10 Class

In 1911 the first of what would become fourteen 2-8-2 tank locomotives were ordered from Beyer, Peacock & Co. Ltd. by the East Greta Coal Mining Company (EGCM).  Contrary to popular belief, they were not designed to match the NSWGR T and TF class (later D50 & D53) standard goods locomotives, as these machines were not being used to connect with the coal mine traffic, but rather because Beyer Peacock had on hand the tooling for the 2-8-0 tender locomotives, it was much easier and cheaper to create a modified machine from the existing design.  Nor was the specification identical to the standard goods locos, it included higher working boiler pressure and a smaller heating area.

At the time of their introduction, the 10 class had the highest tractive effort of any two-cylinder locomotive in Australia. In 1918 the Hebburn Coal Mining Company and the EGCM amalgamated their respective railway interests, creating the South Maitland Railways Pty Ltd. By this time four 10 class were in service. Ten more were built in a number of batches from 1920 to 1925, those that entered service in 1920 having been delayed due to World War One. Because of the withdrawal of older machines and the amalgamation of the two companies locomotive fleets, the numbers of the 10 class were not all consecutive, being numbered as follows; 10, 17-20, 22-28, 30 & 31.

The first five locomotives were originally built with a small 2.3 ton coal bunker, but during the 1940’s these were modified to match the later locomotives 4 ton bunkers.  From 1973 the first locomotive was fitted with an extension to the bunker, enlarging its capacity yet further. Most of the class were to eventually receive this extension.

Many were withdrawn by 1967 due to export downturns, at the lowest point only numbers 18, 20, 23, 25, 30 and 31 were in service. After this time, export demand began to increase, and all were eventually rebuilt and returned to service, after a brief investigation by the SMR of the cost of purchasing diesel locomotives. The late 1960’s – early 70’s accounts for many of the modifications seen over the period, although most are relatively minor. Despite this, due to the simple nature of the design, these small changes have a noticeable visual effect.  These include different rivet patterns on the side tanks, different smoke boxes, location of the sanding boxes and of course the coal bunkers.

All were withdrawn from service at the closure of the South Maitland Railways (SMR) in 1983, except for four locomotives which continued to work the Richmond Vale Railway (RVR) until 1987. However due to the large number of available engines, not all four locomotives at RVR were always the same ones; they were rotated through as maintenance demands required.  All fourteen locomotives worked on the RVR at some point between 1973 to 1987; however for some of them, this was only a few months. At the end, numbers 22, 24, 25 and 30 had the distinction of being the last steam locomotives in operation for commercial service in Australia.

When the RVR closed all fourteen ten class were earmarked for preservation.  Over the last two decades a number of these locomotives have been returned to service, although obviously not all at the same time.  Some have been repainted in colour schemes that the class never carried whilst in commercial service, whilst one, number 18, has been modified a number of times over the years.

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