South Maitland Railways Pty Ltd No.2

Stored for the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum


Keith Jones kindly permitted me to photograph the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum collection during a visit on 24 January 2004.

This view shows South Maitland Railways No.2 / J & A Brown No.27 in storage at Dorrigo.


Avonside Engine Company,


Builder’s Number & Year

1415 of 1900

Wheel Arrangement



This interesting little saddle tank loco appears to be a standard design of industrial shunter from Avonside Engine Co of Bristol. It initially worked for the East Greta Coal Mining Company as No.2 on their roster. When South Maitland Railways Pty Ltd (SMR) formed in 1918 to consolidate the railway activities of the East Great Coal Mining Company and Hebburn Coal Mining Company, the little Avonside saddle tank retained No.2 in the amalgamated SMR fleet.

In 1929, SMR No.2 was sold to Stanford Main No.2 colliery at Paxton for use as the colliery shunter. J & A Brown acquired the colliery and its assets in 1931, at which stage the little Avonside saddle tank became No. 27 in Brown’s loco fleet.

J & A Brown No.27 spent its days shunting at various collieries and industrial concerns around Newcastle and the South Maitland coalfields, including a stint on the isolated Wallarah Colliery line linking to Catherine Hill Bay jetty. At the end of its working days, it was sent to J & A Brown’s workshop subsidiary Hexham Engineering and stored near the coal loading staiths.

In 1973, Coal & Allied Industries (successors to J & A Brown) invited tenders for disposal of their remaining steam locomotives, prompting enthusiasts to scramble to save as many as possible. No.27 was among those saved for posterity by the Hunter Valley Steam Railway & Museum, which later became the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum (DSR&M) collection. The little Avonside tank loco was collected from Hexham in 1975 and spent some time at their Rhondda Colliery storage site. From memory it was one of the first steam locomotives to be transported to Dorrigo, arriving by road around 1983, and has since been transferred to the more recently constructed display sidings – apparently the site of the intended public display – where it remains in store with the Dorrigo collection.

The most complete history I have found for this loco is that provided by John Kramer in his documentation of the Dorrigo collection ‘The Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum – an Illustrated Guide’ as referenced below. Kramer provides a good account of the loco’s movements through the years between various owners and locations.

Several similar Avonside locomotives are also preserved in the UK and worldwide, as listed in Wikipedia.



Preston, R. G. ‘The Richmond Vale Railway’

published by the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum, 1989.


Kramer, J. 'The Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum - an Illustrated Guide',

published by the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum, 1987.


Andrews, B. R. ‘Coal, Railways & Mines – The story of the Railways

and Collieries of J & A Brown’, published by the Iron Horse Press, 2004.


McNicol, S. ‘Coals to Maitland’

Published by Railmac Publications, 1982


Pearce, K. ‘Coals to Hexham’

Published by Railmac Publications, 1982


Wikipedia page for Avonside Engine Company, retrieved 27 August 2021.

Page updated: 27 August 2021

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