Fridge Magnet – Steam Locomotive F13 Peveril

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This Fridge Magnet depicts steam locomotive F13 Peveril, from a painting by well-known artist Paul Johnson of Christchurch New Zealand.

The New Zealand F class was the first important class of steam locomotive built to operate on New Zealand’s railway network after the national gauge of 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) was adopted. The first locomotives built for the new gauge railways were two E class double Fairlies for the Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway Company. The F class was the first class ordered by the central government, and between 1872 and 1888, a total of eighty-eight members of the class were constructed.

The F class was an 0-6-0ST. They operated essentially everywhere on New Zealand’s railway network doing a variety of jobs. F class locomotives could haul light passenger trains at speeds up to 70 km/h (43 mph) or pull up to 800 tonnes (790 long tons; 880 short tons) of freight on flat trackage. Originally the design was meant for use on the Southland Railways, and three prototypes were built by Neilsons of Glasgow in 1872; among these was what would become F 13, now preserved at the Ferrymead Railway in Christchurch.

The engines were originally given names from the works of Sir Walter Scott by order of a Government official. Originally some had New Zealand names; for example F 36 (later F 13) was originally named Clutha, and later renamed Edie Ochiltree.

The F class had originally been conceived as a mainline mixed-traffic tank locomotive, and their capabilities exceeded the expectation of even Charles Rous-Marten, who wrote of having observed them in all manner of duties while in New Zealand. As time went on and lines were extended, it became clear that the F class could no longer keep running as it did on the mainline, and so larger engines were introduced, thus pushing the F class to branchline and shunting duties.

The class is unique in that it has been used on every line in New Zealand to be operated by the New Zealand Railways, and indeed, some operated by the Public Works Department. Several were also owned by the Westport Harbour Board, whose assets were later acquired by the NZR. In all, a total of 88 were acquired by the Government and by various private railways, notably the Westport Harbour Board and the Thames Valley & Rotorua Railway (TVRR).

By the 1940s, the F class were in retreat with the largest concentrations being on Christchurch, Invercargill, and Greymouth, where they were still used for shunting duties. The Christchurch locomotives were retained to shunt the Lyttelton wharves (their short wheel-base gave them a greater operational flexibility), while the Invercargill locomotives were retained as shunters and also to shunt a dairy factory siding at Edendale; here, a verandah beside the siding limited clearances and the F class were the only locomotives able to negotiate this siding without any trouble.

From this period onwards, many of the locomotives were replaced with the arrival of the DS class 0-6-0DM diesel locomotives. The Invercargill locomotives were gone by the end of the 1950s, as were the two Greymouth examples, F 5 and F 277, which were dumped at Omoto, 2 km from Greymouth, along with other withdrawn locomotives and wagons in an attempt to control erosion of the railway embankment at Omoto by the Grey River.

The last allocation for the F class was at Lyttelton, where their short wheelbase allowed them to run over the sharp curves on the wharves. The last two in service, F 13 and F 163, were withdrawn in 1963. Prior to this, both locomotives were overhauled and repainted in an approximation of the green livery used in the 1870s and named Peveril (F 13) and Ivanhoe (F 163) respectively. After taking part in the NZR centenary celebrations at the Christchurch Railway Station in 1963, both were placed in the Arthur’s Pass locomotive shed with W 192 for safekeeping. In 1968, NZR donated F 13 to the NZR&LS Canterbury Branch for their Ferrymead Railway, and it was steamed from Arthur’s Pass to Christchurch with a special excursion train.