Australian Tank Engines

Tank engines have been around since the earliest days of steam locomotives. The very first tank engine was Novelty, a well tank loco that took part in the Rainhill Trials in 1929.

Well tank locomotives have the tank that holds the water used for steam slung under the locomotive and, while this type of tank locomotive was not uncommon, and some were used here in Australia, the vast majority of tank engines produced over the years have been fitted with side tanks. These side tanks are usually mounted on the running board and are fairly obvious.

All States of Australia, including the Northern Territory, and a number of privately owned railways have used tank locomotives for everything from banking heavy interstate express trains and rushing commuters to and from work on fast suburban trains, to treading light rails with short mixed trains in distant parts of the country and heavy industrial shunting in places such as Newcastle and Port Kembla.

Tank engines played a vital role in developing this country and we bought them from the UK and Europe and we built them here in Australia too. Some were outstanding success stories while others were abject failures but all fulfilled an important role in moving passengers and goods around this vast country.

These days we remember the humble freight locomotives and the big passenger engines but not much thought is given to Australian tank locomotives so here are worth noting.