BHP Newcastle No.16

Plinthed at St Marys


BHP photo of BHP No. 16 is kindly provided by David Tickner. 3 December 2005

Missing brass number plates, window frames etc, hopefully in safe keeping rather than stolen.


H.K. Porter Co, Pittsburgh USA

Builder’s Number & Year

6596 of 1920

Wheel Arrangement


No. in class



The H. K. Porter Company of Pittsburgh specialised in small 4-wheel steam locomotives for industrial and construction use, although some larger main-line locomotives were also built. H. K. Porter also became a dominant manufacturer of small compressed-air locomotives for underground operation, and fireless locomotives for use in chemical plants and refineries where the risk of fire prohibited the conventional steam locomotives.

Among their many customers worldwide was the BHP Newcastle steelworks, established in 1915, which settled on the Porter 0-4-0T design as their de-facto standard for shunting work. Porter initially supplied three 0-4-0T locomotives to BHP Newcastle (Nos.2 - 4), later joined by a further 7 Porter examples and 8 copies built in BHP Newcastle’s own workshops. Porter also supplied smaller 915mm gauge 0-4-0ST locos to the BHP Newcastle plant for the internal ingot transfer line. These locos rubbed shoulders with an eclectic mix of steam locomotives at the Newcastle steelworks, including ‘funnies’ converted for shunting work - such as 0-6-0ST No.1, rebuilt from NSWGR E17 class 0-6-0 E40 (Henry Vale b/n 5 of 1870) and No.26, rebuilt from NSWGR 2-6-0 tender loco No.2415. (Leon Oberg provides a thorough account of the interesting steam fleet at BHP Newcastle in the fifth edition of his ‘Locomotives of Australia – 1854 to 2010, together with anecdotes and insights from former BHP employees.)

Upon dieselisation of the BHP Newcastle shunting fleet, most of their steam locomotives quickly found themselves as feed for the company steelmaking furnace, but a lucky few were transferred or sold for further duties elsewhere.

With the arrival of standard gauge link to the BHP Whyalla steelworks in South Australia, two of the BHP built 0-4-0T copies were relocated there – becoming B1 (formerly No.21) & B2 (formerly No.25) on the local roster. B2 lasted the longest at Whyalla but alas was scrapped in 1968. It would have made a fine specimen for local preservation, or an interesting addition to at the Mile End Railway Museum, adding to the story of South Australia’s economic development and gauge quandaries.

Porter No.4 (one of the original batch of three Porter 0-4-0T locomotives) was sold to Commonwealth Steel Co Ltd, Newcastle in 1962 and is now preserved in the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum collection.

Porter engine No.16 was sold to Emu Gravel in western Sydney in 1962, followed by No.12 in 1963, joining an older Vulcan built 0-4-0ST loco No.1 at the gravel pits. No.12 lasted in service until 1967 when road transport took over at the gravel pits. While BHP No.16 and No.1 were subsequently preserved, alas BHP No.12 was not so lucky, despite being the last loco in steam there, and was cut up for scrap in 1968. John Oakes provides a good account of the railway operations at Emu Plains in his book ‘Sydney’s Forgotten Quarry Railways’ as referenced below.

No.16 was saved by the NSW Rail Transport Museum (now NSW Rail Museum) when purchased for preservation in August 1967, at that time in operating condition. It initially served as shunter at the Enfield museum site, hauling much larger locomotives in and out of the radial roundhouse roads. It remained in the museum shunter role upon transfer to the new site at Thirlmere in 1975, still seeing occasional use until the mid-1990's.

In more recent times BHP Newcastle No.16 has been placed on loan to an organisation at St Marys in western Sydney, where it is now plinthed under a substantial weather roof. It is located on the corner of Mamre Rd & Hall St, and appears to be well cared for, as per the photos appearing on this page. (I recall being rather disappointed at this loco’s move to a static display, which seemed a rather retrograde step. In fairness, the loco has been provided with a decent presentation and shelter, and it does have an association with the area given its service at Emu Gravel, not far from St Marys.)

Perhaps someone could contribute a photo of BHP Newcastle No.16 shunting at Thirlmere or Enfield, for addition to this page?

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BHP Newcastle No.16 as seen from across the street (from the south) on 16 August 2015.

The locomotive is protected by an elaborate & ornate weather shelter!

I understand the more modern air-conditioned carriage behind serves as a training facility.

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BHP Newcastle No.16 as seen from the North side. 16 August 2015

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Rear side view. It can be seen where the ‘BHP 16’ number plates were affixed to the cabside and side tank.

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Cylinder detail, showing the maker’s name included in the cylinder casting.

The piston rod and slide bars are certainly getting rusty!

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The oversize buffers tell of shunting on tightly curved sidings - and the need to avoid buffer lock.



‘Locomotives of Australia’ by Leon Oberg,

published by J. W. Books Pty Ltd


Oakes, J. ‘Sydney’s Forgotten Quarry Railways’,

Second edition 2013, published by the

Australian Railway Historical Society, NSW Division,

ISBN 978-0-9757870-3-8


Page updated: 12 December 2021

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