Restored in the guise of Silverton Tramway W 22
This photograph is kindly provided by Stuart Jackson and shows WAGR loco W 916 (restored as Silverton W22)
preparing to depart for Port Augusta with the Afghan Express on 30 August 2003.
W 916 was built by Beyer Peacock & Co, Manchester (builder's number 7393 of 1951) as one of sixty "W-class" 4-8-2 locomotives delivered to the Western Australian Government Railways for light lines service. The W-class proved to be highly successful locomotives, displacing older O-class 2-8-0T+T and G-class 2-6-0 & 4-6-0 types on secondary lines and augmenting the V and S-classes on main line duties.
Most WAGR W-class locomotives were withdrawn in June 1971 and joined the long lines of modern steam power that were cut up for scrap at Midland Workshops, however W 916 was among 19 class members retained in storage a little longer until officially withdrawn in August 1972.
W 916 was sold to the Pichi Richi Railway Society in 1974 and transferred to their workshops at Quorn in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia. W 916 was originally intended to be a potential donor of heavy spares for the Pichi Richi's operating W-class locomotives W 933 and W 934 and accordingly it was placed in dry storage within the Quorn workshops.
Fate subsequently provided a kind turn to W 916 when the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society obtained Silverton Tramway W 22 from static display at the Puffing Billy Museum, Menzies Creek with the intention of full restoration. However, upon assessment at Quorn, W 22 was found to be in poorer condition that W 916. The Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society wanted to honour their commitment to restore W 22 to operation, so WAGR sister W 916 was instead overhauled and renumbered as Silverton W 22, apparently using some original W 22 parts (probably including the skyline cowling) and with transfer of identifying number and name plates.
W 916's restoration to operation as Silverton W 22 was completed in April 2003. The webmaster enjoyed a trip behind W 916 (restored as W 22) on the Pichi Richi Railway during 2007 on the Afghan Express from Port Augusta to Quorn and return. The locomotive performed absolutely faultlessly; in fact my only reservation was that the locomotive was so powerful and capable that it hauled its 5-car consist over the steep and tightly-curved Pichi Richi Pass with - seemingly - barely any effort at all!
The Pichi Richi Railway's W-class fleet now comprises operational W 916 (as W 22), 933 and 934, with stored W 931 and the real Silverton W 22 providing a useful pool of heavy spares and possible future restoration projects.
WAGR loco W 916, beautifully restored as Silverton Tramway W 22.
This view was contributed by Tony Hurst and shows W22 turning on the triangle at Woolshed Flat in 2003.
A. Gunzburg 'A history of WAGR steam locomotives',
published by ARHS (Western Australian Division) 1984.
McNicol, S. 'Silverton Tramway Locomotives',
Railmac Publications, 1981
Page updated: 7 January 2015