The East Greta Coal Company had constructed its railway empire based on a motley group of secondhand and borrowed steam locomotives, which by 1910, was fast becoming insufficient to move the great loads coming from the Greta Seam which ran right through the South Maitland coalfield. Standardised motive power was sought, and a melding of the New South Wales Department of Railways' P(6) 4-6-0 and T(524) 2-8-0 (later C32 and D50 respectively) designs brought about the 10 Class. The 2-8-2T locomotives of the East Greta Coal Company (later South Maitland Railway) were built by Beyer, Peacock and Company in Manchester, England, between 1911 and 1925. They were to later become known as the '10' class, as the class leader was numbered as that company's 2nd No. 10. Fourteen of these locomotives were constructed, and numbered where they could be accommodated within the EMCC (later SMR) numbering system. This proved haphazard, the numbers allocated being 2nd No. 10 (later 10), 17-20, 22-28 and 30-31
The locomotives were delivered in broken down form, but were erected onsite at the East Greta Junction Workshops (colloquially known as the 'Red Shed'). Immediately they were pressed into service bringing in the black diamonds, the Cessnock goods, and on at least one occasion, the Circus train. This remained consistent until the 1950s, when a sharp downturn in the international demand for New South Wales coal led to certain members of the class being set aside as boiler work was required. With the upturn in the late 1960s, and the purchase by Coal & Allied of the South Maitland and JABAS Railways (colloquially known as the Richmond Vale railway line, New South Wales) a plan was formed to reboiler both the 10 Class and the ex-JABAS ROD locomotives. It was determined to be of greater benefit to allow the remaining RODs to work out their economic lives, and to start a system of repairing the 10 Class as soon as possible for the revived traffic. On 21 March 1973, SMR 23 arrived Hexham to assist in the movement of coal from the mine at Stockrington on the former JABAS railway. This would begin a 14 year association of the 10 Class with this system, with each class member spending at least a few weeks in service there. All maintenance at this time was undertaken at East Greta Junction, with the locomotives being transferred dead on empty and loaded coal trains. Steam on the South Maitland Railway system ended in June 1983, with SMR 31 bringing in the last load, and SMR 22, with van in tow, bringing in the last steam-hauled revenue train to traverse the South Maitland Railway, with great ceremony. From then until September 1987, East Greta Junction Workshops became solely devoted to providing four 10 Class at all times to Hexham, with the others in storage (except SMR 19, which was on display at Port Waratah Coal Loader.)
SMR 10 Class at HexhamEdit
Following the handover of operations of the SMR to the State Rail Authority (SRA), the 10 class' new haunt became the truncated JABAS railway - that is, Hexham to Stockrington. As steam on all State Government systems in Australia had ended in the 1970s, this was the last 'real' steam in Australia, attracting much media attention. In September 1987, Coal & Allied announced that the line would soon close, with all coal haulage going to road. The last remained crews at Hexham protested and blockaded the entrance to the loader, using SMR 30 and a rake of wagons. After a long standoff, during which the men were sacked and stripped of their entitlements, SMR 30 hauled the last loaded coal train from Stockrington loader to Hexham Washery, and later SMR 25, on the 22nd September 1987, hauled the last revenue steam-hauled train in Australia - a string of empties to be stored at Hexham.
The C&A employees, however, were still not satisfied with the outcome, and protested the cancellation of the steam program. The men were dismissed, and in combination with their pleas being unheard, they lit up SMR 25, and ran it light engine over the swamp and to a location near Lenaghan's Drive, where a public protest was staged. Local farmers assisted with water supplies, and a sympathetic truck driver 'dropped' some coal nearby. This protest lasted for three weeks until the men were reinstated and their entitlements reissued, and on 15 October 1987, SMR 25 became the last steam locomotive to cross Hexham Swamp, ending 130 years of continuous steam operation in this locale.
