Old loco steams back to Boyanup

Callum HunterSouth Western Times
H18 ready to be loaded.
Camera IconH18 ready to be loaded. Credit: Supplied

One of Boyanup’s oldest surviving residents will return home today and be officially welcomed at the South West Rail and Heritage Centre’s open day on Sunday.

H18 is a six-wheel tank steam locomotive built in Glasgow by Neilson and Co in 1887 which arrived in the South West via ship the following year to work on the Bunbury-Boyanup railway.

With the railway not yet ready, the engine was sold and used as a mail hauler between Albany and Beverley before eventually starting work on the Bunbury-Boyanup line in 1891.

According to Rail Heritage WA secretary Ian Studham, the locomotive had been set aside for restoration since the early 1960s.

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“It finished its time and service shunting at the Bunbury jetty, working on the smaller jobs the smaller locos couldn’t do,” he said.

“It was set aside and sat quite derelict and unloved in Bunbury for some time, so the guys from our group back then organised for it to be set aside from the scrapping list.

“It was eventually brought up to Bassendean and added to the collection when they were putting the museum together.”

One of the oldest surviving steam locomotives in the State, H18 was given a minor make over before it went on display in Perth, but that was nothing in comparison to the complete rebuild it just underwent.

Thousands of work hours went into the restoration project, the majority of which were volunteered by former railway workers and tradespeople.

“For a long time now we’ve had groups of retirees who work for us as volunteers ... it’s been like our own little men’s shed,” Mr Studham said.

“It was those guys who pulled it down ... skilled guys who knew how to do it.”

H18 will make its way back to Boyanup this afternoon and be officially unveiled as a new exhibit at the heritage centre on Sunday.

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