B13 No.234

A fascinating survivor on the Normanton-Croydon Railway


No.234 at Normanton – sans boiler, smokebox & cab – on 4 August 2008. Photo courtesy of Dan Van Scherpenseel.



Phoenix Engine Co, Ipswich.



Builder’s Number & Year

15 of 1892



Wheel Arrangement




No. in class



The B13 class were a mixed-traffic design originating with 19 locomotives supplied by Dubs & Co, Glasgow. These first 19 locomotives were simple and reliable machines supplied with saturated steam boilers that sat low in the frames, with a short smokebox and spartan cab. Following orders from Kitson, Dubs & Co, and Phoenix Engine Co, Ipswich swelled the class to 112 units by 1892, with the later engines differentiated by a lengthened driving wheelbase to accommodate larger fireboxes, and associated higher-pitched boilers. Extended smokeboxes were also found to improve performance. Firebox variations included ‘wide type’ and ‘deep type’ with the latter proving more economic, and accordingly the wide firebox engines were among the earliest B13’s to be withdrawn. Indeed six of the wide firebox B13 locos were sold to the Commonwealth Railways for use on the North Australia Railway (Darwin) where they were known as the Ng class. Other B13 class members were rebuilt with deep fireboxes and higher-pitched boilers, with a characteristic high smokebox saddle (as seen on preserved sister No.48). Most of the B13 class were withdrawn in the 1920’s and 30’s, with a number being sold into the sugar industry and local shire tramways.

No.234 was the last of the B13 class constructed and was delivered new to the isolated Normanton - Croydon Railway in July 1892. Like all steam locomotives sent to Normanton, it never departed and was put to one side after withdrawal in February 1928. No.234’s original boiler was sent to the Clarina pump in approximately 1913 where it remains derelict, while a second boiler was transferred to sister loco No. 161 in 1925. (This implies No.234 was incomplete and inoperable from 1925 until its official withdrawal date of February 1928, perhaps coinciding with a decision not to supply a new boiler.) No.234’s chassis has remained stored in the station yard at Normanton over the subsequent decades, a testament to the remoteness of this location.

Today the complete frames, wheels & tender of No.234 remain in storage at Normanton. Being dismantled does provide an interesting view of the frames and aspects of the long-wheelbase B13 design and modifications to accommodate the deep firebox / high-pitch boiler.

The Wikipedia page for the B13 class contains useful technical data for these locomotives.

This photo is kindly provided by Murray Lawrence and shows the remains of No.234 at Normanton in January 1993

This photo is kindly provided by Murray Lawrence and shows No.234's frames at Normanton in January 1993.

Miscellaneous loco components can be seen dumped by the track in the background.



Armstrong, J. 'Locomotives in the Tropics - Volume 1

(Queensland Railways 1864 – 1910)’,

published by the ARHS Queensland Division, 1985.


Knowles, J. W. 'Lonely Rails in the Gulf Country –

The story of the Normanton - Croydon Railway and the Gulflander',

Revised second edition 1993, published by J. W. Knowles and

distributed by the Australian Narrow Gauge Railway Museum Society,

PO Box 270, Brisbane 4002. (Appendix 4, Page 58)


Wikipedia page for B13 class, retrieved 28 September 2020.

Page updated: 20 October 2020

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