Cause for celebration as UK-built Garratt in steam at museum gala


By Geoff Courtney

It may have been one small step for railway preservation – if a steam locomotive the length of four London Routemasters is capable of a small step – yet for railway enthusiasts in Australia and here in Britain, is was a giant leap for the UK-built engine and its new owners.

Nocturnal steam: UK-built Garratt 4-8-4+4-8-4 No. 6029 at night-time rest on the turntable during the Festival of Steam at the NSW Rail Museum in Thirlmere on March 3-4. In the roundhouse are, from left: 4-6-0 No. 3642, built in 1925 by NSW Government Railways; 4-6-0 No. 3526, built in 1914, also by NSWGR; No. 3016, another 4-6-0, built by Beyer Peacock in Manchester in 1903; and No. 2705, a 2-6-0 built by Hunslet of Leeds in 1913. SHEYNE WALSH

Beyer-Garratt Class AD60 No. 6029 was no more than simply in steam at the Festival of Steam at NSW Rail Museum in Thirlmere, a small town 55 miles south-west of Sydney, on the weekend of March 3-4, but after the trials and tribulations of the past year or so, that in itself was a cause for celebration.

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The 254-ton 4-8-4+4-8-4, built by Beyer Peacock in Manchester in 1953 for NSW Government Railways and withdrawn in 1972, became a cause célèbre in November 2016 when it was hurriedly moved to Thirlmere from its Canberra Railway Museum home following the financial collapse of the museum and the ACT division of the Australian Railway Historical Society that ran it.

Amid controversy, protests, internet hyperbole, finger-pointing, and suggestions and counter-suggestions of what should be done, global accountancy firm Deloitte was appointed liquidator to sort it all out. In August last year it auctioned off a number of the museum’s assets, including several steam and diesel locomotives, to help pay debts of £425,000, but left No. 6029 well alone, saying it wasn’t for sale.

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