Ruston Hornsby Diesel Locomotives No. 304 and 306

Waratah Gypsum Co

2 Foot Gauge


Class operators: Waratah Gypsum Co

Condition: Good

Entered service: 1937-49

Entered the museum: 25.11.1971

Ownership: Port Dock Station Railway Trust

Withdrawn: 1971


Nowadays it is largely forgotten that there used to exist, in South Australia, a number of small privately owned railways, built for particular purposes, usually but not always to provide access to deep sea ports. Equally, it is not always remembered that what are now small seaside towns were once flourishing ports in their own right. Usually such ports had their own large jetties, and nearly always such jetties had a railway line that ran their entire length.

Such a port was Marion Bay on the southern tip of Yorke Peninsula, while another, operated until quite recently, was Stenhouse Bay. Both existed mainly for the removal of gypsum, which was found locally in large quantities. The Hassell Marion Bay Gypsum Company used two tiny steam engines on its line to Marion Bay until 1921; while another line used horses to haul gypsum from Inneston to Stenhouse Bay until 1920.

In 1926 the Waratah Gypsum Company started business with a 2’ mile line from Marion Lake to Stenhouse Bay, and was unusual in that it operated all petrol/diesel engines, which it distinguished by letters rather than numbers. Thus, F and G were built by Vulcan Iron Works in the United States of America and were powered by a Deutz 50 horsepower engine, while H, another Vulcan product, had a Caterpillar diesel engine. J, K and M were built by Malcolm Moore of Melbourne and were based on Fordson tractors. After these, the Company decided that it would be more rational to use numbers instead of letters, and two engines were numbered 304 and 306. These two were both Ruston Hornsby engines, but different sizes. The older and smaller engine was originally known as Ruston, but the other engine was referred to directly by its number identification, 306.

To carry the gypsum the Company had a fleet of 32 bogie trucks, each weighing 4 tons and capable of carrying 8 tons of gypsum. The trains survived into the 1960s, when the task of transporting the gypsum was transferred to motor lorries. This little tramway operated on two foot gauge, and was one of several around the state. Unfortunately, none now survive.

These two locomotives are currently on loan to other organisations.

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Port Adelaide
South Australia  5015
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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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