NZR J class (1874)

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New Zealand J class
No 118, a J class steam locomotive, 2-6-0 type, altered for shunting at Petone Railway Workshops..jpg
J class steam locomotive, NZR 118, 2-6-0 type. Godber, Albert Percy, 1875-1949: Collection of albums, prints and negatives. Ref: APG-0251-1/2-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.[1]
Power type Steam
Builder Avonside Engine Co. (6),
Neilson & Co. (5),
Robert Stephenson & Co. (5),
Dübs & Co. (4),
Vulcan Foundry (13)
Serial number Avonside 1038–1043;
Dübs 1212–1215;
Neilson 2060–264;
RS 2367–2361;
VF 998–1009, 1076
Build date 1874 (6), 1879 (10), 1883 (12), 1884 (1)
Total produced 33
Configuration 2-6-0
UIC classification 1'C
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
Driver diameter 42 in (1.067 m)
Length 41 ft 0 12 in (12.51 m)
Weight on drivers 17.5 long tons (17.8 t)
Locomotive weight 21.0 long tons (21.3 t)
Tender weight 17.0 long tons (17.3 t)
Fuel type Coal
Fuel capacity 3.0 long tons (3.0 t)
Water capacity 1,150 imperial gallons (5,200 l; 1,380 US gal)
Boiler pressure 130 psi (0.90 MPa)
Firegrate area 12 sq ft (1.1 m2)
Heating surface:
– Total
683 sq ft (63.5 m2)
Cylinders Two, outside
Cylinder size 14 in × 20 in (356 mm × 508 mm)
Tractive effort 9,707 lbf (43.18 kN)
Railroad(s) New Zealand Government Railways
Class J
Withdrawn 1919–1935
Disposition 1 lost at sea during delivery, 4 rebuilt to WA class, remainder dumped

The New Zealand J class were steam locomotives with the wheel arrangement of 2-6-0 that were built in 1874 to operate on the railway network of New Zealand. They should not be confused with the more famous J class of 1939. The original J class was the first class of locomotive in New Zealand to have a tender; all previous classes were tank engines.


The first batch built consisted of six locomotives built by the Avonside Engine Company and they entered service in 1874 in Canterbury. Ten more were built in 1879, with a dozen more from Vulcan Foundry in 1883. However, one was lost at sea while being delivered,[2] and a replacement was built the following year. They spread beyond Canterbury and could also be found working in Auckland, Waikato, and Hawke's Bay. The J class worked well whether it was pulling a long goods train or operating important passenger services in the early days of the Main South Line, but as traffic increased, it was superseded by more powerful locomotives and in 1917-18, four members of the class were converted to 2-6-2 tank engines to perform shunting duties in yards. By 1935, all 32 original J class locomotives had reached the end of their usefulness and were discarded, and none survived to be preserved.

Class Roster[edit]

Key: In service Out of service Auckland Transport service Preserved Overhaul/Repair Scrapped
Builder Builders
14 Vulcan Foundry 1076 17-8-1885 21-8-1933
15 Vulcan Foundry 1000 3-12-1883 3-1935 Dumped at Oamaru.
26 Vulcan Foundry 999 4-12-1883 24-1-1930
59 Vulcan Foundry 1002 12-1-1884 10-1933
61 Vulcan Foundry 1004 10-1-1884 6-6-1927 Dumped at Branxholme.
70 Vulcan Foundry 1007 29-2-1884 15-1-1929
81 Avonside Engine Company 1038 31-5-1875 22-8-1933
82 Avonside Engine Company 1040 31-8-1875 9-3-1929 Dumped at Oamaru.
83 Avonside Engine Company 1039 19-6-1875 1-1935 Dumped at Oamaru.
84 Avonside Engine Company 1042 2-3-1876 11-3-1931
85 Avonside Engine Company 1041 6-3-1876 18-3-1930
86 Avonside Engine Company 1043 1-3-1876 31-3-1927
115 Neilson and Company 2460 8-10-1880 14-12-1932
116 Neilson and Company 2461 29-7-1880 4-1934 Dumped at Oamaru.
117 Neilson and Company 2462 9-7-1880 7-1934 Dumped at Oamaru.
118 Neilson and Company 2643 26-7-1880 24-11-1932
119 Neilson and Company 2464 23-6-1880 10-1935
120 Stephenson 2367 28-6-1880 10-1935 Converted to Wa class tank engine, 9-1917 at Hillside. Dumped at Oamaru.
121 Stephenson 2368 28-6-1880 10-1935 Dumped at Oamaru.
122 Stephenson 2369 14-6-1880 3-1934
123 Stephenson 2370 18-8-1880 9-1935
124 Stephenson 2371 10-8-1880 24-11-1932 Converted to Wa class tank engine, 11-1918 at Newmarket.
234 Dübs and Company 1212 18-9-1879 21-11-1933 Converted to Wa class tank engine, 11-1918 at Petone.

Surviving relics[edit]

Although none were preserved, relics of J class locomotives can still be seen to this day at sites where the New Zealand Railways Department dumped withdrawn equipment. A locomotive dump at Oamaru had five J class engines dumped there, Js 15, 82, 83, 116, and 117, although these locomotives have since been sucked out to sea, destroyed by the waves or removed from the seawall py protection works carried out by ONTRACK 2008—2009. This dump was also the location of WA 120, which was one of the J's rebuilt as tank engines. Elsewhere, J 61 was dumped cylinderless at Branxholme; two J class boilers and tenders still exist at the Omoto Locomotive Dump site; and a J class locomotive is known to have been dumped along the Midland Line between Cass and Arthur's Pass, and the remains of which are believed to have been located scattered in a number of locations along the line. Currently the remnants of the Oamaru foreshore J's are stored at Oamaru Steam & Rail, with some parts having been disseminated elsewhere. It is also possible for another J to be recovered and restored to full working order, and although there have long been hopes for this to occur amongst the railfan community, so far no-one has undertaken such an endeavour. Until recently a chassis and cylinders and boiler was recovered by Tony Bacherlor and donated to Feilding steam rail for restoation.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Hudson,, Mike; Atkins, Philip (September 2007). "Locos lost at sea, the all-time definitive record". The Railway Magazine (IPC Media) 153 (1277): pp.14–19. ISSN 0033-8923. 
  • Heath, Eric, and Stott, Bob; Classic Steam Locomotives Of New Zealand, Grantham House, 1993
  • Garner, John. "New Zealand Railways Class J". Retrieved 2009-05-03.