Locomotive E1

Broken Hill Proprietary Company

Narrow Gauge


Class operators: Broken Hill Proprietary Company

Condition: Fair

Entered service: October 1928

Entered the museum: 1999

Length (over coupling points): 28’ (8.53m)

Number in class: 8

Ownership: Port Dock Station Railway Trust

Provenance: Broken Hill Proprietary Ltd

Total Weight: 25 tons (25.50 tonnes)

Wheel Arrangement: Bo-Bo

Withdrawn: 12 July 1968


This electric locomotive was the first of eight operated by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited on two little known quarry railways, at Iron Knob and Iron Monarch in the north of South Australia and at Rapid Bay, south of Adelaide.

All of these locomotives were 3’6’’ gauge (1067mm), weighed 25 tons, and operated from 600 volts direct current.

Introduced at the iron stone quarries at Iron Knob in 1928, the three original locomotives E1-E3 built by Metropolitan Vickers Electrical Co. Ltd. of Manchester and Sheffield, England were joined by a fourth locomotive, E4, from the same manufacturer in 1935. These locomotives were used at Iron Knob to haul ore wagons from the quarry face to the crusher at the Iron Monarch quarries.

During the Second World War, the company commenced quarrying for limestone at Rapid Bay and two similar locomotives, E5 and E6, were subsequently supplied to the original design by Perry Engineering Co. Ltd. of Mile End, South Australia in 1942. This company built another two locomotives, E7 and E8, to work at Iron Knob and Iron Monarch in 1954.

Two methods of current collection were used on these vehicles. In the quarries where the wagons were loaded by overhead shovels, side bow collectors were used whilst a conventional pantograph was used on the main line to the crusher.

The locomotives were usually operated in pairs and hauled ten 25 ton ore wagons between them. They were powered by four 35 horsepower motors and geared down to a maximum speed of 11 miles per hour.

After the company replaced the railway systems in its quarries with road transport most of the locomotives were cut up for scrap. No. E1 was withdrawn from service on 12 July 1968 and donated to the Tramway Museum at St. Kilda, South Australia by BHP.

It was transferred to the National Railway Museum in 1999.

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The National Railway Museum acknowledges the Kaurna people as the traditional owners and custodians of the Adelaide Plains. We honour and respect their ongoing cultural and spiritual connections to this country. We aim to respect the cultural heritage, customs and beliefs of all Indigenous people.

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