Exclusive: By Geoff Courtney
THE National Railway Museum has dismissed reports from Australia that it is considering a bid for Beyer-Garratt No. 6029, the world’s largest operational locomotive which is currently at the heart of enthusiasts’ concerns down under, following the collapse of the society that owns it and the closure of its museum home.
Built by Beyer Peacock in Manchester in 1953 for New South Wales Government Railways, the giant 4-8-4+4-8-4 is owned by the ACT division of the Australian Railway Historical Society (ARHS ACT) that last November was placed in provisional liquidation with liabilities that were believed at the time to be about £300,000. At the same time the locomotive’s Canberra Railway Museum home, which was run by the society, was closed with immediate effect and the Canberra Railway Museum Trust placed into receivership.
The suddenness of the liquidation of ARHS ACT and the museum’s closure sent shock waves through the Australian railway heritage movement, and enthusiasts’ despair was furthered when No. 6029 and another UK-built museum resident, 4-6-0 No. 3016, were relocated within days from Canberra to Trainworks Railway Museum 150 miles away in Thirlmere, south-west of Sydney.
Like the 254-ton Garratt, No. 3016 was a Beyer Peacock product, having emerged to traffic in 1903 for service with NSW Government Railways.
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