Steam Locomotive A21

Silverton Tramway Company

Narrow Gauge


Class operators: Silverton Tramway Company

Condition: Excellent

Entered service: 1915

Entered the museum: 2.10.1965

Length (over coupling points): 44’ 6’’

Number in class: 4

Ownership: Port Dock Station Railway Trust

Provenance: Silverton Tramways Company

Total Weight: 59.10 tons

Tractive Effort: 18,467 lbs

Wheel Arrangement: 4-6-0

Withdrawn: 28.10.1960


Before the First World War, the Silverton Tramway needed new locomotives for the increasing work on the main line. The South Australian Railways had replaced its Y’s with the larger T’s, but the Silverton Tramway still operated its section of the line with the popular little Y’s. To take over the task, a pair of 4-6-0 tender engines were delivered by Beyer-Peacock of Manchester. Numbered 18 and 19, these two engines were designated as belonging to class A. In 1915 another pair were delivered to complete the class.

Like their T-class counterparts, these engines were to be long lived on the strenuous ore runs, pulling their heavy trains for nearly 40 years. All the engines of the class were built with small tenders so as to keep them within the limits imposed by the 50 foot turntables, but the two later engines did have slightly larger tenders than the earlier pair.

In their turn the A’s were to be replaced by the larger Mountain type W’s in 1951, but instead of being scrapped they were put on the shunting turns, and two were hired by the South Australian Railways for shunting duties at Peterborough. For the last few years they saw only limited service at Broken Hill, and A18 was the last A to work on 20th January 1961.

These engines had large boilers, and have been compared with some of the famous engines of the British Great Western Railway. Although not as powerful as the T’s to whom they would hand over their loads at Cockburn, they were every bit as impressive.

On the 35 route miles of the Silverton Tramway these engines could haul loaded ore trains weighing up to 830 tons. On the other hand they were equally at home on the Broken Hill Express. Officially, they were designated as being mixed traffic engines, and indeed they could handle anything required of them. They had a fairly small diameter driving wheel (4’ 3‘’) and were only allowed to travel at up to 35 miles an hour.

At various times during the Second World War and during the early 1950s all were loaned to the South Australian Railways. No. 21 was loaned in 1944 and between 29.11.1951 and 28.2.1953.

No. 21 was written off on 28.10.1960 and placed in the Mile End Railway Museum on 2.10.1965. It was transferred to the museum on 1.9.1988 and became the first locomotive to be pushed into the rolling stock pavilion on 19.11.1988.

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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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