In the late 1980s the Illawarra’s most secret society– the dead 70s society – could be seen at only one place. This was the rotten row to the east of Port Kemble loco depot. Its members were the discarded, worn-out and redundant class members of the once very useful class of NSWGR diesel hydraulics.
The following photograph shows those forming the society around 1989. In attendance that day were 7005, 7006, 7003, 7004, 7010, 7001 and 7007. Only 7002, 7008 and 7009 were elsewhere, presumably working.
When sent to rotten row, the members of the class appeared in reasonable condition, at least externally.
However, once consigned to this location, the prospects of a return to service were dim. The environment was certainly not conducive to preservation – the location mixes salt air with acidic discharges from local factories. And then there was the attraction of these beasts to the local hoodlums… another factor mitigating against longevity.
Still, once sent to rotten row, it did not mean the end of the journey. The following photograph records the fact that at least once the line of locos was shunted westward under the road bridge. The observant will observe the steady deterioration of the locos.
Most of the deterioration was as a result of wanton acts of stupidity – 7001 bears testimony to the idiocy of the locals.
Other deterioration was due to some with more pure motives. 7003 became a parts donor for its still operating sisters.
But there was only one of the class to escape this ignominy. The mighty 7006 has been restored to working order and now resides away for the sea air at Thirlmere with others from the NSW Rail Transport Museum. Here it is, quietly awaiting its great escape to the highlands.
Perhaps one day 7006 will be joined by its sisters 7007, 7008 and 7010, which currently lurk in the rain at Dorrigo as part of the Dorrigo Steam Railway Museum.
And only then will the less-than-dead 70s society reconvene...