The South Maitland Railways (SMR) Archive held at the University of Newcastle (Australia) has helped a team, on the other side of the world, restoring railway steam locomotives at the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland, located in Whitehead, Northern Ireland.
There is a particular item located on all of their locomotives called an “injector”. These were made by Messrs. Gresham and Craven under patent, and it was almost impossible to find technical drawings to repair them once they had worn out.
That was the case, until early October 2020, when it came to the attention of James Friel, Locomotive Running Officer at the RPS, that the South Maitland Railways had found the same problem back in the 1970s and somehow produced their own detailed drawings of the Gresham and Craven injector.
As far as he could tell from the University of Newcastle Library website, these drawings now resided in our Cultural Collections and enquired whether copies could be made.
These plans were located and digitised using our Contex 42 inch plan scanner, and sent to James in high resolution.
The locomotives these plans will help restore are the No. 131 and locomotives No. 85 and 171.
Locomotive 131 was built in 1901 and was restored to working order from scrapyard condition in 2015; our drawings will help them keep her in full working order.
As the video below explains, she was one of thirteen ever made, and all named after characters in classical mythology, in this case, Uranus, God of the Sky. See the video below detailing the history of this locomotive No.131.
For all the SMR plans currently digitised in high resolution see our Living Histories @ UON Digital Platform. If you wish to support further digitisation of this SMR archive, then consider supporting the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund and help provide student paid employment and skills training.
We wish James and the team at the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland all the best in the restoration.
Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist and Chair, Hunter Living Histories