The International Steam Pages

Case Notes - Steam in Australia
Hexham and the Richmond Vale Railway.
1972, end of steam on NSWGR-2

Terry Case writes about his travels for steam. Further tales will follow from time to time covering more of Australia, India, South Africa, Indonesia and Pakistan.

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Visiting Hexham was a MUST, it was part of the J & A Brown’s coal mining, railway and shipping empire, which by 1972 was in terminal decline. It was home to a fascinating array of locomotives, including ex ROD 2-8-0s. In the early 1920s John Brown decided the old 0-6-4T Mersey tanks could be replaced by more modern machines and initially purchased 3 RODs, which arrived on the railway in 1924. The original 3 were built by North British in 1919, 13 more were purchased, including 3 which had been built at the Great Central’s works in Gorton.

On 16th May 1972, ROD 13 (NBL 1919) was stored with 8 other members of the class and other surplus engines.

On my first visit to the railway on 16th May 1972, two RODs numbers 23 and 24 were at work on coal trains. I had heard that fans were not welcome here but I found the reverse, however whilst photographing a train approaching the yard area I was nearly bitten by a large snake that had been cut in two by a previous train. The snake was still alive and bloody annoyed, I backed off only to step on its still writing lower body; my snake paranoia hit extreme levels! On the same visit Kitson 2-8-2Ts 9 “Pelaw Main” and 10 “Richmond Main” were being kept busy on pilot operations. Brown’s purchased three of the engines, number 9 was built in 1908, whilst 10 & 11 were built in 1911, (number 11 was scrapped in 1968).

Kitson (1908) 2-8-2T No 9 “Pelaw Main” 

On 19th December 1972 Number 9 “Pelaw Main” having crossed the swamp enters the yard.

On 16th May 1972, ROD 23 (Gorton 1919) gently simmers whilst waiting its next assignment.

Some of the first 2nd hand imports included 4 ex Mersey Railway “Liverpool tanks”. These outside frame 0-6-4Ts had their condensing gear removed. Mersey Railway number 1 “Major” was built by Beyer Peacock in 1885 and sold to Brown’s in 1907 becoming their number 5. It is now preserved by the RTM. 

On 16th May 1972, one of the Kitson tanks pushes a load to the washery.

On 19th December 1972, ex NSWGR 3013 heads out towards the swamp. This 4-6-4T was built by Beyer Peacock in 1903 and purchased by Brown’s in 1967.

On 16th May 1972, Standard Goods 2-8-0 NSWGR 5485 passes Hexham station exchange sidings whilst heading towards Maitland.

My 3 visits to the area in 1972 all used trains as my means of getting around, this meant I could not explore the outer reaches of the mine railways at this time.

Rob Dickinson