Statically restored as "Thomas the Tank Engine"


This photo is kindly provided by Malcolm Cluett and shows 1803 posing as Thomas during the NSWRTM's first  "Thomas the Tank Engine" weekend over the weekend of 2-3 March 2009.

NSWGR history

1803 started life as R 287, the 3rd of 6 members of the R 285 class of tank locomotives built for Sydney suburban work.  It became 1803 of the Z-18 class in the 1924 renumbering scheme.

The Z-18 class were ultimately displaced from Sydney suburban work by larger and more powerful locomotives, particularly the C-30 class 4-6-4T engines, but found further use as shunting locomotives and other miscellaneous duties. An early assignment in this capacity was carriage shunting at Sydney Terminal.  1803 ultimately finished its working days in 1962 shunting the many wharves and sidings of Port Kembla.

Withdrawal & Preservation

Following withdrawal 1803 ended up on the Enfield scrap roads with less lucky locomotives; I have seen a photo of it marshaled with other dead engines including the last member of the 34-class (for which a preservation bid by the formative NSWRTM failed due to the value of the copper firebox).  Fortunately 1803 was added to the collection of the NSWRTM and became an exhibit at the Enfield museum site. Following the closure of the Enfield site, 1803 was transferred to the NSWRTM's new Thirlmere site on 17 June 1975 in a train hauled by 5461 and including 6040 and 1307.

Unfortunately 1803 had never received any restoration work and by 1983 appeared heavily weathered and rust-streaked.  It was shunted onto the long term storage sidings at Thirlmere in 1983, where it subsequently remained largely out of public sight for the next 25 years.  This locomotive was black-oiled & lubricated by the webmaster in 1989.

2008 - 2009 Static Restoration

1803's old boiler lagging was removed by specialist contractors during 2008, together with several other NSWRTM locomotives treated at this time.  I believe the external boiler barrel was found to be severely pitted after more than 40 years of storage.  However the NSWRTM is planning a series of "Thomas the Tank Engine" events for 2009 and loco 1803 has been selected for static restoration to represent the famous Sodor resident No. 1 "Thomas". 

A visit to the NSWRTM on 23 November 2008 found 1803 on the restoration road in the workshop area, and being fitted with new boiler clothing.  The side tanks had been removed and undercoated in "Thomas Blue" as seen in the photos below.  Static restoration of 1803 should be complete prior to the first Thomas event in May 2009.

This view shows 1803 in storage on the long-term storage sidings at Thirlmere on 17 January 2004. 

A line of rust-holes can be seen forming along the bottom of the side tanks.

At this stage 1803 was fitted with a rather stout D(50) class chimney.

This image dated 17 March 2003 provides a further view of 1803 in storage at the NSWRTM.

A "D50" marking can just be made out on the front of the chimney.

This view shows 1803 on the Restoration Road at the NSWRTM on 23 November 2008, with new boiler-clothing being fitted.

A taller and more ornate chimney has been fitted.

This view of 23 November 2008 shows 1803's tanks in an undercoat of "Thomas blue" livery .

These tanks have patch panels added; comparison with earlier photos suggest these may have been added in the current static restoration.


Page updated:  20 November 2010

Government Railways:











Private & Industrial Railways: