R 766

Converted to standard gauge

 

R 766 stabled outside Newport Workshops in 1996.

At that stage it wore attractive Canadian red livery.

Builder

North British Locomotive Co, Glasgow

Builder’s Number & Year

27056 of 1951

Designer

Victorian Railways

Wheel Arrangement

4-6-4  “Hudson”

Entered Service

1 October 1952

Withdrawn from Service

1 April 1968

R 761 was commissioned in 1952 as one of 70 members of the Victorian Railway's R-class 4-6-4 "Hudson" main line passenger locomotives.  These locomotives were designed by Victorian Railways and were urgently required by the post World War 2 period, however construction was delayed by competing priorities.  Eventually construction was outsourced to the North British Locomotive Company, Glasgow but, as with so many post-war steam locomotives orders, delivery ultimately came years after the demand had required.  The R-class superseded the A2-class 4-6-0 locomotives on fast passenger turns however the simultaneous arrival of first-generation diesels reduced their usefulness and the R-class was destined for relatively short lives and low mileages.

R 766 was among the last of the class in traffic when withdrawn in 1968, many sisters having already been scraped in prior years.  It was stored at Newport Workshops for some years before being restored to operation for enthusiast railtour duties.  I understand it is owned by "R766 Incorporated".  During the 1990’s this locomotive was maintained alongside the Steamrail Victoria loco fleet at Newport Workshops and wore an attractive (but non-original) Canadian Red livery.

R 766 was later leased to West Coast Railway for operation on the 'Westcoaster' trains between Melbourne and Warrnambool (together with R 711) and received the name “City of Bendigo”.  It was planned at this stage to rebuild and modernise R 766 along the same lines as R 711.

In May 2005 came the interesting news that R 766 had been leased to the Hunter Valley Railway Trust for movement to Branxton, NSW and conversion to standard gauge.  This work has apparently been largely completed, featuring a few modifications such as the replacement of the leading bogie spoked wheel centres with those of the disc variety.  Photographs from Branxton in November 2014 showed the locomotive generally complete and apparently being fettled and painted in preparation for service.

To my knowledge, firm plans for R 766 operations after overhaul are yet to be announced.  The progressive expansion of standard gauge across Australia provides the opportunity for it to visit all of the major cities and to enjoy a broad sphere of operation.

I would greatly appreciate contributions of news or recent photos for R 766 for addition to this page.

Wikipedia provides further information about the Victorian Railways R-class locomotives.

 

References

a

"A brief history of Preserved Rolling Stock of Victoria" by Norm Bray, Peter J Vincent and Daryl M Gregory.

Published by Brief History Books, PO Box 437, Sunbury, Vic 3429.

b

ARHS (Victorian Division) 'North Williamstown Railway Museum', Third Edition 1968,

revised 1977, reprinted 1980.

c

"Locomotives of Australia - 1985 to 2010" (Fifth Edition), by Leon Oberg,

published 2010 by Rosenberg Publishing Pty Ltd.

d

Newsrail” magazine of February 2015 (Volume 43 – Issue 2)

Published by the Australian Railway Historical Society, Victorian Division Inc.

 

Page updated:  9 March 2015

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