Locomotive, Steam 3203 | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Locomotive, Steam 3203

Item details

Name of item: Locomotive, Steam 3203
Other name/s: 3402, P(8), Tender Tab 1017 (3214)
Type of item: Movable / Collection
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Locomotives & Rolling Stock
Primary address: Broadmeadow Locomotive Depot, Broadmeadow, NSW 2292
Local govt. area: Newcastle
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Broadmeadow Locomotive DepotBroadmeadowNewcastle  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Steam Locomotive 3203 has heritage significance as one of only four survivors of a highly significant class of locomotives, and one of very few express passenger locomotives from the Victorian period. The 32 Class (originally known as the ‘P’ Class) was an important development of express passenger power on the NSWGR, and a significant achievement of the Thow era. Locomotive 3203 is an excellent example of the 32 Class, the first of Thow’s ‘standard’ classes, his first major NSWGR design, and the first class designed and built specifically for NSW operating conditions. Built in unprecedented numbers (191), these were the most numerous and probably most successful passenger locomotive class on the NSWGR. On introduction, the ‘P’ Class became the principal motive power for all major expresses, and although later displaced from express services, were still operating passenger trains till the end of the steam era. Technically the class was highly innovative, introducing a number of advanced features to the NSWGR, and the design and performance of the class was superior in most respects to contemporary locomotives in Britain. Their success led to the adoption of the same design by the Commonwealth Railways for the Trans-Australian Railway.
Date significance updated: 13 Nov 09
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: William Thow, CME of the NSWGR
Builder/Maker: Beyer Peacock and Company, Gorton Foundry, Manchester
Physical description: EXTERNAL
Locomotive 3203, is a two-cylinder, simple, non-condensing, coal-fired, superheated, ‘Ten-wheel’ 4-6-0 express passenger steam locomotive. The locomotive is built around a fabricated inside frame, supporting a boiler of riveted construction, and fitted with a Belpaire firebox. It has a low running plate with splashers covering the driving wheels, the front pair of which supports a large sandbox. The cylinders are fitted with an ‘alligator’ crosshead, Allan’s inside valve motion, all rods being of a fluted design with strapped big ends, running in conventional bearings. The driving wheels are spoked, fitted with counter weights and displaced apart between the centre and trailing pair, to allow for the firebox. The leading bogie wheels are of a disc pattern relieved with four holes. The boiler is fitted with a Belpaire firebox, tall cast iron chimney and dome and has been clad in conventional metal sheeting. An enclosed steel cab has been fitted with a porthole window (later a William Thow trademark) provided in each side. A tall chimney is located on an extended smokebox. The locomotive is painted in lined black.

The tender (previously fitted to 3214) rides on two four-wheel bogies with spoked wheels, is of riveted construction and is finished in lined black. Steam heating equipment is still fitted to the locomotive's tender, as is a bracket for fitting a tender headlight and associated electrical conduit, through water piping. Various cast plates remain including the ‘NSWR EVELEIGH WORKS 1913’ plates on either side of the tender, ‘Eveleigh Workshops’ and TAB plate ‘1017’on the rear of the tender.
The locomotive is fitted with a headlight and marker lights, steam powered turbo generator, safety valves Ashton pop, air compressor, steam injectors and pipework, five chime whistle, hydrostatic lubricator, boiler water gauge glasses, reversing screw, lamp brackets, fireman’s side front buffer beam step and tender access ladder on drivers side, regulator handle, canvas side curtains, light switch and conduits, two tender mounted tool boxes, and bronze framed spectacle plate windows.

The locomotive has inside plate steel riveted frames of the modified ‘High’ type, and a superheated Belpair firebox boiler supplying steam to two outside cylinders driving 6 balanced spoked wheels with plain journal bearings. Power is transmitted from the cylinders through Allan’s inside piston valve gear, Alligator cross heads and fluted connecting and coupling rods.

The double axle leading truck is of inside plate frame riveted construction with a 4 hole disc wheel axles with friction bearing axle boxes and leaf/coil spring suspension. The 6 main driving wheels also feature leaf spring compensated suspension.

