Tuesday, 17 May 2016

"Saved Twice" - The Amazing Preservation Story of Double Fairlie E175 "Josephine"

"Josephine" as she appears today in the entrance hall
 Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin
[Source : reefton.co.nz/the-r28-locomotive]

We have already read in my first two blog instalments [Click here for link] about the inaugural through express train from Christchurch to Dunedin led by the American built K88 "Washington", being assisted for part of the way by the English built Double-Fairlie "Josephine". After last weeks blog about the amazing discovery and preservation to working order of "K88 Washington" let us now read about the eleventh hour preservation in 1925 of the Double Fairlie locomotive No E175 "Josephine", having, like "Washington", come so very, very close to being lost to us forever. But in 1968 her fate once again hung in the balance. Who would come to her rescue a second time?

"Josephine" builders plate,
Vulcan Foundry Co. Ltd.,
Newton Le Willows, 1872
[From my own collection]

"Josephine" was - and still is - very special. She was ordered by the then Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway Company ("D&PCR Co") from the builders, the Vulcan Foundry of Newton-Le-Willows in Lancashire England in 1872. The decision to purchase double ended locomotives and light rolling stock to the "light surface railway" design of English Railway Engineer Robert F. Fairlie had been on the advice and recommendation of the Civil & Consulting Engineer, Mr John Millar F.S.A.in his report of the 5th October 1869 to the Otago Provincial Government (who were to provide a financial guarantee).

By August 1872, both "Josephine" and her sister engine "Rose" had arrived in kitset form at Port Chalmers New Zealand from Bristol England on the sailing ship "Wave Queen". The names of the engines had in fact been chosen by Mr Oliver, one of the promoters, while on a visit to England. Accompanying the engines from Bristol were Mr Amos, being an Engineer and in charge of the plant, John ("Jack") Thomas, and Mr Gatwood.

Double Fairlie Locomotive Plans
from the Vulcan Foundry

The Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway Company "No 2" locomotive "Josephine" would be completed first as she had been the first to be unloaded from the "Wave Queen". She then underwent a steam trial on the 10th September 1872, being moved from the shed on the pier where she had been erected and through the wharf tunnel to Sawyers Bay and return. She thus holds the honour of being the first 3ft 6in locomotive to steam in New Zealand. Until the end of the year she assisted with the completion of the line but on the 18th September 1872 hauled the first goods train on the line - a shipment of three hogsheads of beer from Burke's Brewery to Port Chalmers. The "New Zealand Railways Magazine" of August 1934 states that the locomotive was driven on this occasion by the above-named John "Jack" Thomas, "Everyone's old friend", who would go on to have a long and faithful railways career

Double-Fairlie "Josephine",
Burton Brothers Photo, believed
taken during a trial run in 1872.
[Source : OESA Collection, 1979]

On Saturday the 26th October 1872, and with the Engineer Mr Amos driving and Mr Thomas acting as brakes man, "Josephine" conveyed several members of the Legislative Council and House of Representatives from Port Chalmers through to Dunedin in one of the first class carriages, the line now being in a sufficient state of completion.

However her sister, "No 1" Double Fairlie locomotive "Rose", is recorded as holding the honour of hauling the first train at the official opening of the line on Tuesday the 31st December 1872. A public train service commenced the following day, being Wednesday the 1st January 1873. Both locomotives continued in service until the D&PCR Co. was amalgamated into the Otago Provincial Government Railways system when the latter purchased the line, locomotives and equipment on the 10th April 1873 for £187,106 "Josephine" was then renumbered as Otago Railways "No 7", being used on other parts of the railway network including the Lawrence Branch.  After the Provincial Governments were abolished in November 1876 she is now listed in the 1877 New Zealand Government Otago Railways Locomotive list as "E26".

A fanciful sketch of the 'Yankee' K88 
laughing at Josephine on the first through 
express train from Christchurch to Dunedin".
[Source : The New Zealand Railways Magazine 1934]

On the 6th September 1878 "Josephine" went on to achieve a further claim to fame when she acted for part of the journey as second (banking) engine on the inaugural Christchurch to Dunedin express train which is the subject of my second blog in this four part series.

This was accompanied by some heated Otago / Canterbury rivalry when a lengthy discussion took place as to which locomotive would take the lead. But as we now know, "Josephine" ran as second engine from Oamaru and suffered mechanical problems which necessitated her being taken off the train at Seacliff as her fitter could do no more with her. Her crew maintained that her failure was solely due to her having been forced to take an unequal load on the very steep section immediately south of Oamaru.

[From my own collection]

The "E" class Fairlie Patent engines were latterly always known to be unspectacular performers and their unique and complicated design comprising of separately powered bogies and swivelling steam and exhaust pipes fitted with expansion joints no doubt made for heavier maintenance than might otherwise be the case. But I perceive there is always two sides to the story.

