Disappointments, I have had a few.
One occurred about 40 years ago on 14 November 1971 when standing at Farmborough Heights, waiting for 3229 to lead 3526 ‘up the mountain’ on a tour. My disappointment was manifest when 42103 hove into view in the front of 3526.
Apparently the P class had failed just prior to the tour. It had been a bit of a celebrity during 1971. Most notably it had headed a tour to Canberra in March of that year with 5212.
3229 had spent the majority of the year as the shunter for Goulburn and had been used in June 1971 to work to Crookwell after 3642 had brought a tour from Sydney. It was also the last P class in service, so it was a precious little thing.
Still, with every disappointment there is usually scope for a new opportunity. And so it was, in 1971 at the end of steam, that the Illawarra got its own little P class for just a little while. During the week after the tour, repairs were made to the little 4-6-0. Soon it was well enough to be steamed up at Port Kembla.
Shortly thereafter, it was well enough to make that trip up the hill to its home on the southern highlands. This trip was made mid-week, so another disappointment ensued for this school boy who was not permitted to see the following scenes.
And then there was the final disappointment. By Christmas 1971 3229 had been withdrawn and the P class were gone in their 80th year of service. 3229 made one last trip the Illawarra the following year, and it too was an unhappy one.