Wx 18

Stored dismantled


My visit to the Pichi Richi Railway's workshops at Quorn in June 2000 found the dismantled components of Wx 18 stored on a flat car.

The South Australian Railways "W-class" 2-6-0 locomotives first entered service in 1878. These locomotives were built by Beyer Peacock& Co, Manchester and 35 were in service by 1883, becoming at that stage the principal motive power on the SAR's narrow-gauge lines.  As originally constructed they featured a round-top boiler and a tall steam dome, together with refinements such as ornate Salter safety valves and a brass chimney cap.  A small four-wheel tender provided for coal and water needs.

This successful Beyer Peacock & Co design was basically the same as the West Australian Government Railways A-class locomotives.  The design was developed by Beyer Peacock & Co to become the highly successful Y-class 2-6-0 pattern, which saw service across most Australian narrow-gauge rail systems.

W-class operations included the route from Port Augusta through the Pichi Richi Pass to Quorn and Hawker.  A number were used by contractors during the construction of the narrow gauge lines.  Eight W-class locomotives were transferred to Commonwealth Railways ownership on 1 January 1911 for use on the North Australia Railway from Darwin, where they were known as the NF-class.  Of these, NF 2 (originally W class leader W 13) survives as an operable museum exhibit at Katherine.

On the South Australian Railways, 17 class members were rebuilt with larger round-top boilers between 1903 and 1912 to become the Wx class.

Preserved locomotive Wx 18 was built by Beyer Peacock & Co, Manchester as their builder's number 1820 of 1879, originally carrying the road number W 18.  It was rebuilt to Wx specification in 1911.  While most of the South Australian Railways W and Wx class locomotives were withdrawn and scrapped around 1929, four class members (Wx 18, 20, 37 and 56) were retained in the South-East division to work the Kingston - Naracoorte line.  This route was converted to broad gauge in 1959, with Wx 18 operating the last narrow-gauge goods train from Kingston to Naracoorte on 12 March 1959.  Fortunately it was saved for preservation and transferred to the town of Naracoorte in April 1959 for display in Pioneer Park, Naracoorte (together with V 9).

Wx 18 was acquired by the Pichi Richi Railway in 1985 and transferred to Quorn for restoration. It has been fully dismantled with the major parts cleaned and painted. However restoration progress appears to have stalled.  My visit to the Pichi Richi Railway's workshops at Quorn in June 2000 found Wx 18 stored dismantled on a flat car.  Also stored nearby was a newly constructed rivetted tender tank.

Hopefully the restoration of this interesting early locomotive will soon restart. Its relatively low power would presumably reduce its usefulness in operation, however it would be a magnificent historical asset for the Pichi Richi Railway given the W-class association with the early SAR operations through the Pichi Richi Pass.  The Pichi Richi Railway is known for the high authenticity and attention to detail applied to their restorations and accordingly a restored Wx 18 would present a wonderful example of early South Australian Railways steam power.




Fluck R. E., Sampson R., & Bird K. J. 'Steam locomotives and Railcars of the South Australian Railways',

published by The Mile End Railway Museum (SA) Inc, 1986.


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Page updated:  30 March 2014

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