North Eton No.6

Lake Macquarie Light Railway


North Eton No.6 in storage at the Lake Macquarie Light Railway, Toronto, prior to commencement of its repair.

This photo was kindly provided by Geoff Horne and dates from December 2004.


Perry Engineering Co. Ltd,

Mile End, Adelaide

Builder’s Number & Year


Wheel Arrangement



A popular choice of motive power for the sugar mills of Queensland were the reliable and well-designed locomotives built by John Fowler & Co. of Leeds. This company became an early leader in the development of internal combustion locomotives, leading to a strategic decision in 1935 to exit the market for steam locomotives. This presented a challenge to Australian mills seeking additional steam motive power, and local builders responded with products similar to the popular Fowler designs. Against this background Perry Engineering of Adelaide constructed a total of 19 steam locomotives of 0-4-2T and 0-6-2T configurations for Australian sugar mills, of which 16 have survived into preservation. Among these was North Eton No.6, delivered in 1941 for cane haulage duties linking the various farms to the North Eton mill, situated near Mackay.

No.6, together with younger sister No.7 (Perry 6634.52.1 of 1952), were last in revenue service for North Eton Mill in 1965. The two were retained in good order at the mill until sold for private preservation, arriving at their new home in the Megalong Valley, New South Wales in March 1972. Contemporary photos show the two locos newly arrived on a short section of track in a bush clearing, overlooked by eucalypts and towering Blue Mountains sandstone cliffs. Over the following years a loco shed and approximately a kilometre of track were constructed, surrounded by magnificent Megalong Valley scenery. I believe the intention was to create a public tourist railway. While No.6 saw some use on this private railway up to its last run in 1986, No.7 remained stored and was never steamed. I recall occasional visits to the Megalong Valley on bushwalking and mountain bike trips, always intrigued by the two cane locos slumbering in their rustic shed, but alas I never stopped to photograph the scene.

A change of owner and fortunes came for North Eton No.6 in 2001 when was sold to a new private owner, together with No.7, both being relocated to the newly established Lake Macquarie Light Railway (LMLR), near Toronto, NSW where they arrived on 17 August 2001. According to the LMLR website, North Eton No.7 was found to be in worse condition than sister No.6 and – conversely - was thus selected as the first to be restored to operation. In the meantime, North Eton No.6 spent a further few years in storage. Following the completion of No.7’s overhaul in 2004, repairs began for No.6 and the LMLR website includes an interesting restoration blog showing their progress:

As for North Eton Mill, this venture closed in 1988 after 100 years of operation, following merger with Farleigh, Racecourse, Marian and Cattle Creek Mills to form the Mackay Sugar Co-operative Association Limited. Glen Hall provides a good history of the North Eton Mill on his Mackay History website.

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My visit to the Lake Macquarie Light Railway during the NSWRTM Members' day on Sunday 18 October 2009 found North Eton No.6 stripped for overhaul.

Lurking in the shadows is a sister Perry-built locomotive, Mourilyan Mill No.7.



Light Railway Research Society of Australia Inc. Web site
(retrieved 27 April 2021):

'Preserved Australian Sugar Cane Locomotives' list
by John Browning (


Wikipedia page for Perry Engineering Co Ltd,
retrieved 27 April 2021


Lake Macquarie Light Railway website,

retrieved 27 April 2021


Mackay History website (steam locomotives pages),

retrieved 11 May 2021


‘Australasian Locomotive Builders Lists, Issue 2:

James Martin & Company / Perry Engineering, South Australia’,

Published by The Light Railway Research Society of Australia,

September 1987.

Page updated: 24 June 2021

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