Goulburn Rail Heritage Centre


This view shows 5916 stored at the NSWRTM on 23 November 2008.

Boiler clothing and old lagging had recently been removed by specialist contractors.



Baldwin Lima Hamilton



Builder’s Number & Year

75579 of 1952



Wheel Arrangement




No. in class



5916 is one of twenty (D)59 class goods locomotives ordered by the New South Wales Government Railways (NSWGR) from Baldwin Lima Hamilton Corp, the famous American locomotive builders Baldwin having merged with Lima-Hamilton in December 1950.  The (D)59’s were ordered at a turbulent time in the history of Australian labour relations, with the 1949 coal strikes crippling the railways and hence the broader economy.  In response, the NSWGR specified the (D)59 class as oil-burners, while significant numbers of the earlier (D)55 class Standard Goods Engines were also converted to oil firing.  The NSWGR also specified short ‘bobtail’ tenders so the (D)59’s could be turned on 60’ turntables, but the design and manufacture of these tenders delayed the normally speedy delivery by Baldwin.  The class was placed in service between 30 August 1952 and 31 March 1953.

The (D)59 class display typical American locomotive features such as running plates located high above the driving wheels, a generous cab and external pipe runs, providing easy access during maintenance but at the expense of aesthetics.  The (D)59 design was a repeat of the United States Army Transport Corp (USATC) S200 type, designed and built for Second World War service in the Middle-East and deployed to Egypt, Palestine and Lebanon.  A number of S200 type locomotives ended up with the Italian Railways (FS Class 747), others in Iran (Trans-Iranian Railway class 42) and two batches were purchased by the Turkish Railways, where at least two survive including 46244 at Camlik Museum.  The similarity of these USATC S200 war locomotives to the NSWGR (D)59 class is immediately apparent from photographs, excepting the much shorter NSWGR bobtail tenders!  Perhaps larger tenders of the Turkish design would otherwise have been delivered.

The (D)59 class were well regarded by the NSWGR, with their power, acceleration and speed providing operational flexibility.  Due to these attributes they were often assigned to pick-up goods duties, particularly on the ‘short north’ main line from Sydney to Newcastle.  Most class members were converted to coal firing between 1962 and 1966, excepting 5918 (withdrawn following accident damage to its tender and progressively cannibalised for parts), 5908 & 5916.  The two surviving oil-burning locos 5908 & 5916 remain largely in their original configuration as first delivered by Baldwin Lima Hamilton; oil burning (D)59’s are easily distinguishable from the coal-fired conversions by the smaller smokebox door, which is made airtight by numerous ‘dogs’ around the circumference, together with the oil tank sitting high in tender.

Most (D)59 class members survived until very late in the steam era, with 5910 being the last in revenue traffic when condemned on 11 August 1972.  Some inactive (D)59’s survived a few more years, with 5905, 5915 and 5920 stored at Enfield Loco Depot until the final clear-out of that site in early 1975.

The authorative ‘Steam Locomotive Data’ (July 1974 edition) provides the following milestones for 5916:

In Service:

5 March 1953


October 1970

Distance Travelled:

641,304 km

The two remaining oil burners 5908 & 5916 last worked as shunters in Grafton and dodged the scrap heap by finding further use as stationary boilers at Broadmeadow Loco Depot, Newcastle from 1970.  5916 was transferred to Eveleigh Carriage Workshops in August 1974 for further stationary boiler use, with both 5908 & 5916 lasting in this capacity until 1977.

5916 was already derelict, rust streaked and missing some parts when it arrived at the NSWRTM Thirlmere around 1980.  It was relegated to the long-term storage sidings in 1983, where it remained largely out of sight to the general public.  An interesting feature in 5916’s cab was a large information board with firing and water treatment instructions for use as a stationary boiler.  5916 was occasionally used as a donor of motion parts for sister 5910 when that locomotive had been operational in the NSWRTM fleet.  It received some black-oil and lubrication in 1989 to help arrest deterioration.

5916's old boiler lagging was removed by specialist contractors during 2008, during which time the corroded boiler clothing sheets were removed.  This conservation treatment helps prevent pitting corrosion on the external surface of the boiler, while also removing dangerous insulation material.  The boiler clothing and related fittings were not replaced after this treatment.

In preparation for the redevelopment of the NSWRTM Thirlmere to the new ‘Trainworks’ museum, a number of exhibits were relocated to other sites.  5916, 5908 and 3085 were among this number, being moved to the Goulburn Rail Heritage Centre (within the historic Goulburn Roundhouse) on 27 November 2009, where they are now displayed on roundhouse roads.  Here it remains in unrestored condition, however at least it is in secure undercover storage in an appropriate setting.

Hopefully one day funds can be found to restore either 5916 or 5908, either statically or – preferably - as an operable exhibit.  I believe it would be a wonderful operating exhibit which would reflect some significant themes in period Australian history, including (as a USATC war locomotive design) the contribution America made to the region in World War Two and afterwards, and as an oil-burner, the 1949 coal strikes and following labour relations & political developments.

The definite history for the NSWGR (D)59 class can be found in the excellent book ‘The 59 Class’ by Harry Wright, published by the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum in 1996 and which also features many fine colour and B&W photographs.  Some further technical details can also be found on the Wikipedia entry for the NSWGR (D)59 class.

I would appreciate the contribution of any photographs of 5908 &/or 5916 in stationary boiler use for inclusion on this website.

An earlier view showing 5916 stored in the long-term storage sidings at the NSWRTM on 17 March 2003.

At this stage boiler sheets and underlying lagging were still in place.

5916 (right) and 5908 (left) stored on adjacent roundhouse roads at the Goulburn Railway Museum on 7 January 2012.

5916’s tender displaying heavily worn paintwork, bent ladders and footsteps.

Sister 5908 rests on the adjacent roundhouse road at the Goulburn Rail Heritage Centre.  7 January 2012.



‘The 59 Class’ by Harry Wright,

Published by the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum, 1996.


‘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 (D)59 class, retrieved 9 February 2016


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