Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Museum


5461 slumbers in the sector house at Valley Heights on 8 October 2006, in company with electric locomotive 4601.


The Clyde Engineering Co Ltd,

Granville NSW

Builder’s Number & Year

210 of 1916

Wheel Arrangement


No. in class



Standard Goods engine 5461 was originally issued to traffic as TF 1174 on 14 November 1916 as one of the New South Wales Government Railways’ TF(939) class 2-8-0 freight locomotives.  The TF(939) class was a locally-designed and built development of the earlier Beyer Peacock & Co designed T(524) class, with changes including the addition of flanges to all driving wheels (indeed the moniker TF is ostensibly derived from “T-class with Flanges”).  The TF(939) class were reclassified as (D)53 in the NSWGR 1924 renumbering, with TF 1174 becoming 5461.  190 TF(939) / (D)53 locomotives were constructed, 160 by Clyde Engineering and 30 by the New South Wales Government Railways’ Eveleigh Workshops.  Early class members were built with saturated boilers but 5461 was one of the later deliveries provided with a superheater.

As built, the TF(939) / D(53) class proved unpopular with railwaymen, who rechristened the TF’s as “Terrible Failures”.  Preserved loco 5461 has an unlikely claim to fame as engine crews regarded it as the worst of them all; in today’s parlance it would have been described as a lemon.  However the problems with the TF(939) / (D)53 class engines in general, and 5461 in particular, were overcome in time and the class settled down to useful main-line freight service.  Most of the class were withdrawn and scrapped in the 1960’s.  While 5461 was condemned on 21 October 1968, it was retained for the collection of the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum (NSWRTM) at Enfield Depot, Sydney, later transferring in 1975 to their new site at Thirlmere.

5461 remained an operational exhibit at the NSWRTM during the 1970's and was a stalwart of the operational fleet in the early 1980’s.  (The webmaster has fond memories of this engine plodding from Sydney Central to Thirlmere on the “Thirlmere Flyer” trains of the period.)  With the return to service of faster and more powerful steam locomotives 5910 and 3642, 5461 was withdrawn from NSWRTM operational duties in 1985 and placed on static display at Thirlmere.

Change came in 1996 when 5461 was transferred to the NSWRTM’s outpost in the Blue Mountains, the Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Museum.  I understand that 5461 had been allocated to the Valley Heights loco depot at one stage during its career; this depot consists of a sector roundhouse and is situated at the foot of the most difficult section of the Great Western Railway, providing assistant / banking engines for west-bound / down trains as they climbed to Katoomba against 1:33 grades and continuous reverse curves of 8-chain radius.

While being prepared for transfer to Valley Heights in 1996, 5461’s Standard Turret Tender was swapped with the 5595’s “Wampu” 4,000 gallon tender.  (Commonwealth Engineering built 201 “Standard Turret Tenders” of 5,000 gallons capacity for the NSWGR in the 1950’s to replace older, life-expired tenders of the 3,650 and 4,000 gallon “Wampu” types.  The Turret Tender paired with 5461 features two long gouges down the right hand side, presumably following an accident!)   I understand (from speaking with workshop staff at Thirlmere at the time) the tender swap was done for operational reasons as there was some consideration to 5595 being returned to service and the Turret Tender was younger and in better condition.  (While both (D)55 and some D(53) engines operated with Wampu tenders, the original tender pairing perhaps better reflects the more usual historical pairing and hence the two tenders could one day be swapped back, with the Wampu tender returned to Thirlmere for display behind 5595.)

5461 has been statically displayed on one of the roundhouse roads at Valley Heights since 1996 and has been well cared for by the volunteer workers there.  During 2008 its old boiler lagging was removed at Valley Heights by specialist contractors.  The boiler clothing has since been replaced and 5461 has received a quality cosmetic restoration by the volunteers at Valley Heights.

As an aside, a spare (D)53 class boiler (Tab 5476A) is also held in store by the NSWRTM Thirlmere.

For more general information about the TF(939) / (D)53 class, refer to the entry for 5353.

This circa-1984 photo is courtesy of John Hurst  and shows 5461 paused on a special train near Bowral, in the NSW Southern Highlands.

5461’s Standard Turret Tender is prominent in this view, with the Commonwealth Engineering builder’s plate central to the tank.

A nice view of 5461 heading south on the Illawarra line and about to enter the Kiama tunnel.

This photo is via the collection of John Hurst and dated August 1973.

The following series of scanned photos show 5461 at Thirlmere on 3 March 1996.

It had recently been paired with 5595's Wampu tender in preparation for rail haulage to Valley Heights.

5461 looks on during the action at the NSWRTM Festival of steam on 3 March 1996.

5910 is on the loco shed road, 3642 is on the arrival road while 1709 is stabled with the demonstration freight train.

A further view of 5461 at Thirlmere on 3 March 1996; this view shows the high capacity “Wampu” bogie tender, the only survivor of this type.

The Wampu tenders were supplied with the (D)55 class to provide extended range for main-line freight duties.

While both (D)55 and some D(53) engines operated with Wampu tenders, the type is perhaps better remembered behind the D(55)’s such as 5595.

The builder's plate on the Commonwealth Engineering Turret Tender formerly attached to 5461, now paired with 5595.

The plate is stamped ‘No.69’ with the build date ‘14 October 1953’.



‘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.


‘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.


Webmaster's observation or comment


Page updated:  2 February 2016

Government Railways:











Private & Industrial Railways: