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88/719 Steam locomotive, full size, No.3265 (original No. P.584), 32 class, made by Beyer, Peacock & Co, Manchester, England, 1901, used by New South Wales Government Railways 1902-1968. Click to enlarge.

Steam locomotive No. 3265

The 32 class steam locomotive was probably the most successful and enduring steam locomotive in Australia. Designed by William Thow, Locomotive Superintendent of the New South Wales Railways, in consultation with the builder, Beyer, Peacock & Company of Manchester, England, the first locomotive of the class entered service on 10th February 1892. The "English express locomotives", as they became known, soon developed a reputation for versatility and reliability and they continued in use until …


Object No.


Object Statement

Steam locomotive, full size, No.3265 (original No. P.584), 32 class, made by Beyer, Peacock & Co, Manchester, England, 1901, used by New South Wales Government Railways 1902-1968

Physical Description

"P" class locomotive and parts.

Locomotive 3265 is a classic "English express" locomotive. With such a long service life of 66 years and the fitting of numerous modifications and overhauls it is surprising the locomotive is in such an original condition. The locomotive still has its original frame and the cab is stamped with its builder's number.

The following is a description of its appearance when it began service in 1902. This is followed by a list of the original specifications as built and a description of the main modifications made to the 32 class locomotives as a whole.

The locomotive used saturated steam which was later superheated to increase its efficiency. It had a short smoke box of 3 feet ¼ inch which was surmounted with a gracefully flared cast chimney, for which Beyer, Peacock were famous. The boiler was plain with three bands ahead of a Belpaire fire box. Handrails were the only distraction along the sides. Pitched at 7 feet 8 inches above the rail level, the boiler had a slight taper from the firebox to the smoke box. A typical English dome sat astride the second boiler ring, immediately above the leading driving wheel while Ramsbottom safety valves were provided on the top of the firebox. Two whistles protruded through the cab roof. William Thow's involvement in the design was immediately recognisable in the enclosed cab. This was fitted with a porthole cab window which was Thow's trademark. A large cast sandbox sat on each of the footplates which descended in graceful curves to the front buffer and rear drawbar beams.

The cab controls were simple with a single air-brake valve, short regulator handle and a four-spoke reversing wheel. Injectors were mounted on the boiler back plate and discharged into a long pipe which ran through the water space to the front of the boiler, thereby dispensing with the clack valves, a common feature of locomotive boilers.

The 32 class engines were the first on the New South Wales system to be built new with Belpaire fireboxes and Allan straight-link motion instead of the almost universal Stephenson valve gear. Disc wheels on the front bogie were also a new idea.

Original Specifications as built

Wheel arrangement: 4-6-0
Cylinders: 20 inch x 26 inch (508 x 660 mm)
Steam pressure: 160 psi (1 102 kPa)
Tractive effort: 22 200 lb (98745 N)
Wheels (diameter)
Leading 39 inches (990 mm)
Driving 60 inches (1 524 mm)
Tender 37 inches (939 mm)
Valve gear: Allen
Valves: slide, Richardson balanced
Frame: plate
Reverse gear: screw
Number of fire tubes & diameter: 250, 1 7/8 inch (47.6 mm)
Firebox length: 8 ft (2 438 mm)
Grate area: 28 sq.ftt (2.57 sq m)
Heating surface:
Firebox: 130 sq ft (11.96 sq m)
Total: 1916 sq ft (176.27 sq m)
Overall length: 60 ft 4 1/8 inches (18 392 mm)
Brake system: Westinghouse
Maximum axle load: 14 tons 13 cwt (14 884 kg)
Total engine: 58 tons 15 cwt (59 692 kg)
Tender: 41 tons 10 cwt (42 165 kg)
Total, engine & tender: 100 tons 5 cwt (101 854 kg)
Coal: 6 tons (6 096 kg)
Water: 3 650 gals (16 425 litres)

Main modifications

The Klinger water gauge glasses were removed from the top of the boiler backplate to their final position in front of the driver. The main steam pipes in the smoke box, made of copper, were replaced with cast-iron ones on locomotives from 1918. Electric headlights and cab lights were fitted to the locomotives from 1922 while canvas weather shields were progressively fitted to the back of the cab roof and windows from 1923. Also from 1923, the Westinghouse air brake's original E-type compressor was replaced with a B-type one. The engine was originally fitted with a large whistle on the right hand side for use in fogs and emergencies and a small whistle on the left hand side for use around stations and goods yards. This changed from 1924 when chime whistles were gradually fitted to the locomotives. From 1928 additional helical springs were fitted to the front bogie and bogie tenders were fitted with rear ladders. The original short laminated springs, beneath the trailing couple wheels, were replaced with longer laminated ones and the coal tender capacity increased in 1931. The locomotive was given an AM-type superheater made by the Superheater Co. on 30 June 1933. From 1940 the original Ramsbottom safety valves were replaced with Ashton pop valves while blackout screens were attached to the front and side cab windows of locomotives from March 1942 until the end of World War II. Handrails and front buffer beam steps were fitted from 1944. Whereas many of this class of locomotive were fitted with longer frames, this locomotive has the original ones.

Locomotive 3265 was finished in a striking livery of maroon and black with red lining and was given the nameplate Hunter secured to a bracket mounted on the sandbox on either side of the engine.



4.245 m


81282 kg



Locomotive 3265 was built in 1901 by Beyer, Peacock & Co. of Manchester, England, to the modified design of the Locomotive Superintendent of the New South Wales Government Railways, William Thow. Thow was sent to England and once Beyer, Peacock had won the tender he teamed with J. Scouler, an Ex-chief Draughtsman from the South Australian Railways and later employee of Beyer, Peacock, to finalise the design. The result was one of the most outstanding classes in New South Wales rail history. It is said to have derived from Thow's South Australian K class, the first six-coupled locomotive to be designed by him.

The 32 class locomotives became one of the most successful and versatile locomotives on the New South Wales rail system and their numbers were added to repeatedly over the next 19 years until a total of 191 were built. Of these, 106 were built by Beyer, Peacock & Co of Manchester; 20 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, USA; 45 by the Clyde Engineering Company, NSW; and 20 at the Eveleigh Workshops of the New South Wales Government Railways. The last engine was delivered on 20 December 1911.

Beyer, Peacock delivered their first batch of the locomotives which entered service between February 1892 and July 1893. They had the builder's numbers 3400-3449, (3201-3250) and became known as the "Manchester Engines". Despite some early mechanical difficulties, they quickly proved themselves to the local railway authorities and a second order for 20 engines, later increased to 25, was let to the same company and began service from October 1901 through to April 1902. These were numbered 574 to 598 (3251-3275), and had the builder's Nos. 4211-4230. Some modifications were made to the original design, including the replacement of the six-wheel tender with a bogie type and alterations to the fuel capacity and the heating surface of the boiler. Of this second batch, what was later to become Locomotive 3265 was constructed as Builder's No. 4221.

Locomotive 3265 was completed in 1901 by Beyer, Peacock and commenced its 66 years of service on 6 January 1902 as number P.584. On 30 June 1933 the locomotive was superheated. Modifications such as these enabled the locomotives to remain reliable and versatile in service. Being good steamers, they were popular with crews and capable of a good turn of speed when required to haul passenger trains.



Locomotives of the 32 class operated from 1892 until 1971 hauling passenger, mail and goods trains throughout the state. The first 50 of the locomotives, introduced between 1892 and 1893, were an almost immediate success and had far fewer and less serious troubles than most classes when they first entered service. They were given the class designation P class under the 1889 classification, ("P" possibly standing for 'passenger'), but later renumbered in 1924 as the 32 class with individual locomotives numbered 3201 to 3391.

Initially the locomotives were assigned to the Southern and Northern mails and expresses. Following the strengthening of the Wagga Wagga viaduct in 1901, they were able to work over the full length of the line from Sydney to Albury hauling the "glamour" trains, such as the Melbourne Express. The expresses covered the distance of 386 miles (621 km) in 12 hours 35 minutes including 14 stops, at an average speed of 34.2 mph (55.04 km/h). Due to the light track on the New South Wales system, the class was restricted to a maximum speed of 40 mph (64 km/h) until 1905, after which time this restriction was gradually relaxed. These locomotives hauled The Fish from Sydney to Penrith in 46 minutes at speeds of 65 mph (105 km/h). The highest speed recorded for the class was in 1939 when Locomotive 3283 travelling west with seven carriages attained a speed of 73 mph (117 km/h) at Doonside.

By the time of Federation locomotives of the 32 class were the epitome of grace and speed. They were the obvious choice to haul the Royal Train in New South Wales for the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York in May and June 1901 for the opening of Federal parliament in Melbourne. The next time Royal trains were required was in 1920 for the world tour of the Prince of Wales, later to become (briefly) King Edward VIII. This proved to be one of the most extensive and diverse rail itineraries used on a Royal Tour and again the 32 class were used, but this time as the support trains, as the 35 class were by then the supreme steam power.

By the mid-1930s the larger 36 class locomotives went into service on the glamour trains but the 32 class were regularly rostered for the all-stations run, especially to Gosford and were used right up to until electrification there in 1960. Even in 1958 when the Commissioner for Railways made regular inspection tours around the State in a special three-car train, which comprised conference, sleeping and cooking facilities, the motive power was a 32 class locomotive (3291). It was also a 32 class engine (3246) that hauled the last regular steam-hauled passenger train on the New South Wales Government Railways on 27 July 1971. This service operated between the Broadmeadow Loco Depot and Newcastle for depot employees.

Locomotive 3265 was commissioned on the 6th of January 1902 as P class locomotive No. 584 under the 1889 classification system. Renumbered 3265 in 1924, it was in continuous service until 1968, interrupted only by workshop overhauls and modifications. The most famous duty for 3265 was during the mid-1930s when, in its splendid maroon and black livery and proudly displaying its Hunter nameplates, it hauled the Newcastle Businessmen's Express to and from Sydney. The Locomotive was presented with its name plate Hunter on 6th July 1933. Other named 32 class trains of the 1930's included the Hawkesbury on 3277, Parramatta on 3298 and Wyong on 3201. As well as names, some of the class were given a special livery. The Northern and Western 32 class expresses were black with a star on the smoke box, four working the Newcastle express had maroon and black, including 3265, while those on the Illawarra line were "pastoral" green. By the late 1930s however green became the standard livery for all engines. From January 1938 it was decided to remove the nameplates from locomotives as it became difficult to keep the named engines in the required area. However in 1953, name plates were placed on the buffer beams of engines working the ten daylight expresses.

By 1940 and the immediate post-war period Locomotive 3265 was based at Eveleigh and later Enfield depots. By 1948 it commenced an almost 20-year assignment to country depots including Junee (in 1964), Cowra, Broadmeadow and Bathurst.

Locomotive 3265 was overhauled and modified while in continuous service until it was withdrawn in January 1968 after travelling 2,965,840 km. In that year, 3265 was one of three steam locomotives (the other engines were 1243 and 3830), set aside for preservation by the New South Wales Government Railways at the request of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. The engine was stored from 1968 until 1988 at the NSW Rail Transport Museum, initially at Enfield and from the early 1970s at Thirlmere. After that it was transferred to the Eveleigh Railway Workshops where the Museum had secured more suitable storage in the Large Erecting Shop.