The story of the 10 Class in preservation is worth a book of its own. The first moves to preserve these locomotives happened in the late 1970s, with the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum and the Richmond Vale Railway Museum making approaches to Coal & Allied to preserve at least one of the locomotives upon withdrawal, however these requests were refused. The first of the tribe to be preserved was SMR 19, which had been withdrawn awaiting overhaul and had its leading bogie used to repair No.31 following damage in the 1982 Fishery Creek accident. 19 was gutted and placed on display on a plinth at Port Waratah Coal Loader, with three non-air hoppers and an ex-JABAS brake van. In 2000 it was moved into storage to be cosmetically restored, along with the wagons, but this never eventuated. In 2009, 19 and her wagons were donated to the RVRM, and 19 is now on static display, with a view to completing the static restoration in the near future. Following the cessation of steam services on the SMR proper in 1983, any locomotive that was not detained on Hexham workings was stored in the former loco shed at East Greta Junction. Moves were made to made preserve the locomotives as a whole, unique in New South Wales. In 1989, 22, 24, 25 and 30, which were stored at Hexham, were donated by C&A to the RVRM, and transferred there that year, where 24 became the first of the group to steam in preservation. 25 quickly followed after some repairs to the firebox, and the two locomotives were the mainstay of the museum's operations for many years. Both locomotives were withdrawn awaiting boiler lifts to allow for a for full external boiler inpsection in the late 1990s. 30 was returned to service in April 2000. In 2009 30 was retired with serious mechanical problems, and the good boiler from 30 is to be replaced in 24, however this is a long-term project, and neither locomotive will steam in the near future. 22 was dismantled with a view to a return to steam in the early 1990s, however this deemed to be uneconomical, and the locomotive was completed and put on static display at the museum. 25 is in store underneath the former screens of Richmond Main mine. In the late 1980s the Hunter Valley Training Company was granted ownership of the remaining nine locomotives. The HVTC, chaired by Milton Morris, former NSW Transport Minister, retained ownership of 10 and 18 - 10, as it was the class leader, and 18, because it was uniquely fitted with a fully welded boiler in 1980, and was seen as an excellent resource for the apprentices. These locomotives were overhauled by the Friends of the South Maitland Railways, and made their public debut at the Hunter Valley Steamfest 1990, which featured 10 in steam and 18 on static display. The locomotives made regular appearances at this event, climaxing in 1994, when 18 and 3112 hauled the first tourist trains since 1983 on the SMR, topping and tailing between Neath and East Greta Junction, and 10 and the HVTC's diesel shunter 7307 gave brakevan rides in East Greta Junction yard. In 1995, 18 was placed on permanent loan to 3801 Limited, with a view to operating the locomotive on 'The Cockatoo Run' from Unanderra to Moss Vale. Whilst it completed the run on a few occasions, the locomotive was an unqualified failure in this role, and was eventually stored at the Large Erecting Shop at Eveleigh. The locomotive was sent to Bradken Rail's workshops at Braemar and overhauled, and was transferred to Hunter Valley Railway Works at Rothbury in early 2007. 18 was significantly modified whilst under 3801 Limited's care, including but not limited to an extended smokebox, replacement welded tanks and an increased bunker, both of which it still carries. 10 was retired to the shed in the late 1990s, and was dismantled by apprentices in 2002, but the project stalled. 10 was then transferred to HVRW Rothbury, where it was reassembled using 27's boiler and tanks, and made its return to steam in September 2005, double-heading a train to Newcastle and return with 3801. The locomotive made three more public appearances following this tour - Steamfest 2006, on display at East Greta Junction, Great Northern Railway 150, March 2007, shuttle trips from Newcastle to Broadmeadow, and Steamfest 2007, a one-off tour to Newcastle with 18. On November 5, 2010, 10 and 18 steamed back into their spiritual home at East Greta Junction in the hope that they will continue the work started in the early 1990s. On the 5th of August 2011, SMR 10 and 18 took a special Passenager train along their old stomping home to Neath and back to celerbrate not one but three special occasions, the 30th anniversary of the Hunter Valley training company, 125 years since the Greta coal seam discovery and the 100th Anniversary of SMR 10. SMR 10 was turned by the to face front on for the excursion. Since then in Febuaray, 2012 SMR 18 and 10 did return along the SMR line for somne unsuccessful trails for some steam tours by 3801 Limited in the Sydney area. The remainder of the locomotives - 17, 20, 23, 26, 27, 28 and 31 - were sold to Chris Richards in the early 1990s, and transferred to his HVRW Rothbury site a good while after. 17 was pressed into sporadic service on the former Ayrfield Colliery branch hauling tour trains, however this ceased in the late 1990s. 23 was overhauled by the Friends of South Maitland Railways and Hnuter Valley Training Company in 1998, and was painted in a powder blue livery and had a Pyle National headlight fitted. In 2002, 23 was posed in the refuge at Branxton, in steam for that year's Steamfest, however has not made any public appearances since. It is presently stored dismantled, along with 27. It is hoped that 23 will be restored back to former glory one day. The remainder of the locomotives are stored in as-withdrawn condition. It has only just been announced (August 2012) that SMR 17, 20, 23, 26, 27, 28 and 31 owned by Chris Richards are for sale along with the HVRW fleet due to the new housing development of Huntlee with will be over the old site of the North Rothbury mine and HVRW. The 10 Class are unique, along with 3801, in being the only steam locomotives protected by the National Trust.
In the mediaEdit
Being the last steam locomotives in Australia, the 10 Class have had more than their fair share of media attention. The documentaries 'Destiny of Steam', 'The Richmond Vale Railway', 'Hearts of Fire', 'Return to Steam' and 'Farewell to Steam', all rating well on major television networks, all feature the 10 Class in a large proportion. The 10 Class, and the stories of their final days at Hexham, were featured in major articles in 'Woman's Day' and 'National Geographic' magazines
A HO scale whitemetal/brass kit of the SMR 10 Class was produced in the 1980s by Footplate Scale Models, and was available until the early 2000s, when FSM/Lloyds Models was sold. Ezi-Kits reissued a limited number of the kits in 2009, and in 2010 Casula Hobbies (the owners of the moulds) re-released the kit with new wheels. Eureka Models is planning to release a ready to run (RTR) model.