The two major features of Robert Fairlie's patented design were to usefully allow the locomotive to move forward or in reverse at the same speed without always needing to be turned on a turntable, a major failing of conventional locomotives. Secondly, Fairlie strongly believed that his design provided greater traction with weight being evenly distributed and all wheels being powered. Coal and water were carried in side tanks, again assisting with traction. And a deep firebox could be accommodated between the two swivelling powered bogies. At any rate early Otago railwaymen were fiercely loyal to their unique Double Fairlies.

"Josephine" leaving the old Dunedin Railway Station
in 1885 with First Church shown at rear
[Source : The New Zealand Railways Magazine, 1934]

Sister engine "E27 Rose" by comparison had a short life and was officially written off after an unfortunate accident just north of Palmerston on the 20th Sept 1878 "and was dismantled at Hillside [railway work] shops" [Ref. O.D.T. 5 Feb 1929].

But "Josephine" continued in service with New Zealand Railways, being transferred to the Wanganui region in the North Island as "E24" in November 1883. She was given her final NZR number of "E175" in the general re-numbering which took place in 1890, being still generally known by this number today. During her time here she travelled as far as Sentry hill, Palmerston North, and Summit. On the 4th March 1899 she was officially "Written Off", then sold to the New Zealand Public Works Department for £500 to assist with works trains, thereupon becoming "PWD No. 504".

Double Fairlie "Josephine", as seen at Beaumont on
the Roxburgh branch line during her later service
 with the NZ Public Works Department, pre 1914.
[Source : G.W. Emerson]

In January 1901 "Josephine" was shipped back to Dunedin where she assisted with hauling materials for the construction of new railway lines. This is an area where her double ended construction would have proved very useful. She is known to have been at Ida Valley when that station became the rail-head for the Otago Central Branch.

In September 1903 "Josephine" made another short foray to the North Island to assist with the construction of the Main Trunk Railway around Mangaweka, Waiouru, Ohakune and Horopito. In 1909 she returned to Dunedin yet again to assist with the construction of further lines. This initially included the Lawrence to Beaumont section of the Roxburgh line, then twelve months later she moved north to Canterbury and over a period of four years assisted The Public Works Dept. with the construction of the Midland line.

In 1914 "Josephine" assisted with work on the final Houipapa to Tahakopa section of the new Catlins Branch Railway, being opened on the 4th February 1915. Her final duties sent her to Clyde in May 1915 for construction work on the Cromwell Gorge section of the Otago Central Railway.

At some point, and according to the 'NZ Railway Observer', she had become known to her crews as "Old Joss". This was perhaps a rather unflattering term for this historic locomotive and has thankfully now been consigned to history.

But in 1917 her time had come and she was now declared surplus to requirements and obviously not worth the cost of a heavy overhaul. In September 1917 she was purchased as scrap for the sum of £173 by the Otago Iron Rolling Mills at Burnside in Dunedin. But at this lowest point in her history fate played a leading role. It is recorded that sentiment delayed her being cut up as no one had the heart to scrap this historic Otago locomotive.

"Josephine" as restored for display in the New Zealand
and South Seas Exhibition, Dunedin, 1925.
Photo by Percy Godber
[Source : National Library of New Zealand]

And then when one of the company's boilers failed "Josephine" was temporarily commissioned for this purpose. She was surprisingly still "languishing" at Burnside in 1925 when, due to the generosity of "Messrs Smellie Bros." (specifically Mr Alexander Smellie), owners of the Otago Iron Rolling Mills, she was cosmetically restored by New Zealand Railways and placed beside World War One memorial locomotive AB608 “Passchendaele” in the railways exhibit at the hugely popular New Zealand and South Seas International Exhibition in Dunedin held from the 17th November 1925 to the 1st May 1926.

Prior to display her original "straight shooter" funnels were replaced with "balloon" style funnels which some members of her class had in fact carried. This appears to have only been done for aesthetic reasons. She was also repainted and "lined out" which was not part of her original livery. But still, she looked resplendent and would quickly again became an object of great public interest and affection.

The cab of "Josephine" showing the boiler
from the driver's side of the footplate.
Photo by Percy Godber, 1925
[Source : National Library of New Zealand]

While both locomotives proved of great interest to exhibition attendees my father freely told me that when a relative pulled him over to see the two shiny locomotives while enthusiastically exclaiming "Oh you must see this" he wasn't the least bit interested. I wistfully perceive that my own 14 year old son would probably have the same reaction now as my then 23 year old father had back in February 1926!

After the Exhibition closed on the 1st May 1926 "Josephine" was then donated by The Otago Iron Rolling Mills Company to The Otago Settlers Association, being placed in January 1927 in the open air in a railed off enclosure outside their museum adjacent to the Dunedin Railway Station. It is noted that this is probably the first instance of dedicated railway preservation in New Zealand.

