NZR L class

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NZR L class
Type and origin
Builder Avonside
Build date 1877
Total produced 10
 • Whyte 2-4-0T
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
Driver dia. 36 in (0.914 m)
Length 24 ft 12 in (7.328 m)
Adhesive weight 13.2 long tons (13.4 tonnes; 14.8 short tons)
Loco weight 18.5 long tons (18.8 tonnes; 20.7 short tons)
Fuel type Coal
 • Firegrate area
9.2 sq ft (0.85 m2)
Boiler pressure 130 lbf/in2 (896 kPa)
Heating surface 486 sq ft (45.2 m2)
Cylinders Two, outside
Cylinder size 10.5 in × 18 in (267 mm × 457 mm)
Performance figures
Tractive effort 4,893 lbf (21.77 kN)
Operators NZR

The NZR L class were a series of ten small tank engines built in England during the early years of railway development in New Zealand.

Origin and design[edit]

The L class were designed to provide improved performance over the successful F class on faster passenger services, and were built by the Avonside Engine Co.. All entered service in 1878 and were used on important passenger trains on the Auckland and Wellington Sections.[1] Although the G class, designed with a similar purpose in mind suffered from poor adhesion, the L was more successful in terms of performance. They were used intensively and provided solid service, although they were not used on passenger services for long due to their small size.

Later modifications[edit]

NZR began an intensive programme of rebuilding older tank locomotives to attempt to extract improved performance. Parts from seven locomotives were used in this programme, being initially fitted with a leading bogie turning them into La Class 4-4-0T's then later with larger coal bunkers to 4-4-2T's. The remaining three unmodified locomotives were sold to the Public Works Department (PWD) in the early 1900s.

Sales and disposals[edit]

While all of the rebuilt L class had been officially withdrawn by 1939, the three unmodified locomotives sold to the PWD ironically went on to have much longer careers. No. 507 (formerly 207 in NZR service) was sold to the Taranaki Harbour Board in 1931, and numbers 508 and 509 (formerly 208 and 219) were sold to Wilson's Portland Cement, an industrial plant south of Whangarei. All three ended up working at Portland until the 1970s, when they were around 95 years old. They were then all donated for preservation where all three remain operational.[2]

Preserved locomotives[edit]

Three L Class locomotives have been preserved:




  • Heath, Eric; Stott, Bob (1993). Classic Steam Locomotives of New Zealand. Grantham House. ISBN 1-86934-036-1. 
  • W.G.Lloyd (2002), Register of New Zealand Railways Steam Locomotives 1863 - 1971, Otago Railway & Locomotive Society/Triple M Publications
  • S.Millar (2011), The NZR Steam Locomotive, New Zealand Railway & Locomotive Society
  • W.W.Stewart (1970), When Steam Was King, REED