Following its award-winning collaboration with steam train company 3801 Limited to restore Locomotive 3830 between 1992 and1997 and encouraged by a resurgence of interest in the railway heritage of the Eveleigh site, the Museum took on the challenge of restoring 3265 to achieve the dual objectives of an impressive static exhibit and an operational engine hauling special steam tours.

Beginning in 1998 in the Eveleigh workshop the project drews on the talents and energies of the same dedicated and experienced volunteer team involved in the restoration of 3830, under the supervision of Museum staff. This team comprised approximately 12 volunteers most of whom are in their seventies. Locomotive 3265 was substantially modified over its service life and it would have been impractical to attempt to rebuild it to its original appearance. This would require unresolvable conjecture and it would result in the necessary loss of existing fabric. A suitable compromise was determined to return the locomotive to its configuration in the peak of its service life, the mid 1930s, when 3265 hauled express trains such as the Newcastle Express. Work commenced in January 1998 and an inspection revealed that the boiler and firebox would need extensive repairs. Furthermore, it was apparent that the locomotive had been in service well beyond its life expectancy. Nevertheless, cost estimates were prepared and the fund raising required to rebuild the locomotive was considered achievable.

In June 1998, the Museum applied for funding from the Federation Cultural and Heritage Projects Program to assist in the restoration of 3265 but the application was not successful. However, the Museum was determined to capitalise on the indispensable resource of volunteer expertise that played such as key role in the restoration of 3830. While disappointing, the temporary funding setback did not discourage the volunteer team who in characteristic manner, responded by offering their unconditional commitment to the new project.

There was still a substantial amount of labour-intensive work, especially in stripping and rebuilding the frame, which could be undertaken by the volunteers in the workshop at Eveleigh. In the meantime, the project budget was reassessed in terms of isolating and minimising the large expense elements, including the boiler/firebox assembly and the tender body. Several companies that had been involved in the rebuilding of 3830 stepped forward to offer their contract services or other forms of assistance for 3265. The Hunter Valley Training Company at Maitland submitted a competitive quote for rebuilding the tender body and Lovells Springs once again very generously offered to replace all the leaf and coil springs at no cost. Precision Scale Models of Melbourne confirmed their continuing sponsorship with the donation of two more fine scale HO gauge models of 38 class locomotives to be used to raise funds and Ross Simpson Engineering reconditioned all the valves at no cost.

In early 1999, the Museum established a fund raising appeal that in the years to follow attracted broad interest and support from enthusiasts and the general public alike. In the workshop, disassembly had reached the stage where heavy crane lifts were necessary to remove the boiler and smoke box off the frame. With the frame now fully exposed and the running gear stripped down, it became apparent just how hard the engine had been worked in its final years of service. Almost every wearing surface was worn down to well beyond tolerance. Many parts were bent, broken or incorrectly fitted. The labourious process of repairing the frame and running gear continued over the next two years. The skills and resourcefulness of the volunteers were employed to full effect to contain costs and minimise contract work, although some jobs such as re-profiling the driving wheels required specialised machinery. From the leading bogie to the draw box, every component was reconditioned and rebuilt and in the process, almost every rivet was replaced.

The restoration was completed in 2009, the work included the reconstruction of the coal tender, design and installation of a completely new boiler, rebuild of the riveted engine frame and cab fit-out. Ross Goodman, the Museum's Project Manager oversaw the rebuild with his team of volunteers whose engineering skills as well as their knowledge and expertise in locomotive technology were invaluable to the overall success of the project. From boiler engineer, master boilermaker, fitter/machinists, welders, to the general maintenance labourers, the volunteers' commitment to the project and ability to work collaboratively as a team is to be commended.

The locomotive was successfully trialled in July 2009 and painted at the United Group in Chullora in its distinctive maroon and black livery.


Credit Line

Purchased 1988

Acquisition Date

28 September 1988

Cite this Object


Steam locomotive No. 3265 2022, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 25 June 2022, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Steam locomotive No. 3265 |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=25 June 2022 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}