The tender is of a riveted bogie configuration with spoked wheel outside plain journal axle boxes and leaf spring compensated suspension. The tender and locomotive are connected by two forged steel drawbars. The locomotive is fitted with forward air operated sanding only.

The locomotive is fitted with a Westinghouse air braking system, operating a brake cylinder on both the engine and tender. The engine brake rigging applies six large brake shoes bearing one on the outside of each of the three driving axles. The tender’s bogies brake rigging applies two outside bearing brake shoes to each axle. A mechanical hand brake is fitted to both the tender and engine. The locomotive is fitted with hooked drawgear and Turton buffers.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Operational Status: Non-Operational
General Condition: Good Condition
External Condition: Good Condition
Internal Condition: Good Condition

Externally the locomotive is in very good condition with few missing or damaged fittings and the paint system in moderate condition with some corrosion present mainly associated with the tender tank. The locomotive's front turton buffers and hook draw gear are secure and serviceable with the shunters steps and grab iron on the fireman’s side complete. The smokebox of this locomotive is in good condition with the cast funnel, centre dart and hand wheel complete and operational along with the two electric marker lights and large headlight. The boiler’s sheet steel clothing is in good condition with all clothing straps secure and little rust blow out or corrosion present. The black painted brass dome cover is intact with little evidence of damage. The clothing on both cylinders is in very good condition with no corrosion present. The tender tank is generally in moderate to poor condition with extensive areas of corrosion visible as well as previous riveted repair patches visible along the bottom of the tank on the driver’s side. The coal slope sheet has surface corrosion present with more extensive areas of corrosion on the front bulkhead beneath the shovelling plate. The two tender coal doors are in place and operational. The water filling collar on the rear deck of the tender is complete with extensive corrosion visible from the open hatch in the water space. The steel access ladder is securely mounted on the back of the tender along with two electric marker lights and the conduit connection for the fitting of a rear headlight. The tender buffers and hook drawgear are secure and in good condition. The locomotive has an overall coating of road grime and surface corrosion on exposed steelwork with heavier oil and grease based deposits below the running boards and around the wheels and motion.

The locomotive units underframe appears to be good condition overall with surface corrosion evident though no major damage or are pitting present. The ‘high’ style frame fitted to this locomotive appears to be straight with no undue wear visible. There is a heavy build up of oil and dirt present on the inside of the frame members. The draw box area beneath the cab floor appears to be in good condition with a moderate build up of debris present beneath the cab floor. The tender's underframe is in moderate condition due to the extensive internal corrosion of the tender tank spreading to some of the internal structural members resulting in pitting on the top of frame members. A heavy build up of road grime is also present.

The locomotive's twin axle leading truck appears complete with the disc wheels retaining an acceptable profile and exhibiting near new diameter with little wear. The inside plain journal axle bearings appear to be in good condition. The tender’s bogies appear complete with the spoke wheeled axles having a good profile, acceptable wear and material available for reprofiling. Minor surface corrosion and heavy road grime are present. All the plain journal bearings appear complete and there is no record of overheating occurring during the movement of this locomotive in April 2009.
The locomotive has an all over Black paint finish with Red and Straw lining and flat Black smokebox finish. This paint finish was applied during a heavy overhaul carried out at Eveleigh Workshops in 1972. The paint system has a 90% coverage with the locomotive units paint exhibiting good adhesion with little peeling or flaking. The tender has up to 30% of its paint finish showing signs of loosing adhesion with flaking and peeling paint present as well as surface corrosion and rust blow out in areas. The locomotive units underframe wheels and motion are heavily covered with grease, oil and road grime with little surface finish visible. The locomotive has a well preserved interlocking NSWR logos sign written on the cast sand boxes over the centre drivers and hand lined Red and Straw boiler bands and pin striping on the tender, cylinder covers, air compressor and headlight. The cab roof exhibits a sound finish of silver over its tin sheet lining. The Red painted buffer beam on the front of the locomotive and tender headstocks have a reasonable sound surfaces affording corrosion protection to the riveted steel plate. The locomotive's tender underframe outside longitudinales and bogies exhibit a good coverage of serviceable black paint giving good corrosion protection with only minor road grime, oil and dirt build up present.

