Saturday, January 4, 2014

Illawarra goods by steam

Happy New Year to all!

This is the third of a series of blog postings covering photographs taken just south of North Wollongong station, at the location of my paternal grandparents’ former home. 

For those unfamiliar with the history of railways on the Illawarra, its probably worth noting that this line was dieselised relatively early in the piece – around April 1964. This means that photos of steam services were pretty limited in the family collection.  And those that exist are in fairly ordinary condition, albeit they are now 50 years of age or more.  Still, here are a few of the more interesting examples.

First up, 5364 is caught on the up milky in April 1964.  This is pretty much the quintessential South Coast goods train in my view.  Its headed to Darling Harbour with a full load of creamy products.

The backbone of Illawarra freight services was and is still one commodity – coal.  I have chosen one coal operation – that from South Bulli Colliery – to showcase the use of standard goods locomotives in the last days of steam on the Illawarra.  First up is what I believe to be (but could be mistaken) 5056 on a down service.

The next two photos have the ‘improved’ version of the NSWGR’s standard goods locomotive – the 53 class.  The first photograph is of 5395 headed south in 1963, while the second shows 5487 treading the rails in the same direction. (Do not adjust your computer's settings - these are black and white photographs!)

The third and final version of the NSWGR standard goods locomotive, the 55 class, is usually never described as an improvement on the 53 class and it is not really remembered as an Illawarra-based class of locomotive.  However there were exceptions.  55 class locos were used extensively on the Unanderra to Moss Vale line as bankers. They also got to work the South Bulli coal run on occasions.  The next photograph shows 5595 headed south, while the one following has its younger sister 5619 headed the same way.

Outside of coal and coke headed south, a bit of steel headed north and milk trains, there wasn’t a real lot of freight action.  I am going to finish up with the sublime, 3816 relegated to a general freight service. I am going out on another limb here to guess that the 38 had worked a passenger express to Thirroul, and then had been commandeered to worth the freight further south.  It is a bit unusual as turning a loco of this size was easiest at Thirroul.  

As 3816 trundles off to Wollongong I will sign off for the time being.  Plenty more to come so please stay tuned!

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