The Richmond Vale Railway was a colliery railway line in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia, servicing coal mines at Minmi, Stockrington, Pelaw Main and Richmond Main. It was over sixteen miles long and passed through three tunnels, and was the last privately-owned, non-tourist, railway in Australia to use steam locomotives as late as 1987.
The Richmond Vale ROD locomotives.
WW1 British built Ministry of Munitions 2-8-0 ex ROD (Railway Operating Department) locomotives were purchased by J & A Brown for use on the Richmond Vale Railway serving the J A Brown Collieries, 13 were bought in total. These locomotives were basically a Great Central Railway (GCR) 8K class 2-8-0 such as the preserved 63601 at Loughboro, the design dating back to 1911.
The design was chosen by the Ministry of Munitions in the UK based on its simple rugged design and ability to deliver. 566 were built for the ROD by the govt in WW1, many seeing service overseas, however many were built and saw little or no use as the war ended but locos were still being finished.
The ROD locos were stored after the war but tried out by many UK companies such as the LNWR, CR, GWR, LSWR etc... however most were handed back. Eventually the government agreed that the LNER would take more or less the whole fleet less those already disposed of such as the 13 for Australia, 46 to China and the GWR locos etc at a knock down price. The locomotives ran as class O4 under the LNER and BR lasting well into the 60s. Various rebuilds were tried but many remained unaltered. The power class given by BR was 8F based on the excellent Tractive effort of 31,326Lb.
The 13 J & A Brown locos lasted into the 70s hauling coal trains in NSW around the Richmond Vale System with the last 2 locos only dropping their fires on the 28th June 1973.
The fleet was scrapped between 1968-73, but 3 locomotives were sold and survive in preservation today.
RODs were built by a number of companies- North British Loco, Kitson, Robert Stephenson and even the GCR at Gorton. Aprrox 641 locos built inc the GCR locos.
The Brown locos were allocated internal running numbers 12- 24.
The RODs were in fact replaced by surplus '10' Class Beyer Peacock UK built 2-8-2Tank Engines from the South Maitland Railway.
Another interesting feature of the line is that in its early days it operated 4 former Liverpool and Mersey Railway 0-6-4T locomotives identical to 'Cecil Raikes' from the L&M now preserved in the UK. One Australian loco the 'The Major' has been preserved.