"Josephine" as she appeared in August 1959,
from a slide taken by William Dykes
[From my own collection]

In July 1955 "Josephine" received some remedial work including replacement of some rusted platework, the work being carried out by volunteers from the Hillside Railway Workshops. But by 1963 her time spent out in all weathers was beginning to take its toll and "Josephine was looking in sad shape" and only expected to last another eight years. So once again her fate hung in the balance. The "Otago Daily Times" ran an article with the headline "No hope for Josephine" and it was believed that "This time she really would be scrapped, or maybe she would be shipped to the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland".  But "The Evening Star" local newspaper valiantly came to Josephine's rescue when in 1966 they ran a public appeal to raise funds so that she could again be cosmetically restored and preserved. School children were instrumental in raising the necessary funds. This was apparently over one thousand pounds.

"Josephine" as she appeared in August 1959,
from a slide taken by William Dykes
[From my own collection]

The restoration was carried out at the New Zealand Railways Hillside Railway Workshops in Dunedin, the opportunity also being taken to replace the non-standard "balloon" funnels with "straight shooter" style funnels.

"Josephine" in her post 1968 'picture window'.
[Source : Internationalsteam.co.uk]

By March 1968 she was returned to the Otago Settlers Museum, being now safely placed inside the building but behind a large glass window facing the small garden outside the museum. Sometime after 1976 she was again 'lined out' with her wheel rims being painted white restoring her non-authentic Exhibition appearance of 1925-26. Ownership of the museum and all its contents, including "Josephine", passed to the Dunedin City Council in 1991, thus now being owned and funded by the good citizens of Dunedin (and that includes myself as a ratepayer).

"Josephine" facing the Dunedin Railway Station, 2016
[From my own collection]

In 2012, and now with her non-authentic 'lined out' livery with white wheel rims painted over to restore her original appearance, "E175 Josephine" took up her new position in pride of place at the northern end of the new architecturally designed and quite stunning entrance foyer of the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum in Dunedin.

Unlike "K88 Washington" there are no plans to restore her to working order. My own opinion is that even were funding and engineering expertise readily available any restoration would be invasive and adversely impact on the original historical integrity of this precious 144 year old locomotive, some of which would need to be wholly replaced, eg, an expensive new boiler would be required. She may very well carry her original Vulcan Foundry boiler and many fittings would be worn out which would all have contributed in the first place as to why she was sold for scrap back in 1917.

That is always the trade off with any major restoration of a worn out locomotive. Sometimes it is worth preserving something that is, as much as possible, not only in original historical condition but also wholly illustrative of late 19th century engineering practices and techniques. That in itself can also be of some considerable interest as evidenced by an article I read in the English railway press a year or two back. "Josephine" has generally never been in the position of "K88 Washington" where considerable replacement or renewal of parts was in any case necessary.

The double door firebox on "Josephine", 2016
[From my own collection]

Apart from cosmetic work of necessity undertaken in 1925 and in 1968 "Josephine" is thus basically still in original 1917 "as sold for scrap" condition. A few years ago all her running gear was nicely polished up (as it would have been originally) and without being too picky that aspect of her present display condition could possibly be improved upon were this work not to be in any way invasive. But otherwise her paintwork is kept shiny and her brass work polished. While she never, like the American "K" class, carried a bell she did carry a clock "for the benefit of enginemen", the clock being donated to the Otago Settler's Museum many years later.

Taken 2016
[From my own collection]

"Josephine" has led a charmed life and Dunedin is very lucky indeed to (still) be the guardians of such a rare locomotive and also an intrinsic part of Otago's early transport history. It is even amazing to think that for a period of around four years she was part of the Otago Provincial Government Railways so really is a tangible link to those formative and early pioneering years of our local history. She really does belong to Otago. Today "Josephine" can gaze out at Dunedin's magnificent 1906 Railway Station and proudly remember her own pioneering part in Otago's history. I wish I could personally thank the Smellie brothers for both their generosity and farsightedness where, to their great credit, personal sentiment won hands down over profit.

[From my own collection]

To witness a Double-Fairlie in steam today, we must go to the Ffestiniog Narrow Gauge Railway in Wales (a line I have travelled on myself) where we can see No 10 "Merrdin Emries" built in 1879 and fully restored in 1987/88, in action. The distinctive double exhaust sound of a Double-Fairlie locomotive (much like double-headed locomotives) is very evident, particularly in the sequence from about 2.40 into the video and again at 3.50. There are more footplate views near the end of the video which show the locomotive crew.


Dimensions :

Cylinders : (4) 10" by 18" x 18"
Wheels : 3' 9" diameter
Heating Surface : Tubes 759 square feet, firebox 79 square feet
Grate Area : 10.25 square feet
Water Tanks : 890 gallons
Coal Bunkers : 17 cwt
Weight (in working order) : 25 tons
Boiler Pressure : 130 pounds per square inch (lb sq. in)
Tractive Effort : 7800lb

Footnote :

It is currently hoped to restore single Fairlie R28 of 1879, being located at Reefton, to working order using the extant boiler from R22 :  http://www.reefton.co.nz/the-r28-locomotive

Sources :

- Papers Past / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
- National Library of New Zealand / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
- "Register of New Zealand Railways Steam Locomotives 1863 - 1971" by WG Lloyd (from my own collection)
- "The New Zealand Railways Magazine", 1934
- Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, Dunedin
- Various Internet resources

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