Locomotive P117

South Australian Railways

Broad Gauge



Class operators                                                  South Australian Railways

Condition                                                            Excellent

Ownership                                                          Port Dock Station Railway Trust

Provenance                                                        South Australian Railways

Class                                                                  P

Class Builders                                                    Beyer-Peacock & Co Manchester England (6), James Martin & Co. Gawler (14)

Number in class                                                 20

Number series                                                   21, 22, 70 - 75, 115 - 126

Built by                                                              James Martin & Co. Gawler

Entered service                                                 12th June 1893

Withdrawn                                                         17th December 1956

Entered the museum                                         24th August 1964

Length (over coupling points)                           28’ 5’’ (8.66 metres)

Total Weight                                                      33.70 tons (33,700 kilograms)

Wheel Arrangement                                          2-4-0

Driving Wheels Diameter                                  60’’ (1524mm)

Maximum Axle Load                                         12 tons 7 cwt (12,609 kilograms)

Boiler Pressure                                                145 lbs psi

Cylinders                                                          2x inside – 16’’ (406mm)

Valve Gear                                                       Stephenson

Tractive Effort                                                  10,517 lbs

Water Capacity                                                 600 gallons (2727 litres)

Coal Capacity                                                  1.5 Tons (1500 kilograms)

Grate Area                                                      14.67 square feet (1.36 square metres)

Mileage                                                            1,305,876 miles (2,101,603 kilometres)

Maximum Speed                                               60 mph (96 km/h)


In 1861 Beyer Peacock & Co., Manchester, England, built for the West Midland railway a 2-4-0 tank locomotive that was to be the forerunner of many of this type built, with few modifications, over the next 25 years. It was a most successful design, represented in Australia by the P-class of the South Australian Railways and the F351-class of the New South Wales Railways.

Suburban trains over Adelaide’s Port and North lines had been hauled by the small and underpowered E and M class tank locomotives before the advent of the P-class in 1884. Twenty were built, the first six coming from Beyer Peacock and the remainder from James Martin & Co., of Gawler. No.117 belongs to the latter series then known as the ‘Colonial Ps’. It carried builder’s number 57, and was placed in service on 12th June 1893. Along with the rest of the class it would have hauled suburban passenger trains until displaced by the F-class 4-6-2s in the early 1900s.

An unusual service worked by the P-class was over the old Clapham branch, then the southern suburban terminus. Consisting of two to four carriages and a four-wheel brake-van, these trains were known as Clapham Dodgers. They ceased running when the suburban service was extended to Eden Hills and the branch-line closed, in 1919.

When the South Australian Railways took over the Glenelg Railway Company’s two lines in 1899 the Ps displaced the Company’s small 4-4-0 and 0-4-4 tanks and, along with the K-class 0-6-4Ts, hauled all trains until these lines were closed in 1929. Thereafter most were used for shunting at Port Adelaide, and hauling Port Line goods trains, with occasional runs on Semaphore passenger trains. A couple were also stabled at Mile End and one at Tailem Bend as roundhouse shunters. With the arrival of the 800-class diesel electrics in 1956, all of the P-class were withdrawn.

No.117 is the sole survivor of the class and the only locomotive in the Museum’s collection with inside cylinders. It was the first locomotive to enter the Mile End Railway Museum on 24th August 1964, and was placed at the Port Dock Museum on 29th October 1988.

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76 Lipson Street
Port Adelaide
South Australia  5015
Open Daily / 10am – 4:30pm





5-15 yrs & with an adult


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  • Open from 12pm on ANZAC Day
  • Closed Christmas Day

Phone: 8341 1690

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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