The condition of most of the fittings of this locomotive are good with the majority in position and appearing to be operational. All electrical equipment appears complete with the steam powered turbo generator secure as well as the headlight, marker lights and cab switches and conduits. The two Ashton safety valves on the top of the firebox have canvas covers fitted to them with the safety valve fitted in the top of the dome complete. The Westinghouse B Type air compressor mounted on the fireman’s side of the boiler appears complete with all associated pipe work secure. The cab mounted air brake gauges have been removed but the brake valve remains. The two underfloor mounted injectors are complete with pipework and sluce boxes in place. The five chime whistle remains secure on the top of the firebox. Cab fittings missing include the Detroit Hydrostatic lubricator, steam gauges, regulator handle, boiler water gauge glasses. The drivers reversing screw is complete with cab side canvas curtains above.

The tender of the locomotive is from 3214 and still retains it’s steam heating pipework running down the drivers side with water trap, isolating cock and connections complete. The tender has also been fitted for through water pipework on the fireman’s side and a bottom tender filling pipe which all appears complete. The two tender top mounted toolboxes are complete though suffering from corrosion.
Various cast plates remain including the ‘NSWR EVELEIGH WORKS 1913’ plates on either side of the tender, ‘Eveleigh Workshops’ and TAB plate ‘1017’on the rear of the tender, boiler backhead ‘THIS LOCOMOTIVE FITTED WITH PILOT DRIFTING VALVE’ and fireman’s cab side ‘REGISTERED 160 PRESSURE’.

The locomotive’s generally good overall appearance is an indication of the its mechanical condition. The locomotives three main driving axles have good tyre profile and wear with the plain journal axle bearings appearing complete with no reports of overheating during the locomotives transfer in April 2009. The compensated spring gear also appears complete with thorough inspection not possible. The ‘Allan’s inside piston valve gear has its eccentric rods and die blocks removed witch are located in the tenders coal space and have surface corrosion evident. The Alligator cross heads appear in moderate condition with gudgeon pins intact and pistons fitted. The little end brass bearings are still fitted to the connecting rods located in the tenders coal space, with the fluted coupling rods remaining connected to the driving wheels with a heavy build up of oil and grease present. The locomotive's Westinghouse air braking system would appear to be operational with the brake cylinders and brake rigging complete with little wear evident to components. Both engine and tender mechanical hand brakes are operational. The locomotive's hook draw gear and Turton buffers are secure with the drawgear hooks appearing to have been recently crack tested. The engine - tender double forged drawbars appear in good condition with no extensive corrosion or structural damage visible to the draw boxes.

The superheated Belpair boiler fitted to the locomotive has had its tubes removed as well as all of the smokebox equipment, regulator valve and brick arch. The regulator rod is unbolted from the boiler backhead and withdrawn slightly. The removed smokebox and regulator components are located in the tender coal space with varying degrees of corrosion evident. Reports available suggest the boiler failed an examination in 1978 and the tubes were removed in the early 1980s to allow for an internal examination of the boiler’s barrel.

The tender's running mechanical equipment appears to be in moderate to good condition with no obvious missing components or faults visible in spring gear or axle boxes. The wheel profile is good with material left for reprofiling. The water tank mounted above the frame is severely corroded and failing, leading to corrosion of the tender’s underframe especially the internal structural members. All buffers and hook drag gear are complete and secure

The cab roof is in moderate condition with the stretched navy dressed canvas having been replaced with tin sheeting painted silver .The timber ceiling lining boards have areas of decay present. The cab floor timbers are complete and serviceable with some cracking evident with the steel foreplate and fixings secure. The locomotives cab structure is in very good condition with only minor surface corrosion visible. The cab's internal paint finish shows years of neglect with heavy soiling of the boiler backheads black finish with surface corrosion evident. The cab walls are of a light green colour with large areas of flaking paint present. The timber roof linings are painted black with heavy soot soiling present. A number of handwheels and fittings appear to have been painted red in the past but little surface coverage now remains. The canvas porthole window side curtains are in position though degraded by exposure with the spectacle plate bronze window frames remaining with some glass panels cracked.

