Loco 3214

Locomotive 3214

About the exhibit

Static exhibit
CLASS P(6) (pre 1924), (C)32 (1924 classification)
3214 was built by Beyer Peacock & Co in 1892

Asbestos lagging removed and cosmetic restoration completed in 2016. Climb in the cab and experience the conditions train crews worked in!


Transport Heritage NSW trading as Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum


One of the system’s most outstanding locomotive classes, it was designed by W. Thow, the newly-appointed Locomotive Engineer in consultation with Beyer Peacock & Company. The firm delivered a batch of 50, which went into service between February, 1892, and July, 1893, and they at once became known as the "Manchester engines". The builders were rather diffident as to their success, as they had no previous experience of locomotives of "such heavy weight"!

At the request of the Railway Commissioners, the builders altered the last two of this batch to compounds, these having a single 21 in. (533 mm) high-pressure cylinder on the left-hand side and twin 22 in. (559 mm) low-pressure cylinders, driving a common crosshead, on the right-hand side. They had a von Borries' intercepting valve to permit high pressure steam being fed to all cylinders on starting. It may be noted that this cylinder arrangement for a compound locomotive was one never before or since employed in British locomotive practice.

98 tons (99.6 t) with bogie tender
101 tons 12 cwt (103.2 t) (Baldwin)

Recurrent difficulty associated with starting ended the experiment and the two locomotives were converted to two-cylinder simples in 1901 but, due to the unsatisfactory rearrangement of the blast pipe their record was not of the best.

The P(6)-class were the first on the system to be built new with Belpaire fireboxes, and Allan straight-link motion instead of the almost universal Stephenson valve gear. Their neat appearance, when compared with the earlier and comparable O(440)-class, was most marked and a noticeable and rather unusual feature, almost unique among locomotives generally, was the sandbox placed centrally atop the leading driving wheel splashier.

These locomotives became one of the most successful and versatile locomotives on the system and their numbers were added to repeatedly over the next 19 years, until their total rose to no less than 191. After the first 50, all others were fitted with a bogie tender when built, and the original batch had bogie tenders fitted later, except for a few, which still retained the six -wheel tender for turning on a 50-feet diameter turntable, at the end of 1965.

Their construction was shared by four builders, distributed as follows:-

In 1911, No. 937 was obtained from Beyer Peacock with a Schmidt· superheater, as an experiment, having cylinders of 21 in. diameter and 150 lbs. boiler pressure. As a result of experience with this locomotive, the saturated engines were fitted with superheaters of various designs as they came in for re-boilering between 1914 and 1939, the cylinder diameters being increased to 21 inches and inside admission piston valves were substitute for the old, flat D-type.

From 1933, new and stronger frames were fitted, to prevent fractures that had been occurring. The alteration raised the boiler four inches, which actually improved their riding quality. With this alteration and the superheating, the old engines were given a new ease of file. They have been known to attain speeds of up to 73 m.p.h. (117 km/h), in spite of their small  driving wheels.

It is interesting to note that the first passenger-type locomotives used on the Trans-Australian line, the G-class, followed the design of the P(6) class, their tenders, however, being of greater capacity.

Text from Century Plus of Locomotives, © Australian Railway Historical Society, 1965. Used by permission.