Tuesday, June 10, 2014
NZR E Class 1872 Vulcan
The NZR E class of Double Fairlie steam locomotives were two different types of Fairlie locomotive, and were the first classes to take that designation, followed by the E class Mallet compound locomotive of 1906 and then the E class battery electric locomotive of 1922. The other Double Fairlie class was the B class, and there were also the Single Fairlie R and S classes.
In 1872, two locomotives were ordered by the Otago provincial government to operate trains on the newly built Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway. The first line to be built to the new national gauge standard of 3 feet 6 inches, it had as its consulting engineer Robert F. Fairlie, who persuaded the railway to order locomotives to his Double Fairlie design. Built by the Vulcan Foundry in England, the locomotives were shipped to New Zealand in kitset form. Arriving at Port Chalmers in August, they were unloaded onto the wharf and were assembled in situ. The railway's No.2 “Josephine” was assembled first due to its being closer to the end of the wharf, and after two weeks of assembly she first raised steam on 11 September 1872. After a short test run, “Josephine” was used to help finish the construction of the line while No.1 “Rose” was completed.
At the official opening of the Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway, “Rose” hauled the first official train. Both locomotives continued in service until the railway was amalgamated into the Government system, becoming class “E” and gaining Otago section numbers. In 1879, “Josephine” was used as a banking locomotive south of Oamaru on the first train on the newly completed Main South Line between Dunedin and Christchurch, hauled by K 88. There was much discussion over whether “Josephine” or the new American locomotive should lead – K 88 kept its position as lead loco. “Josephine” had to be removed from the train at Palmerston, as the driver had forced her to take too much of the load and as a consequence she developed mechanical problems. Upon the general re-numbering of 1888-90 “Josephine” was numbered E 175, and lasted in NZR service until 1900. She was sold to the Public Works Department, re-numbered PWD 504 and used in the construction of railway lines before they were handed over to the Railways Department. She was transferred to the North Island and utilised in the construction of the North Island Main Trunk Railway before she returned to her former home for the construction of the Otago Central Railway, before her retirement in 1917. Both locomotives had a reputation of being rather unspectacular performers.
“Rose” suffered an accident just prior to 1890, and was withdrawn from service, never to be repaired. It is presumed she was scrapped or disposed of in the manner of the day. “Josephine”, once withdrawn from Public Works Department service in 1917, was sold for scrap to the Otago Iron Rolling Mills.
In 1875, seeking additional motive power for the lightly-laid lines of the period, the national Government placed an order with Avonside for six Double Fairlie locomotives that became the E class. Larger and more powerful than the Vulcan Double Fairlies, the Avonside locomotives proved to be the most successful Double Fairlies in NZ. An initial feature of the class was the positioning of the sandboxes on top of the smokebox and around the base of the funnel, later changed. The class also continued the use of Walschaerts valve gear that was introduced on the B class Double Fairlies.
The class was assigned to the North Island, based in Wanganui and New Plymouth, where they saw out their entire careers. Three received names under the aborted naming scheme of the time – “Albatross”, “Pelican” and “Penguin”. They gave good reliable service, but the complexity resulting from the fact that they had double the moving parts of a normal locomotive led to maintenance difficulties.
All had been officially withdrawn by 1906, but they continued to be maintained and used for many years after. In 1920 the Railways Department discovered their continued use, much to its annoyance, and they were removed from service and scrapped.
Only “Josephine”, one of the Vulcan locomotives, has survived. After being sold for scrap to the Otago Iron Rolling Mills in 1917, she languished at the company's Green Island premises. She was still there in 1926, when the company had her cosmetically restored (including the fitting of balloon funnels, which she never had in service) and she was placed on display at the New Zealand South Seas Exhibition of 1926 next to AB 608 “Passchendaele”. At this time she was placed in the ownership of the Otago Settlers Museum. This is believed to be the first example of railway preservation in New Zealand.
“Josephine” was subsequently displayed in the park area next to the museum, where she deteriorated in the elements. In the 1960s she was cosmetically restored again, this time with correct-style funnels, and placed inside a protective glass room adjoining the museum. She is one of the oldest preserved locomotive in New Zealand, giving way to the older A67, built in 1873, at Dunedin's, Ocean Beach Railway, and the only surviving provincial Government locomotive. There are no current plans to restore her to operational condition.
Although none of the other locomotives survived, one of the powered bogies from an Avonside E Class exists cylinder-less at Ferrymead Heritage Park, Christchurch.