Locomotive No. 1

Object: Locomotive No. 1 (object 7949)

Manufacturer: Robert Stephenson & Co.

Place: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England

Date of Creation: 1854

Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia

EMu user since 2002

Locomotive No. 1Locomotive No.1 hauled the first passenger train in New South  Wales between Sydney and Parramatta in 1855. It is one of the most significant objects in the Museum’s collection relating to the history of New South Wales and has been in the Museum’s possession for well over a century. Designed and built by Robert Stephenson & Co. of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, Locomotive No.1 is a rare survivor of an early 1850s McConnell-designed goods express locomotive and is the only known example of its type in the world.

The establishment of a railway in New South Wales commenced in 1846 when the privately owned Sydney Railway company was formed to build a line between Sydney and Parramatta. Construction commenced in 1851 but labour shortages and internal debates made progress slow. The Company faced innumerable problems due to the high cost of constructing the railway and in September 1855 the NSW Government assumed responsibility for the line’s operation. Locomotive No.1 arrived by ship with three other locomotives in January 1855 and on 24 May, Queen Victoria’s birthday, No.1 hauled the first passenger train from Sydney Station to Long Cove viaduct. The line was officially opened on 26 September using Locomotive No. 3 as No. 1 was out of service that day.

The line of 14 miles took 50 minutes with four intermediate stations between Sydney and Parramatta at Newtown, Ashfield, Burwood and Homebush. On the first day a total of 3,554 passengers were carried and the fares to Parramatta were 4, 3 and 2 shillings respectively for 1st, 2nd and 3rd class. The event attracted crowds of people dressed in their finery eager to be the first passengers.

Locomotive No. 1

From 1857 Locomotive No.1 was mainly used for hauling goods and passengers between Sydney, Campbelltown, Richmond and Penrith. It was withdrawn from service in 1877 having travelled 155,667 miles (250,468 km) and for some years languished in “Rotten Row”, an area at the Railway Workshops at Eveleigh where old engines awaited reconstruction or final condemnation. No. 1 was subsequently refitted and presented to the Museum on 8 May 1884. In the late 1970s an extensive restoration and conservation program stripped down, cleaned and polished each part to reveal the individually stamped numbers and it was found conclusively that the majority of parts were original with the remainder taken from Locomotives 2, 3 and 4.

No.1 Locomotive’s six wheel tender appears to have been withdrawn from service soon after 1878. It was restored in 1955 for the Centenary celebrations of NSW Railways and was presented to the Museum for display with No.1 Locomotive. Since 1988 the locomotive and tender have been displayed with 1st, 2nd and 3rd class carriages of the day in a permanent exhibition in the Museum.


Acknowledgements: Gift of the Commissioner for Railways, Sydney, 1884
Collection: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney
Photographers: Jean-François Lanzarone, Greg Piper