W class                         


Built by Beyer Peacock and Company Ltd of Manchester, England, 60 W class locomotives were ordered to replace the various obsolete steam locomotives then used on branch line services.

Class leader W 901 was placed in traffic in April 1951. Designed with a maximum axle load of 10 tons, for operation on the WAGR's (Western Australian Government Railways) extensive system of light lines, special features on the W class included the provision of roller bearings and compensated springing on all carrying axles, self cleaning smoke box, self emptying hopper type ash pan, thermic syphons and power-operated reversing gear.

W Outline 151kb.jpg (154699 bytes)

W Class Outline Drawing 151kb

A special boiler was designed with a wide firebox and large combustion chamber suitable for burning efficiently, the readily available low grade Collie coal. The last 20 locomotives were fitted with tenders of larger water capacity. The loco's have retained the same livery throughout their working life of larch green lined in black with red buffer beams.

W Class Specifications

Wheel arrangement


Weight 101 tons 2 cwt 102.7t
Length 61 ft 11 in 18.86m
Tractive effort 21 760 lb 96.8kN
Boiler pressure 200 psi 1 380kPa
Driving wheels 4 ft 0 in 1.219m
Cylinders 16 x 24 in 406 x 610mm
Valve gear


Grate area 27 ft 2.5 m
Coal capacity 7 tons 7.1t
Water capacity 2 500 gal 11 400L

The load over a 1 in  80 grade for these engines was 435 tons. Because of their versatile design it was not long before the W class were introduced to the passenger roster and performed admirably as passenger locomotives until the advent of diesel-electrics in 1954.

Complete dieselisation of the WAGR. in 1971 brought about the premature retirement of the W class after a relatively short working life of about 20 years. However during 1970, a number of this class (together with some larger V and S class locomotives) were overhauled and stored at Collie for possible future use in the event of an oil crisis, but this never eventuated.

W 958 heads a special passenger train to Coolup across the Bunbury bridge at Perth in September 1969 - photo by Clarrie Cole

Hotham Valley purchased four W class because they were the only available steam locomotives permitted to operate on the Hotham Valley branch with its restrictive 13 ton axle load and six chain curves. Three came from Collie; W920 in July 1976 and W's 945 and 903 in July 1977. The fourth, W908 was hauled to Midland Workshops from Collie in 1974 and had rested derelict at the former Midland Steam Depot until February 1979. Purchased by Hotham Valley she was hauled to Pinjarra by one of her sisters W 945, which had just completed 5 weekends of "Festival Flyer" operation on Perth's suburban rail network.

Although the W class never carried names in WAGR service, since restoration the Hotham Valley Railway W Class locomotives have been given the following names :-

903   Marrinup

908   Dwellingup

920   Pinjarra

945  Banksiadale

The WAGR was not the only system in Australia to operate W class locomotives. The Silverton Tramway Co of Broken Hill NSW. selected the WAGR design and placed an order with Beyer Peacock at the same time as the WA. order. Their four locomotives arrived in Australia in October of 1951. The Silverton engines differed in appearance because of a streamlined cowling which was fitted along the full length of the boiler.

W 903 departs City Station on March 28 1985 with the last locomotive hauled "Australind" to run to the old Bunbury station

The Mixed Traffic W class was undoubtedly one of the most successful steam locomotive designs in Australia. Because of their success , comparatively young age and excellent route availability, eighteen of the class found their way into preservation, with no fewer than 6 being operational in Australia in 1993.

The W class locomotives existing today  are preserved at :

901       Steamtown, Peterborough SA.

903       Hotham Valley Railway Pinjarra WA.

907       Steamtown, Peterborough SA.

908       Hotham Valley Railway, Pinjarra WA.

916       Pichi Richi Railway, Quorn SA.

919       Esperance Museum WA.

920       Hotham Valley Railway, Pinjarra WA.

924       Ghan Preservation Society, Alice Springs NT.

931       Pichi Richi Railway, Quorn SA.

933       Pichi Richi Railway, Quorn SA.

934       Pichi Richi Railway, Quorn SA.

943       Collie Museum WA.

945       Hotham Valley Railway, Pinjarra WA.

947       WA. Division ARHS Museum, Bassendean WA.

953       WA. Division ARHS. Museum, Bassendean WA.

22         Ex Silverton Tramway - Pichi Richi Railway, Quorn SA.

24         Ex Silverton Tramway - Railwaytown Museum, Broken Hill NSW.

25         Ex Silverton Tramway - National Rail Museum - Port Adelaide SA.

As can be seen from the above list the Western Australian W class has ventured to many other areas of Australia and is actually one of the most preserved locomotives in the world with only a few U.K. locomotives preserved in greater numbers.




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