North Eton No.7

Lake Macquarie Light Railway


North Eton No.7 in steam at the Lake Macquarie Light Railway, Toronto during June 2005.

This photo was kindly contributed by Geoff Horne.


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. The last constructed was North Eton No.7, delivered in 1952 for cane haulage duties linking local farms to the North Eton mill, situated South-West of Mackay.

No.7, together with older sister No.6 (Perry 2382.41.1 of 1941), 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.7 in 2001 when sold to a new private owner, together with sister No.6, 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, this work being completed in 2004. The webmaster enjoyed a visit to the LMLR during the NSW Rail Transport Museum members Open Day of Sunday 18 October 2009 where North Eton No.7 was in steam and handsomely turned out in attractive lined green livery, as seen in the photos below.

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.

A picture containing tree, outdoor, train, grass

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North Eton No.7 working up a short, steep grade during the NSWRTM Members' day at the Lake Macquarie Light Railway, Sunday 18 October 2009.

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A second view of North Eton No.7 steaming at the Lake Macquarie Light Railway on Sunday 18 October 2009.



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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