Ben Chifley’s engine is finally back where it belongs in the historic railways precinct near the heritage listed 1876 Bathurst railway station.
A pair of 200 and 130-tonne capacity cranes from Turner & Central yesterday plucked the 28-tonne coal tender and 63-tonne engine off the back of a heavy duty low-loader to complete a journey that has taken more than 20 years.
The D50 class steam locomotive No 5112 was driven by Australia’s 16th prime minister, Ben Chifley, when he worked as an engine driver for the NSW Government Railways before launching his political career.
“This is a wonderful day for Bathurst,” deputy mayor Ian North said as he joined a crowd of about 50 people to watch contractors Arthur and Mick Collins back up the low-loader that carried the engine from near Bathurst Water Works to become another tourist attraction in Bathurst.
“Now that the engine is back at the railway station where it belongs, work on the display can be completed.
“All of Bathurst will soon be able to enjoy this important monument when it is officially opened, about Christmas time.”
Cr North said the train had been displayed on the site for a number of years before the start of a long restoration project that saw the engine spend time at Orange, Lithgow and Rothbury railways workshop in the Hunter Valley.
“The train was restored to a static display condition at a cost of around $240,000,” he said.
“The decision not to return the engine to working condition was made due to constraints of running a steam train in a technological era.”
Cr North said the Chifley Engine was an important piece of Bathurst history that enhances what has been done with the preservation of Ben Chifley’s house in Busby Street.
The deputy mayor said he knew a large number of Bathurst residents had been waiting a long time to see the Chifley Engine returned to its rightful home.