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Baldwin Loco Works official photo, Wb 297, 1898

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N 453 - Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company No.9

No 9 at Paekakariki circa 1900

Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company No.9 at Paekakariki about 1900. Photo: unknown, W.W. Stewart Collection.


No.9 entered service in 1891 at the Wellington and Manawatu Railway (WMR) Company's Thorndon locomotive depot, Wellington, one of two N class purchased by the company. Sister locomotive No.10 claimed the 1892 world speed record for 3'6" (1068mm) railways with a peak speed of 64.4 miles per hour (103.6km/h) over the Makerua swamp.

Both locomotives were nationalised in the 1908 government purchase of the WMR. No.9 was allocated the NZGR classification of 'N', and road number 453.

N 453 and 454 were transferred to the Wairarapa, and finally allocated to Greymouth after World War I. N 453 was fitted with a new boiler in 1925 but withdrawn from service soon after on 13 November 1926. The Wb-design boiler built to BP y7508 was suitable for N or Wb classes, the new boiler saw further service in Wb 300, finally written off with the locomotive in October 1955. The steam dome cover with prominent top flange was also fitted to Wb 300, making the locomotive instantly recognisable at a distance.


frame of No.9 lying alongside track in deep grass

Frame of No.9 lying alongside Tranz Rail track overgrown with grass. Photo: Taryn Nicolle.

Typical of many locomotive disposal histories in New Zealand, neither locomotive was scrapped, rather broken down into components and used as groynes for river protection works. The frame of N 453 (No.9) was used to protect the Midland Railway formation near the Bealey River bridge, a few kilometres east of Arthurs Pass.

Salvage and Restoration

Alex Maciver and Adam Orchard salvaged the frame of No.9 from Bealey Bridge on 1 March 2003, now located at Steam Scene, MacLeans Island, Christchurch.

frame of No.9 lifted onto truck

Frame of No.9 lifted onto a track for transport to Steam Scene, Christchurch. Photo: Taryn Nicolle.


For further details on the history, slavage and eventual restoration of No.9 refer to - Restoration of Wellington & Manawatu Ry. Co. Locomotive No.9 at: http://wmry.netfirms.com.


1. Palmer, A.N. & Stewart, W.W. (1965). Cavalcade of New Zealand Locomotives 2nd Ed. A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington, New Zealand.