The International Steam Pages

Case Notes - Steam in Australia
South Maitland Railway Part 1, Bellbird

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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For other Australian tales please see:

10 class showing swivel seat and builder’s plate (Beyer Peacock 1920)

Bellbird & Pelton colliery were towards the outer reaches of the SMR. A pair of 10 class have loaded bogie hoppers ready to work to East Greta on 30th July 1980.

In August 1977 my brother Richard had been convinced to come along and film the action on our new super 8 camera. We visited Hexham and the Richmond Vale railway but only found a 10 class in steam, these had replaced the Kitson 2-8-2Ts and ROD 2-8-0s, although 2 of each class remained on the dump. Finding no line work scheduled we concentrated on the SMR network covering the East Greta to Caledonia section. 

My final visit to the line was in 1980, I had been checking out the Hunter valley red wines, steam locomotives were an afterthought which is a shame as there was some good action and nice scenery. The only photos I took were at the far end of the line between Caledonia and Bellbird. I came across a double header about to depart hauling the now standard rake of bogie hoppers and chased it into Caledonia where it crossed a single header on empties awaiting the line into Caledonia. The railway to Cessnock had been closed in 1973, but the line to Pelton colliery was still in use.

Departing Bellbird crossing Wollombi Rd en route to Caledonia and East Greta Junction.on 30th July 1980.

Double headers and bogie wagons at Caledonia on 17th August 1977. Whilst the departing train impressed me blasting out of the yard the crew on the opposite working were letting their colleagues know it was a limp wrist affair!

A single header on a load of empties at Caledonia  on 30th July 1980.

A double header climbs Caledonia bank with empties on 17th August 1977.

Caledonia bank saw trains completing some impressive climbs of the grade into the yard. The engines took water and were often held for a cross with a loaded hopper train blasting out of the yard; most impressive!

Loaded trains could be chased to Neath and Weston as they headed for the East Greta inter-change yards. (Covered in the next posting).

Rob Dickinson