VR C Class Tank Engine

These days when anyone mentions the Victorian Railways C Class most people tend to think diesel while a few may think of the 26 handsome 2-8-0 heavy goods steam locos that began to appear in 1918 but there was another C Class that is all but forgotten these days.

The first six locos that were ultimately to become the first VR C Class were 4-4-0 well tank locos built by Robert Stephenson and Co in 1871 for the Melbourne and Hobson’s Bay United Railway Company for use on passenger and mixed train services.

VR C Class No. 282

In 1878 the government took control of the company and in 1880 an order was placed for six more locos but this time they were built in the colony by Robinson Bros of Melbourne and a further 12 were built by Ballarat’s Phoenix Foundry. In 1889 all 26 locos became the C Class.

The C Class locomotives only carried even numbers in VR service. 42, and even numbers in the 262-310 range.

While most of the VR C Class spent their working lives in and around Melbourne some were modified with extra handrails, running boards and a cowcatcher so that they could be used on light branch lines.

In 1904 13 of the class were scrapped and by 1910 only four of the class remained on the books and No. 294 remained in regular service till early 1916.

Unfortunately none of these rather handsome tank locomotives were preserved.

VR Class No. 284

Technical Details

Gauge: 1600mm (5ft 3in)

Wheel Arrangement: 4-4-0WT

Cylinders: 38×56 cm (15×22 inches)

Boiler pressure: 896 kPA (130 lb)

Coupled wheels: 152 cm (5 feet)

Tractive effort: 38.6 kN (8,580 lb)

Weight: 38.6 tonnes (37.85 tons)

VR C Class No. 300. Some slight digital enhancement was done on this image to bring out some of the detail.

Oberg, L Locomotives of Australia – 1850s ~ 1900s Third Edition 1996, Kangaroo Press

Photos courtesy of the Victorian State Library