OUR image this week is a magnificent 79 class 4-4-0 locomotive, known by steam train number 416: the number painted on the side of the driver's cab.
There are five men in the photo. It was taken in the Bathurst Railway Yards, the family tell me, but they don't know who the men are. At different times, the Bathurst Yards could be home to up to 100 of the old steam engines awaiting to be dispatched from the depot to somewhere in the region. The depot was once full of activity. All the shunters were there as well.
At one time, there was a C36 class engine used as a stationary steam plant in the railway overhaul workshop. An extra tall funnel would be attached to clear the steam over the buildings. The Great Western Railway and the Bathurst Yards employed a wealth of employees, including drivers, cleaners, engineers, draftsmen, inspectors, timekeepers, porters, derailment crew and gangers. It supported many local families, especially in the Milltown area. Many workers lived so close by they walked home for lunch. At times, the Bathurst rail complex had a staff of over 450.
These 79 class 4-4-0 locomotives were introduced by the New South Wales Government Railway from 1877 for express passenger services. Up until 1952, the NSW Government ordered steam engines to suit a certain job in relation to what the engine was expected to pull. Some of the types included Light Mixed Traffic, Passenger, Express Passenger, Suburban Passenger, Branch Line Work, Goods and Heavy Goods.
This locomotive was originally numbered 38N, which meant that it was allocated to the Northern Rail System out of Newcastle. It was one of the first 30 locomotives in this class built by Beyer, Peacock and Company of Manchester in England (their builders' number 1773 of 1877). There were eventually 68 locomotives in this class, which were relegated to branch line duties as more powerful locomotives became available.
This loco was renumbered 416 of the C79 class in 1889 and it became 1215 of the Z12 class in the 1924 classification system. It was withdrawn from service in February 1931, but a number of its sister locos had much longer lives and three are still with us under the care of various preservation groups - 1210 is in services with the ARHS Canberra, 1219 is at Trainworks, Thirlmere and 1243 is on display at the Powerhouse Museum.
Working for the railway could be dangerous. John Tipping, an inspector in the Locomotive Department of the New South Wales Railways who relieved at Bathurst, died of a heart attack while rushing back to the station in March 1888. He had held the position for upwards of 25 years. His death called forth expressions of heartfelt sympathy to the bereaved widow and orphaned children from friends near and far.
Another to die was Bathurst's locomotive inspector, Joseph Turton, found in June 1889. The funeral took place in Bathurst on June 24 after he was killed on the line at Bathurst. The funeral was largely attended. Many Masons and Druids were in the procession, which was half a mile long. A telegram was received by the mayor from Lord and Lady Carrington expressing their sympathy for the deceased's relatives. A subscription list had been started among the railway employees in aid of the deceased's family, who were left without means.
On April 30, 1890, an inquest started on the body of Rebecca Franklin, who was killed through a railway accident at Bathurst. A train broke away at Raglan and collided with another not far from Bathurst Station. The guard's van telescoped, and eight rail trucks were smashed to atoms. There was a great loss of life and every passenger was injured. Nearly 1000 sheep were killed, and others maimed. Almost every resident headed out to view the spectacle. The cause of the accident was determined to be a broken coupling allowing carriages to run downhill towards Bathurst Station.
Thanks to Bob for the extra information on the engine.