No internal examination of the boiler was possible so its condition is unknown. The boiler failed a boiler inspection due to firebox crown stays reaching condemning size in 1978. The firebox appears to be complete with rosebud fire grates in position along with their cab mounted rocking gear, however the brick arch has been removed. The boiler’s tubes, flues and superheater elements have also been removed. The regulator valve, smokebox mounted blast pipe cap, petticoat, blower ring, baffles, spark arrester and Webb fire hole door have also been removed and all appear to be located in the tender coal or water space. The internal condition of the tender appears poor as viewed through the filling hatch with extensive corrosion being present and failed baffles.

Asbestos Contamination Risk, as lagging containing asbestos may be present on the boiler of the locomotive as well as in gaskets and lagging of steam heating pipes on the tender. Paint on body may contain lead due to age of vehicle.
Date condition updated:19 Oct 09
Modifications and dates: 1892 - built by Beyer Peacock and Company, Gorton Foundry, Manchester and delivered as their works number 3402
early 1892 - commenced service with road number No 8 of the P(6) class,
1899 - Regulators replaced with double beat type.
1899 - Steam sanding fitted.
1907 - Sand boxes increased in size.
1910 - Smokebox lengthened.
1915 - York mechanical lubricators fitted replaced shortly after by Detroit hydrostatic lubricators.
1916 - Injectors relocated from boiler backhead to below cab floor and clack valves fitted behind dome.
1920 - Frames lengthened under smoke box.
1922 - Clack valves moved to behind smokebox.
1922 - Electric lighting fitted originally only headlight but eventually cab lights, markers and steps.
1923 - Westinghouse B Type compressors fitted and smokebox dampers (removed in 1930).
1924 - Town and country whistle replaced with 5 chime.
1924 - class renumbered C32
1928 - Piston tail rods removed.
1930 - Pilot drifting valves and gauges fitted.
Mid 1932 - Superheated boiler, self cleaning extended smokebox, 21’ cylinders and steam chest, 9’ inside admission piston valves. Recoded as 3203. 6 wheel tender replaced with bogie tender.
1933 - Air sanding fitted.
Late 1930s - Rosebud rocking grates fitted.
1940 - Ramsbottom safety valves replace Ashton Type.
August 1967 - withdrawn from service
September 1954 - Reframed with high frame, the third last of 63 engines to be modified., New boiler No. 3203D fitted, obtained from commonwealth Railways, (intended for CR G Class) boiler mounts modified to accept.
March 1964 - Shopped for heavy repair and returned to service with automatic coupler on tender.
1972 - Overhaul, boiler changed and repainted in current scheme.
1975 - transferred to RTM
1978 - removed from service
1980s - placed in static display

During this locomotive's 86 year service life a large number of modifications were carried out to improve performance and reliability. These modifications were carried out to the entire 32 Class over a number of years as they passed through the Railways workshops. Locomotive 3203 passed through such workshops for overhaul on 55 occasions and received 13 different boilers during its service life.
Modifications to the Class include:
Springing and compensation alterations
Fitting of Richardson balanced slide valves
Fitting of air compressor govenors
Tender swapped to hook drawgear bogie tender with steam heating fitted from 3214.
Tender fitted with through water piping and steam heating equipment.
Current use: NSW Government Railways Collection
Former use: Express Passenger Locomotive


Historical notes: Designed by William Thow, Chief Mechanical Engineer of the New South Wales Government Railways, 3203 was ordered from Beyer Peacock and Company, Gorton Foundry, Manchester and delivered as their works number 3402 in 1892. Allocated road number No 8 of the P(6) class, it commenced service in early 1892 on the NSWGR as the first P(6) class in service. The class arose from the urgent need to design modern motive power to deal with the increasing weight of passenger and mail trains. Though Thow had designed a 4-6-0 when CME of the South Australian Railways, the P(6) class was revolutionary in sheer size and output. Predating the first 4-6-0 in the United Kingdom by 18 months, the class took over all important services immediately with very few problems, remarkable in such innovative engines. They were used to introduce premier passenger expresses, including the South Coast Daylight, the Caves Express, the Newcastle Express and 'The Fish'. Such was the success of the first 50 locomotives delivered, that further orders were placed with Beyer Peacock and other builders leading to a total of 191 being delivered between 1892 and 1911. The design was also used as the basis for the ‘G’ class, first passenger locomotives built for the Commonwealth Railways, working the line between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie.

