J & A Brown No.3

Stored for the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum


A picture containing grass, sky, outdoor, train

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Keith Jones kindly permitted me to photograph the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum collection during a visit on 24 January 2004.

This view shows J & A Brown No.3 stored in black-oil at Dorrigo; unfortunately the wheels are obscured in this view.


Kitson & Company Ltd, Leeds

Builder’s Number & Year

2236 of 1878

Wheel Arrangement



This practical and functional 0-6-0ST locomotive is a wonderful example of contemporary Victorian freight locomotive design. Inside cylinder 0-6-0ST tender locomotives were favoured for short-haul freight work, with the entire weight of locomotive, fuel and water available for traction, while the 0-6-0 tender design was favoured for longer distance freight work, the tender providing additional fuel and water capacity for greater range although the tender’s mass reduced net haulage capacity. Such locomotives were produced in great number for use in Britain & internationally.

In this context, Brown required additional motive power for the private railway linking collieries at Minmi to loading staiths on the Hunter River at Hexham. The route to Minmi was a short, flat and straight trip of several kilometres across the Hexham swap, this route pre-dating the later extension across the Sugarloaf Range to Pelaw Main and Richmond Main collieries. Brown observed the NSWGR fleet of steam locomotives in freight haulage including 0-6-0 tender locomotives together with the shorted-range 0-6-0ST locos. His interest fell on government loco 20N (Kitson b/n 1620 of 1870) as ideal, but it wasn’t available for purchase and so Kitson & Co were contracted to build a copy – which became this loco, J & A Brown No.3. In time the prototype 20N also became available for sale and in 1891 Brown snapped it up, becoming J & A Brown No.4.

The two 0-6-0ST locos were superior to Brown’s 1856-built 0-4-2T locos No.1 & 2 in short haul duties between Minmi and Hexham. J & A Brown’s loco fleet later expanded to include four ex-Mersey Railway 0-6-4T locos, three chunky Kitson 2-8-2T and thirteen ex-ROD 2-8-0 locos which dominated line work over the Sugarloaf Range route, but the 0-6-0ST locos weren’t well suited to that longer and more demanding route and instead they spent most of their time shunting the coal loading staithes at Hexham. No.3 was withdrawn from this service in 1966 while No.4 lasted a bit longer until 1967, both joining the growing lines of withdrawn J & A Brown steam locomotives slowly rusting away near the Hexham loco shed.

In 1973 Coal & Allied Limited (successors to J & A Brown) called for tenders to dispose of their redundant steam locomotives, although one ROD locomotive was generously donated for local preservation. Enthusiasts scrambled to save as many locos as possible, and fortunately the oldest and most historic remaining locos were saved, including Avonside No.2, Kitson No.3 & No.4, Mersey Tank No.5 and ROD Nos.20 & 24, but unfortunately seven ROD locos were lost to scrap merchants. No.3 was saved for the Hunter Valley Steam Railway & Museum, later becoming the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum collection. It was stored at Rhondda Colliery for some years before being rail hauled to Glenreagh in late 1983 and onwards to Dorrigo around 1986. It has since been stored in the ‘potato siding’ in Dorrigo Station yard in company with other locomotives delivered by rail.

I would appreciate further photographs for this historic loco, at any stage of its working life or preservation.



Preston, R. G. ‘The Richmond Vale Railway’

published by the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum, 1989.


Kramer, J. 'The Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum - an Illustrated Guide',

published by the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum, 1987.


Andrews, B. R. ‘Coal, Railways & Mines – The story of the Railways

and Collieries of J & A Brown’, published by the Iron Horse Press, 2004.

Page updated: 8 September 2021

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