So far on this blog I’ve recalled times and events and places and trips – all incursions into the railway world. Have done little in the way of themes to date; suppose they will come with maturity or the need to conjure a meaning through a seemingly random selection of photographs.
The other is, of course, catalogues. In a way the previous two posts are catalogues as well as events occurring on a specific date – listings of trains entering and leaving a particular station. Anyway, I thought I would try my hand at another sort of catalogue – a photograph of every member of a specific class or type of machinery. So here goes… for my first attempt I nominate 421 class locomotives!
421s... hmmm… Perhaps the ugliest cousin of all General Motors’ locomotives?
When GM aficionados gather, I hear them speak of the thoroughbred lines of NSW’s 42 class, the sleek look of Victoria’s S class locos or the handsomeness of the Commonwealth’s GM class locos (until painted in a florid green). Occasionally one hears approving commentary about the Victorian B class and even the latter-day CL progeny. But no-one speaks fondly of the 421 because, quite frankly, its got a pretty big bum.
I reckon the 421 has an attractive utilitarian look about it. This degree of utility has probably resulted in 70 per cent of the 10-membered class achieving 46 years of service across the eastern seaboard of Australia. However I do appreciate that, like many ugly beasts, a measured introduction is perhaps best. So lets start with the class leader, 42101, showing its best and most rugged side.
This photograph was taken during a January 1982 trip to the end of the line – the South Coast’s Bomaderry end of the line. While I photographed 42101 in fading light from every angle that summer’s evening, I am only prepared to show you a close-up of its pock-marked right cheek.
Now for the rest of the class… A semi-blurred, distant shot always worked for Doris Day, as it did in 1979 when 42102 was caught heading 4205 and 48148 on a south-bound freight through Picton.
42103 had escaped the clutches of government ownership and the scrapper’s oxy torch by 1996. Two years later it had scored a new coat of paint and a place in the sun – in the sun on the Murwillumbah branch line in harness for the Northern Rivers Railway to be precise. Here it is working a freighter with its more attractively liveried sister, 42107.
These days 03 also sports an attractive livery, courtesy of the ochre of Queensland National.
On this next photograph, you are just going to have to believe me. This is 42104 (as far as I know), working through Port Kembla on a Sydney-bound passenger service in 1985. It was snapped by the Senor Train Hunter and is your first view of the #2 end of a 421 on this blog – and worse still, its coated in a drab brown! Novices, please sit down now. And remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
From the morning backlight on 42104, to the evening glow on 42105 in Albury loco depot. It certainly looks glamorous!
And now to 42106. This valiant steed drew me from the wilds of NSW’s Southern Highlands (Moss Vale actually, from where the next shot was taken) back to the cradle of all existence, the Illawarra. The necessity for its journey that day in February 1985 was entirely attributable to the frailty of another GM product – a Holden Gemini which had tangled with a wallaby on the Hume Highway at 3am. But that is another, ugly, story.
So to 42107. A sneak peak of this loco was possible in the photograph of 42103. So here it is – a decade later, in another State, working for a government again (albeit a different one). This particular photograph was snapped by the Junior Train Hunter in between Facebook sessions. Yes, its 42107 light engine at Middle Footscray in April 1998, whilst in the employ of the then publicly-owned Queensland National. And it still looks good!
We are close to the end now – only three to go. And the saddest of the class to deal with… 42108 was just 21 years of age when withdrawn, and it was scrapped just the age of 25. Perhaps reflective of its early and imminent demise, here’s a photograph of 42108 contemplating life one glum Sunday afternoon near the Wollongong turntable in early 1985.
Now, back to happier times. Here is the second-youngest of the class at the home of passenger trains, and at the head of one of them too. Its 1981 and 42109 is ready to head down the coast with an evening commuter train. Three decades later it wears the gaudy bouquet of the Northern Rivers Railway in the service of QR National, the second time it has been privatised. Rumours have it resting, stored, in 2012.
And so we are to the last of the class. The baby. 42110. And the least of the photographs too. Blurry, indistinct, going away from the lens, drab day, and a nothing-special passenger service. Sorry about this, but here we are aiming for completeness in the catalogue and not a O Winston Link. And it was in 1985, from Wollongong. Still, five years later this loc was turned into a dog food can, so I am glad to proide evidence of its existence.
And on this slightly deflated note, I bid adieu to 421s and to those reading this blog. Thank you for popping by.