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Baldwin Loco Works official photo, Wb 297, 1898

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Wb 299


Wb 299 was on-shipped to Westport, South Island in the company of sister locomotive Wb 300. Both were put into stock on 4 March 1899 1 , Wb 299 entering service on 26 May, three months after Wb 300 2 . The two locomotives were welcome relief for the Westport Loco Roster, being additional to the two C class 0-4-2T, three F class 0-6-0ST and two Fa class 0-6-2T locomotives on the Section.

Wb locomotive bunker capacity of 25 cwt (1¼ ton) was not such an issue on the Westport Section, short hauls being the order of the day, and coal was in abundant supply.

Wb 299 at Granity station with short passenger train, staff and guests lined up for photograph.

Wb 299, Granity circa 1905. PHOTO: NZR Collection E-517.

Westport Section

Wb 299 typically worked coal traffic from the State and private mines north of Westport to the port. Coal from the Westport Coal Company was brought down the Denniston Incline to Conns Creek, a short 1¾ mile branch connecting with the Seddonville Branch at Waimangaroa. Other mines were located at Seddonville, Mokihinui Mine, Charming Creek (Ngakawau), Granity and Cascade in the Buller Gorge. Engine loads on the Westport Section were stated as 'empty' or 'loads', relating to the predominant cloa traffic, typically hauled in Q-class hopper wagons. 65 loads and brake van could hauled from Waimangaroa to Westport by the Wb class, about 700 tons 3 .

Wb 299 survives scrapping

Wb 299 had a last-minute repreive in the late 1920's, receiving a new design of boiler from sister locomotive Wb 291 (to blueprint y7508 dated 16 May 1924). The boiler pressure of 200 psi was a marked improvement over the previous pressure of 170 psi. New boilers and continued isolation of the Westport Section extended the service life of four of the Westport Wb class: 292, 298, 299 and 300. The Westport Section was connected to the remainder of the South Island system in 1942 / 1943 with the opening of the Buller Gorge.

Full A-grade overhauls had been carried out at Westport Shops, with some boilers shipped to Hutt Workshops, Wellington to lessen overhaul duration. Post-1943 the Wb class were sent to Hillside Workshops, Dunedin, for A-grade overhaul.

Service and decline

Original boilered Ww class locomotives 680, 684 and 683 were transfered to the Westport Section in 1929 and 1930, working alongside the Wb class. Classmates 291 and 294, the latter never having been reboilered, were withdrawn from service in 1931 and 1935 respectively. Once the Buller Gorge was opened further Ww class were allocated to Westport, initially working alongside the Wb class, but would eventually displace the class to secondary, shunting and standby duties. In the early 1950s runs to Ngakawau and Conns Creek were still regularly worked by the Wb class, but by 1955 the remaining four had been largely relegated to shunting in the Westport yard.


Wb 298 and 300 were withdrawn from service in 1955. 299 and 292 were stopped in late 1956, and withdrawn in January 1957.

Wb dumping documentation

Documentation detailing how Wb 299 came to be dumped at Seddonville, 30 miles north of Westport, in January 1960.

Dumping of Wb 292 and Wb 299

Illustration of dump site, actual moment Wb 299 was toppled into Coal Creek caught on film.


1. National Archives R15 acc W1722. Loco ledger 63 folio 8, Westport Section stock.

2. Lloyd, W.G., (1974). "Register of New Zealand Railways Steam Locomotives, 1863-1971"NZRLS (Otago Branch), Dunedin, New Zealand.

3. Meyer, R.J. (1989). Coaling from the Clouds 2nd Edition. The New Zealand Railway and Locomotive Society Incorporated, Wellington, New Zealand.