing includes the SAR’s two 2-2-0WT steam motor coaches. One of these was subsequently purchased by the CAR and became known as the “Coffee Pot”.
5This listing includes the steam-powered railcars built for the NAR and the TGR.
Andrews, Brian R 1979, ‘A History of the Former R.O.D. Locomotives used on the Richmond Vale Line’, Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, vol. 30, no. 497, pp. 49-68.
Armstrong J and Verhoeven G H. ‘The Innisfail Tramway, 2000 Light Railway Research Society of Australia. Australian Print Group
Browning, J,& Webber, B. Built by Bundaberg Foundry, 2012. Australian Narrow Gauge Railway Museum Society, Woodford, Queensland.
Browning, J 2016, ‘More on Crystal Salt’, Light Railways 249, p. 19.
Clark, M H W 1980, ‘Reminiscences of the Upper Ferntree Gully – Gembrook Narrow Gauge Line’, Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, vol. 31, no. 510, pp. 69-83.
Cooley, Thomas C T. Railroading in Tasmania. L G Shea, Government Printer, Tasmania
Cooper G & Goss G. Tasmanian Railways 1871 – 1996, 125 Years. 1996. C.G. Publishing Company. Regal Press, Launceston Tasmania
Fluck, R, Marshall, B, Wilson, J. Locomotives and Railcars of the Commonwealth Railways, 1996. Port Dock Station Railway Museum. Gresley Publishing, Welland, South Australia
Griffiths, David. B.H.P. Locomotives. Railmac Publications. Kitchener Press P/L, Beverley, South Australia.
McCarth,y K. Gazatteer of Industrial Steam Locomotives, Illawarra District N.S.W. Australian Railway Historical Society (N.S.W. Division) 1983. No printer listed.
Oberg, L Locomotives of Australia – 1850s ~ 1900s Third Edition 1996, Kangaroo Press
Australian Steam Website: australiansteam.com
Beyer Peacock Website: beyerpeacock.co.uk. Beyer Peacock Production List V1 04.08.02
Industrial Railway Society Website: irsociety.co.uk
Private correspondence with Peter McKenzie of Westbury, Tasmania