Stored for the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum


This photo (courtesy of Mark Newton) shows 5353 at Dorrigo in 1999.


New South Wales Government Railways, (Eveleigh Workshops)

Builder’s Number & Year

80 of 1913

Wheel Arrangement


No. in class



A Royal Commission held in 1905 recommended that local Australian industry be favoured for railway locomotive construction.  Following from the successful T(524) / (D)50 class 2-8-0 freight locomotives designed by Beyer Peacock & Co, the New South Wales Government Railways devised an improved version which became known as the TF(939) class.  190 TF(939) locomotives were constructed, 160 by Clyde Engineering and 30 by the New South Wales Government Railways’ Eveleigh Workshops.

The TF (939) / (D)53 class were designed in both a saturated steam version and a superheated version, using tapered boilers and extended smokeboxes.  They were easily distinguished from the earlier T(524) / (D)50 class by their raised running boards, with a distinctive curved upward step at the smokebox.  A key difference was the addition of flanges on all driving wheels, whereas the earlier T(524) class only had flanges on the leading and trailing driving wheel.  (Indeed the moniker TF is ostensibly derived from “T-class with Flanges”).  Alas the TF (939) / (D)53 class initially did not live up to expectations and railwaymen nicknamed the TF’s as “Terrible Failures”, however the problems were ironed out and most settled down to long and successful careers on main line freight duties throughout the state.  It is interesting to note that 23 saturated examples were scrapped during the early stages of World War 2 (despite the loco shortages that quickly eventuated) but the remainder of the class were progressively rebuilt with superheated parallel boilers of the same type as the later D(55) class.

Preserved loco 5353 was originally issued to traffic as TF 1081 on 29 November 1913 and, renumbered to 5353 of the (D)53 class in 1924, went on to become one of the last NSWGR steam locomotives when withdrawn from Port Waratah depot in December 1972 with 1,822,290km of accumulated service.  It was purchased in 1974 from the locomotive graveyard at Enfield Depot for the collection of the proposed Hunter Valley Steam Railway & Museum (HVSR&M).  5132 and 5353 departed Enfield on 22 October 1974 when towed by Beyer-Garratt 6039 to Rhondda Colliery for storage.

The HVSR&M later changed its focus to reopening the Dorrigo branch line on the NSW north coast, so 5132 and other exhibits were rail hauled to Glenreagh in late 1983 and then to Dorrigo in 1986.  5353 and other Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum locomotive exhibits have since been stored on the former potato siding in Dorrigo station yard.  Like other Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum locos, 5353 regularly receives a coat of black oil to provide protection from the elements and thus remains very much as it did when retired from NSWGR service.

The Commonwealth Railways also selected the TF(939) design for their KA class locomotives for freight service across the Nullarbor plain.  Details of the KA class locomotives can be found on Chris Drymalik’s excellent Comrails website.

An excellent resource for further reading on the TF(939) / (D)53-class is “Standards In Steam – The 53 & 55 Class” by Ron Preston.  Technical details for the TF(939) / (D)53-class locomotives can also be found on Wikipedia.

Unfortunately the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum is not open to the public and hence access to their collection is restricted.

5353 stored on the former potato siding at the Dorrigo station yard on 24 January 2004.

This view shows the difference between various tenders attached to standard goods locos;

5353 (left) has a ComEng turret tender, 5132 (middle) has a shorter Mort’s Dock turret tender while 5069 (right) has the lower 3650-gallon tender.




“Standards in Steam – the 53 & 55 Class” by R. G. Preston,

Published by Eveleigh Press, 2000.


"A Compendium of New South Wales Steam Locomotives" compiled by Alex Grunbach,

published by the Australian Railway Historical Society, New South Wales Division, 1989.


Kramer, J. 'The Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum - an Illustrated Guide',

published by the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum, 1987.


‘Steam Locomotive Data’ July 1974 edition, compiled by J. H. Forsyth for the

Public Transport Commission of NSW.


Wikipedia entry for the NSWGR D53 class, retrieved 16 June 2015


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Page updated:  11 July 2015

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