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Baldwin Loco Works official photo, Wb 297, 1898

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Hugh McCracken - webmaster.

photo of Hugh McCracken

Hugh McCracken.

Webmaster of www.baldwin-steam.org.nz and active protagonist for the salvage and preservation of Baldwin steam locomotives Wb 292, Wb 299 and Wd 356. Born in 1967 at Masterton, New Zealand. Crewed mainline steam excursions with duties extending from mundane fuelling and lubrication with occasional firing turns. Track construction is another skill developed out of interest and necessity.

Email address: webmaster@baldwin-steam.org.nz

Wb enthusiast

"I first visited the Wb dump site at Seddonville in the mid 1980's. The site was inaccessible by road and the nearby railway line had been dismantled. 292 and 299 were in a sorry state, buried with silt, platework corroding away - Nature had taken over." "I clambered over the wrecks, took some photographs and left wondering what their fate might be..."

"I made a few enquiries as to how to salvage the locomotives, finding prices to be approachable. One long week in July 1989 Wb 292 and 299 were hauled out of their resting place of thirty years - an unforgettable week. That was the start of the job."

"The twelve Wb class Baldwin locomotives had an interesting history. Four of the class: 292, 298, 299 and 300 were still operating into the mid-1950's - somewhat of a West Coast anacronism. They hauled 600 ton unbraked coal trains from the foot of the Denniston Incline to the river port at Westport. Each loco was distinctive - as one would expect after a half-century of service. Photographs from the 1950's were a great source of encouragement and interest. Recently I caught up with over a dozen drivers and firemen who worked the Wb class out of Westport. It was truly inspirational to hear first hand how the locomotives performed and what work they did. This brought to life records and photographs that one normally associates with locomotive histories."