To celebrate the 120th birthday and the opening of the West Coast Wilderness Railway Museum 7XS did a live Broadcast outside the train station. With guest speakers Anthony Brown - GM of the WCWR, New Food and Beverage Attendant Matt Arnold, WCWR Commercial Manager Amanda Wakefield, Rail Infrastructure Supervisor Darren "Bogger" Bryce, Museum coordinator Lea Walpole, WCC General Manager Dirk Dowling and Liberal Minister Adam Brooks.
A fun, informative morning to celebrate a remarkable era in Tasmania’s history marking the 120th birthday of the oldest of the Mount Lyell Railway Abt locomotives, which is still in regular use on what is now known as the West Coast Wilderness Railway. Abt Locomotive No.1 was built in Glasgow and shipped in pieces to the port of Strahan, arriving in late August 1896. The story goes that she arrived without any assembly instructions so putting her together was a test of the railway workers, most of whom had never seen an Abt locomotive before. However, in keeping with the motto of the Mount Lyell Railway to ‘’find a way or make a way” to get things done, with trial and error and a great deal of perseverance and ingenuity, they managed to put the locomotive and its rack-and-pinion drive mechanism, together. Within a month of arriving, Loco No.1 was being tested on a short section of track at Camp Spur fitted with rack bars. The line was inspected and declared open for traffic, with regular train services commencing on 21st December, 1896.
Eventually the Mount Lyell Railway had five Abt steam locomotives on the line. Of these, Loco’s 1, 3 & 5 are back in service on the West Coast Wilderness Railway today; No 2 is in the Tasmanian Transport Museum in Hobart and No.4 was buried in a quarry in Queenstown. No.1 remained in service until the line’s closure in 1963, when she was given the honor of pulling the last passenger train in August. She remained on display at the West Coast Heritage Centre in Zeehan until being fully restored and returned to service in 2001 when the Mount Lyell Railway reopened as the West Coast Wilderness Railway.
Take a look at the pictures gallery from this wonderful event...