2′ Fowler 0-4-2T

2′ Fowler 0-4-2 No. 16341

Built – 1924

Well,….. this is an exciting one for us!  We’ve fancied a full size loco for a while, and having a fetish for anything Narrow Gauge, we’ve been on the lookout for the right project to get stuck into.  We wanted a British or French built loco, as we prefer the cleaner lines of those designs over other manufacturers styles, and after narrowing the search to three or four potential candidates, mostly still rusting away overseas, this interesting Fowler, Works number 16341 popped up on our radar!

She’s in need of a little bit of a polish,… ;)…. but she was Tully Sugar Mill’s Number 5, having spent her entire working life out in Queensland Australia.  Although a more modern build than we would have ideally chosen, (built in 1924, and we ideally wanted something a little more Victorian,…. pre 1900 if we could) the loco is certainly a pretty little thing.  Fowler’s works are less then 10 minutes drive from our Workshop here in Leeds, so it’s a locally built loco, and size wise we think it’s going to be a useful and versatile toy to visit railways with.  Not too small so as to be of little practical use, but at the same time not too big that it either won’t fit the smaller railways, or will be a nightmare to move about!  Mechanically too, she is ostensibly complete, in the sense that all the big, expensive bits to manufacture are present, and look to be in reasonable condition for restoration rather than renewal.  There seems to have been an incident at some point with the right hand side cylinder that seems to have happened during the early years of preservation.  A couple of bits of valve gear damaged and missing on the right hand side as well as missing cylinder and valve chest covers, but the bottom end is essentially symmetrical, so we will be able to use the complete left hand side to copy.

But the clincher was that we can legitimately paint it in Fowler Brown, which has always been a favourite livery here at Steam Workshop!

So,…. the loco.  She was ordered by the Agent-General for Queensland (in London) as part of a batch of five locomotives for Tully Central Sugar Mill around June 1924, leaving Fowler’s works in December of that year.  When she and her sisters arrived in Tully, in early 1925, when the sugar mill there was being built by the Queensland state government they were numbered 1-5, our loco becoming Number 5.  The above Fowler works photo shows exactly how our loco was when delivered, but is actually works number 16339 from the same batch and became Tully Number 3.

The sugar mill was sold to the farmers to become ‘Tully Co-operative Sugar Milling Association Ltd’ in 1931, and some time around this date it seems that the loco was modified by the addition of expanded water tanks into the coal spaces on the footplate necessitating the addition of a rear coal bunker.  It seems that the loco was at this time also fitted with the distinctive non-standard smokebox door that she still wears today, which we will almost certainly rectify during the restoration.

Here are some photos of our loco in action at Tully Sugar Mill back in 1956.

In 1961 she was withdrawn from service and preserved at a children’s playground in a park in Tully (see the photographs below).

You can see in the photos the start of the damage to the right hand side valve gear.  The valve appears to have seized and as the loco has been shunted the rocking expansion link has pushed the valve rod bending it gracefully into a bit of a banana shape. She spent 11 years there before being sold to Bruce Macdonald from Marsden Museum in Goulburn New South Wales in 1972.

In 1973 she was sold to Forbes Municipal and Jemalong Shire Councils and moved to Lachlan Vintage Village in NSW.  The Vintage Village subsequently passed to Forbes Shire Council in 1981, and then again to the O’Keefe Family Trust in 1984.  Sadly whilst at Lachlan Vintage Village the locomotive was used for spare parts and was described by visitors as derelict.  The water tanks and the right hand side cylinder was removed, presumably because of the damage to that side.

…..and here a little later showing   The chimney has disappeared too.  We think the apparent green paint on the left hand photo might be to do with the film rather than representative of the actual colour.

After another decade languishing in the sidings she was purchased in 1986 by Warwick Turner and temporarily moved to Swan Hill, Victoria before being moved again later in the same year to Turner’s property at Echuca, Victoria.  This would be No.5s resting place for the next 32 years until in 2018!

Warwick passed away in 2016, the estate and loco passing to his estate which ultimately agreed to sell the loco to Jeremy Martin over here in the UK for his Richmond Valley Light Railway.  So 95 years after Fowler 16341 left England for the other side of the world, she made her way back across the sea to the UK in the early part of 2019, and after a brief spell in Kent, we bought her from Jeremy and moved her up north to a ‘secret location’ for what will hopefully be her final spell as a derelict loco.  Here she is arriving on site on the 9th December 2019.

We’ve made a little page here to contain the photos we have found of the other 4 locos from the Tully batch built by Fowlers in 1924.  Just click here to have a look.

 

We have created a whole page for you to follow the restoration which will be updated and filled in with photos, details and videos as we go.  This page will be constantly edited and developed over the course of the project, (fitting it around the ‘actual’ work), so you’ll have to forgive the odd unfinished sentence and missing picture here and there!

To follow our progress, click here.