Unchallenged on mainline passenger service until the advent of the C35 and C36 classes, the C32 as they became after the 1924 re-numbering, maintained a significant presence on secondary mainline and branch workings until the late 1960s. Withdrawn from service in August 1967, Locomotive 3203 was placed in the custodianship of the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum in 1975 in operational condition and was one of the first locomotives to be returned to service by NSWRTM Volunteers. Over the next three years the locomotive was maintained in operational condition with regular maintenance until boiler problems saw it removed from service in 1978. Following this withdrawal from service the locomotives boiler tubes and flues were removed to allow internal inspection. Along with locomotive 3214, it was set aside for static display in the 1980s.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences Shaping inland settlements-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements Railway work culture-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Steam Locomotive 3203 has historical significance as the first locomotive of an extremely important class (32 (P)) to enter service, the first 4-6-0 type of locomotive in NSW service and the first of the ‘standard’ classes of locomotives introduced by CME William Thow as part of his rationalisation of NSWGR power. It represents an example of the most numerous and successful express passenger locomotive on the NSWGR.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Based on current knowledge, Steam Locomotive 3203 is not known to have any special associations with people or events of significance in a local or state context. It does not have significance under this criterion.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Steam Locomotive 3203 has aesthetic significance as it is a particularly elegant and well-proportioned locomotive, of typically British appearance with tall chimney and dome and very clean lines. The sandboxes cast integral with the leading driving wheel splashers are a particularly distinctive and pleasing feature.

Steam Locomotive 3203 has a high level of technical significance as a good example of the first class on the NSWGR to use the 4-6-0 wheel arrangement, well in advance of British designs, and was the first class of locomotives to have Belpair fireboxes from delivery. They were the first locomotives to be fitted in 1911 with fire-tube superheater elements, a design feature that was to become standard on all new NSWGR locomotives and retro fitted to most other classes from that time. The 32 (P) Class were also the first locomotives on the NSWGR to use Allan straight-link valve gear.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Steam Locomotive 3203 is likely to have a degree of social value for the community-based associations who have demonstrated an ongoing interest in its conservation and management. This item may also have a degree of social significance to a broader section of the community linked to its historic, aesthetic and associative values.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Steam Locomotive 3203 has a high level of research significance. The locomotive has the potential to reveal information regarding the development of a state-of-the-art passenger steam locomotive in 1892, and demonstrates the boldness of Thow in designing a large 4-6-0 in advance of the type running in Britain.
SHR Criteria f)
Steam Locomotive 3203 is rare as one of only four survivors of a highly significant class of locomotives, and one of very few express passenger locomotives from the Victorian period, Locomotive 3203 is demonstrably rare. It is one of the three re-framed locomotives.
SHR Criteria g)
Steam Locomotive 3203 is an excellent representative example of a passenger locomotive from the 1890s. As one of the 66 re-framed members of the 32 Class, Locomotive 3203 is representative of the group, and as it retains most of the features of the class as introduced, it is representative of the class in its entirety.
Integrity/Intactness: Steam Locomotive 3203 retains a high level of integrity and intactness. Despite undergoing numerous overhauls during its long working life, the locomotive essentially remains in its ex-service configuration.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
SRA Heritage Rolling Stock Stage 2b Heritage Assessments2000 David Sheedy Pty Ltd Architects and Heritage ConsultantsSteven Adams Yes
S170 Rolling Stock Review2009 NSW Department of Commerce  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenGrunbach, A1989A Compendium of New South Wales Steam Locomotives
WrittenMcNicol, S1985Preserved NSWGR Steam
WrittenOberg, L1996Locomotives of Australia
WrittenPreston, R. G.1987Standards in Steam - The 32 Class
WrittenRTM2003Locomotive, steam 3203 CMP
WrittenTurner, J1998Early Australian Steam Locomotives 1855 - 1895

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 4807224

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