The 59 Class are a steam locomotive ordered by the New South Wales Government Railways of Australia. The class were ordered after the Second World War from the Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corporation to relieve motive power shortages. The design is a variation on the USRA Light Mikado, a design which first appeared in 1918. Twenty locomotives were delivered during 1952–1953. The main visible differences are the locations of the steam and sand domes on the boiler and the location of the headlight. The most immediately apparent difference is the rather stubby short tender that was specially built to allow the 59-class to be turned on standard 60-foot turntables. It was the specification of these tenders which considerably delayed the delivery from initial order. Unfortunately due to the weight of the locomotive it was eventually discovered in service that most 60-foot (18 m) turntables could not turn the 59 class due to balancing issues. The class was the first oil burners to be introduced by the NSWGR and were the first locomotives to be built by Baldwin since 1905. They were firstly used on the Short North, from the Enfield Marshalling yards to Broadmeadow. They were soon placed in service on both the Western and Southern lines and, although their light axle load made them available to a large proportion of the state, their sphere of operation was limited by the location of oil fuelling facilities. Accordingly, they saw most of their service as oil burners on the Main North and North Coast lines, as well as the Sydney metropolitan area.
A decision was made in 1961 to convert the majority of the class to coal burning. A total of 17 locomotives were treated using an ashpan based on the C38 class arrangements, together with modifications to the smokebox, fitting of brick arches, grates, firehole doors, etc.. Two 59-class remained as oil-burners (the other member of the class had been previously scrapped) and they ended their service as shunters at Grafton, then transferred to Broadmeadow in December, 1970 as stationary boilers. 5916 was subsequently, in August, 1974, sent to the Eveleigh Carriage Works for a similar duty. The coal burning locomotives were mainly operated from the Enfield depot, working to Goulburn. They were also based at Broadmeadow, working from Gosford to Muswellbrook. From early 1969, double-headed 59-class were often used at weekends on goods trains to Taree. On the Main west line, from February, 1967, a 59-class could be found on banking duties on the grades east and west of Bathurst. Major withdrawals did not occur until 1970 and the last member of the class in service was 5910 which was withdrawn on 11 December, 1972.
5 examples of this class are preserved:
- 5908 - Preserved by the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum (NSWRTM), still in ex-service oil-burning condition but in Storage at Goulburn Roundhouse
- 5910 - Preserved by the NSWRTM (in under-cover storage)
- 5916 - Preserved by the NSWRTM still in ex-service oil-burning condition but in Storage at Goulburn Roundhouse
- 5917 - Lachlan Valley Railway (under repair at Eveleigh workshops)
- 5920 - Preserved by the Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum (in open-air storage heavily oiled)