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The following appeared in the National Trust of Australia (NSW) enews of 13th December 2006. The National Trust is calling for the 3801 locomotive to be returned to the Large Erecting Shop at Eveleigh.

3801 taken to Maitland

3801 entering workshops at Maitland

The National Trust was very disappointed to learn that the historic 3801 locomotive has been removed from the home it has had at Eveleigh (Redfern) since it was built in 1943 and where its operating base has been for the last twenty years, the Large Erecting Shop.

In November, 2005 the Trust wrote to the Minister for Transport, the Hon. John Watkins, expressing its deep concern at the impending removal of all historic railway associated development at Eveleigh and its belief that the historic association of this site with railway must continue.

maintenance pit collapses and track being held in place by only two bolts

The Trust sought the Minister’s support for the retention of an operating and service facility at Eveleigh and for an extension of the lease of the 3801 locomotive to ensure that it could continue to educate and to be enjoyed.

The nomination of the Large Erecting Shop and its collection of locomotives, rolling stock and equipment for listing on the National Heritage List has been strongly supported by the National Trust. The permanent removal of the 3801 locomotive from this site would be a major loss to this nationally and internationally significant site.

The recent O’Rourke Taskforce highlighted the importance of maintaining skills to ensure that the operation, maintenance and conservation of historic railway equipment can continue to be carried out.

Following the engine’s removal 3801 Limited has now announced the laying off of half of its skilled workforce and its workers are on record as being unwilling to relocate to Thirlmere (the planned new home at the NSW Rail Transport Museum).

The Minister’s media release of 27th November stated that the 3801 was to have a crew of members of both the Rail Transport Museum and 3801 Limited on its removal to Maitland.

However the necessary normal dry storage procedures for 38 class locomotives' which should have been carried out when the locomotive arrived at Maitland on 27th November, 2006 was never addressed.

3801 tender uncoupled and pulled back from collapsed pit’

The Trust had been advised that failure to comply with these protective maintenance procedures 'for a three week period could have serious and damaging effects to the boiler, cylinders and tender.' 

Sometime after 3801 arrived at Maitland the pit beneath the line within the workshop collapsed under the weight of the locomotive. In recentt 'Steamfest' festivals it had been agreed that 38 Class locomotives should not be taken into the Hunter Valley Training Company complex in light of the earlier 1997 breakage of a rail at the site.

3801 Limited skilled workers were then called in to uncouple the tender from the locomotive and to remove water from the tender to reduce its weight (the pit collapsed between the tender and the locomotive).

the 3801 locomotive ten days after its arrival at Maitland

The opportunity was then taken by the 3801 personnel to carry out the dry storage maintenance procedures to ensure that damage would not be sustained to the locomotive.

The National Trust has already listed on its Register the Eveleigh Railyards (including the Large Erecting Shop) and is now considering the listing of the three surviving 38 class locomotives –

3801 (removed from Large Erecting Shop, Eveleigh)
3820 (in storage at Thirlmere Rail Museum (no longer in operating condition)
3830 (Powerhouse Museum locomotive in Large Erecting Shop)

the condition of the rail line where the 3801 has been stored

The Trust again calls for a commitment by the State Government to retain the Large Erecting Shop intact with its collection of locomotives, rolling stock and equipment, the return of the 3801 locomotive to the Large Erecting Shop and urgent attention to the maintenance of the skills base for the care and operation of the state’s historic railways.

Half a million people have experienced and enjoyed travelling on this locomotive around Australia and would want to see its continuing active operation and proper care and presentation, such as is best achieved at Eveleigh.

The events of the past week confirm the threats posed to the long term conservation of the 3801 locomotive now that it has been removed from the skilled expertise of the last twenty years.

The Trust calls for the return of the 3801 locomotive to the Large Erecting Shop at Eveleigh immediately following the recovery of the engine from the workshop at the Hunter Valley Training Company in Maitland.

The National Trust eNews also included the National Heritage List Nomination Nominator's Summary Statement of Significance which are elsewhere on this site. The Full National Trust article can be found at