Tassie A & B

Originally G1 & G2 of the North East Dundas Tramway

 

 

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The Tasmanian Government Railways G-class locomotives were built to 0-4-2T configuration by Sharp Stewart & Company, Glasgow for use on the North East Dundas Tramway.  This line was built with the assistance of a small Krauss-built H-class 0-4-0WT locomotive.  Two G-class locomotives were ordered as main line power but the original G1 destroyed itself and killed its crew in a boiler explosion at Zeehan on 15 May 1899 and a replacement G1 was supplied by Sharp Stewart in 1900.

Number

Builder’s details

Comments

G1 (original)

Sharp Stewart 4198 of 1896

Destroyed by boiler explosion, Zeehan 1899.

G1 (replacement)

Sharp Stewart 4619 of 1900

Became No.9 “Tassie A” at Central Isis Sugar Mill, Cordalba

G2

Sharp Stewart 4432 of 1898

Became No.10 “Tassie B” at Central Isis Sugar Mill, Cordalba

The North East Dundas Tramway was an interesting and demanding railway linking Zeehan with mining operations near Williamsford on Tasmanian’s West Coast.  Built to 2’ gauge to minimise the cost of earthworks in mountainous country, this demanding route featured steep 1:27 gradients and very tight 99-foot radius curves.  The need for both high tractive effort and short wheelbase to negotiate tight curves provided an environment suitable for innovation and the Tasmanian Government Railways trialled a number of unusual locomotive designs on this route.  The G-class locomotives supplied as 0-4-2T configuration had the short wheelbase required for the route and the weight of the side tanks over the driving wheels would have assisted with tractive effort, however I suspect the lack of a tender unduly restricted fuel supplies over the 18 mile railway.  The Tasmanian Government Railways next deployed a Hagan’s Patent 2-4-6-0T articulated locomotive which arrived in 1900.  In 1910 the Hagan’s Patent locomotive was superseded as main power on the North East Dundas Tramway by the world’s first Beyer-Garratt locomotives, K1 & K2 built with 0-4-0 + 0-4-0 configuration and high & low pressure cylinders.

Upon becoming surplus to Tasmanian Government Railways’ requirements, G1 and G2 were sold into the Queensland sugar industry at the Central Isis Sugar Mill, Cordalba.  Here they were converted to 0-4-2 tender locomotives and numbered 9 and 10 and were apparently also known as 'Tassie A' and 'Tassie B'.  The modified 0-4-2 tender locomotives were also fitted with new, larger boilers which significantly altered their original appearance.  They were withdrawn from service at Central Isis Sugar Mill in 1962.

Tassie A & B both passed into private ownership / preservation following retirement, however their preservation careers were not kind to them.  Leon Oberg provides some information about these locomotives and their fate in “Locomotives of Australia, Fifth Edition”; in which he states that Tassie A was last seen in a Childers service station yard (date not provided). a   In the absence of more recent information it seems likely this locomotive has been scrapped. d  Tassie B moved to Sydney and may have spent some time in North Richmond in the late 1980’s but was apparently illegally scrapped at St Mary’s in 1991.  Fowler 0-4-2T b/n 20284 of 1935 “Moreland” was also scrapped during this unfortunate incident. a  (I recall seeing the frames and boilers of one or two dismantled 2’ gauge locos at North Richmond around 1987, stored just off the Bell’s Line of Road near Redbank creek; I suspect these remains were Tassie B &/or Moreland.)  Contributions of photos and further information about the fate of these locomotives are welcome. d

The Light Railway Research Society of Australia provides an interesting 1909 description of the North East Dundas Tramway on this page, together with an account of the line’s engineering & construction.  While G1 and G2 may be gone, the route of the North East Dundas Tramway is today an excellent bushwalking trail through Tasmanian rainforest parkland.  The 5km section from the terminus station of Williamsford provides an easy walking trail upgrade to Montezuma Falls, the tallest waterfall in Tasmania with a drop of at 340 feet.  In railway days a wooden trestle bridge crossed in front of the waterfall on a 99-foot radius curve but today a modern suspension bridge carries the walking trail across the gorge.  The railway route on the other side is now a popular 4-wheel drive track through the mountain pass and downgrade to Zeehan.  Here is a link to a site describing the walking track:  http://www.discovertasmania.com/attraction/montezumafalls

 

References

 

a

Locomotives of Australia, 1854 to 2010 (fifth edition, 2010) published by Rosenberg Publishing Pty Ltd

b

Information provided by Melanie Dennis via email dated 14 July 2004.

c

Cooper, G & Goss, G 'Tasmanian Railways 1871 - 1996, 125 Years - A Pictorial History' published by C G publishing Company.

d

Webmaster's observation or comment.

 

Page updated:  5 November 2013

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