J & A Brown No.2

Stored for the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum


A picture containing grass, train, sky, outdoor

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Keith Jones kindly permitted me to photograph the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum collection during a visit on 24 January 2004.

This view shows J & A Brown No.2 stored in black-oil at Dorrigo; unfortunately the Walschaerts valve gear is obscured in this view.


Avonside Engine Company,


Builder’s Number & Year

1916 of 1922

Wheel Arrangement



The J & A Brown Abermain Seaham locomotive fleet included two Avonside saddle-tank locomotives, No.1 and No.2. The first ‘Abermain No.1’ (Avonside b/n 1606 of 1911) was originally built for the Abermain Coal Company, while the younger ‘Abermain No.2’ was built for Abermain-Seaham Collieries limited. They first worked at Abermain No.2 & 3 Collieries and were nicknamed 'Bristol Bombers'. Not really ideal for main line haulage, it seems the pair spent their early careers at Abermain Colliery and their later years shunting at Hexham.

J & A Brown merged with Abermain Seaham Collieries in 1931 to form J & A Brown Abermain Seaham, and the two Avonside locos retained their numbers but were in fact the second locos to carry the numbers 1 & 2 in the combined J & A Brown roster. The original Nos.1 & 2 were ancient 0-4-2T locomotives built in 1856 by R & W Hawthorn, Newcastle-on-Tyne. According to Brian Robert Andrews’ authorative work on the J & A Brown operations, these ancient 0-4-2T locos were intended for Crimean War duties prior to arriving in Australia. Alas these two historic locos were cut up well before the railway preservation era.

Abermain No.1 suffered boiler damage in 1961 and was withdrawn from service, being stored at the ‘Fodder Shed’ near Wallis Creek for some years before being cut up in 1966, apparently yielding some parts to keep sister No.2 operational. Abermain No.2 was the luckier of the pair, remaining in shunting duties at Hexham until withdrawn in 1969. It was stored in the loco shed at Hexham until purchased for preservation in 1973, being the first steam loco preserved in connection with today’s Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum collection and accordingly No.2 features on the letterhead of that organisation.

The family likeness to earlier Avonside 0-6-0ST products can be seen in comparison to South Bulli No.4; perhaps J & A Brown No.2 is effectively an updated version with Walschaerts valve gear. Several similar Avonside locos are also preserved worldwide, as listed in Wikipedia.



Preston, R. G. ‘The Richmond Vale Railway’

published by the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum, 1989.


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

published by the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum, 1987.


Andrews, B. R. ‘Coal, Railways & Mines – The story of the Railways

and Collieries of J & A Brown’, published by the Iron Horse Press, 2004.

Page updated: 8 September 2021

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