The Y class was an example of the new policy of standard design principles being adopted by the railways of the time. The original pattern locomotive (an 0-6-0 tender engine) was built by Kitson & Co. at Leeds in England in 1885, and was exhibited, along with E426, in 1888 at the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition, held in the Melbourne Exhibition Building. The other 30 locomotives of this type were built by the Phoenix Foundry at Ballarat in 1888-1889. They were given road numbers 383 to 441 (odd numbers only), and the pattern engine 445, 443 having been allotted to an 'Old' R class. They were big locomotives for their time - in fact the largest and most powerful 0-6-0s to run in Australia. The class excelled in their performance and acceptance by crews. They were often seen on suburban passenger trains prior to electrification, finishing their lives as yard shunters. Withdrawal of the Y class began in 1926, and only Nos 108 (originally 412) and 112 (originally 419) survive, the latter of which has been restored to working order. The last in regular service was No. 108 which was withdrawn in 1963 after being a pilot engine at North Melbourne for many years.
Y109 was taken off the register 23 December 1954 and frame and wheels sold to the Brunswick Plaster Mills Pty. Ltd, which rebuilt it into a diesel-mechanical locomotive, for service on a siding which provided access to a gypsum deposit near Nowingi in north-western Victoria.