Phoenix Foundry

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The Phoenix Foundry was a company that built steam locomotives and other industrial machinery in the city of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. Over 30 years they built 352 locomotives for the Victorian Railways, of 38 different designs. [1]



AA class locomotive of 1900 AA class locomotive.jpg
AA class locomotive of 1900

The Phoenix Foundry was established in 1854 to build mining machinery and was incorporated as the Phoenix Foundry Co. Ltd. in 1870. [2]

The company was established by iron-founder William Shaw, moulder Robert Holden, and engine-smiths Richard Carter and George Threlfall. The business prospered, and by November 1861 it employed 96 men, producing a wide range of products. From around 1858 the employees were working an eight-hour day while doing as much work as English workers did in ten hours. [3] In 1871 Phoenix completed the locomotive named Governor Weld which was the first steam locomotive to operate in Western Australia. Also in August 1871 the foundry successfully tendered for the first Victorian Government railway locomotive contracts, with the first locomotive being delivered on 27 February 1873, and by 1884 over 350 men were employed. Modernisation of the works was carried out after Shaw visited Britain in 1871 and 1885, with the workshops becoming the most advanced in the southern hemisphere. The hundredth locomotive was completed in April 1883 and the two hundredth by October 1887. [3] The majority of locomotives built were duplicates of imported 'pattern engines' designed and built overseas by other companies. [4]

Problems arose in 1889 when Shaw attempted enforce a non-union shop, which resulted in conflict with the employees. [3] Further trouble arose regarding the foundry's relationships with the Victorian Railways (VR), with a tender war erupting between Phoenix and the VR Newport Workshops for the construction of Dd class 4-6-0 light-line locomotives. [5] A Royal Commission was appointed in October 1904 to resolve the question of the 'real costs' of production. The Commission found in favour of Newport, which could produce a locomotive for £3,364 - some £497 cheaper than Phoenix's cost, and noted that Phoenix was making a 23 percent profit on each locomotive. Phoenix received no further orders from the VR beyond the seven members of the Dd class which were delivered in 1904. The works lasted another year until the directors entered voluntary liquidation. [5]


B class with original spark-arresting funnel B class at Ballarat.jpg
B class with original spark-arresting funnel

Locomotives built by the Phoenix Foundry for the Victorian Railways included: [6] [7]

Engineering heritage award

The foundry received an Engineering Heritage Marker from Engineers Australia as part of its Engineering Heritage Recognition Program. [11]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Victorian Railways H class

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Victorian Railways J class

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Operation Phoenix (railway)

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The Victorian Railways M class were 4-4-0T (tank) steam locomotives for suburban passenger service in Melbourne, a pattern engine being supplied in 1879 by Beyer, Peacock & Co. Twenty-one further locomotives of this model were built by the Phoenix Foundry of Ballarat, in three batches, from 1884 to 1886. They were numbered 40, 210-240, and 312-320, and were classed M in 1886.

Victorian Railways 'Old' V class were the first government goods steam locomotives on Victorian Railways, built by George England & Co. The four engines were 0-6-0 configuration tender engines built in 1857-8 with builders numbers 142-145. The engines arrived in Port Phillip in September 1858 along with a passenger locomotive of 2-2-2 tender configuration.

Victorian Railways Z class

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Victorian Railways Y class

The Victorian Railways Y class was a class of 0-6-0 steam locomotives.

Victorian Railways E class

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V&SAR Intercolonial Express Carriages

V&SAR Intercolonial Express Carriages were carriages on a new train called the Intercolonial Express running on Victorian Railways and South Australian Railways in 1887. The track of two railways met on Wednesday 19 January 1887. The Victorian Railways' Western Line to Dimboola, and the South Australian Railways' Wolseley line, met at Serviceton. Since both sides shared the broad gauge of 5'3", an agreement was made between the two railways allowing a pool of carriages, classed O, to be specifically allocated to interstate trains linking the capitals of Melbourne and Adelaide. The operating and maintenance cost of the new train would be funded by both railways, roughly 60% paid for by the Victorian Railways and 40% by the South Australian Railways.

Victorian Railways T class (1874)

The 23 Victorian Railways T class locomotives were built from 1874 as a light lines goods engine.


  1. "Victorian Railways: Phoenix Foundry Locomotives". Museum Victoria. Retrieved 3 August 2008.
  2. "Phoenix Foundry Co Ltd - Australian Science at Work Corporate entry". Retrieved 2 August 2008.
  3. 1 2 3 Graeme Cope. "Shaw, William Henry (1830 - 1896)". Australian Dictionary of Biography Online. Retrieved 2 August 2008.
  4. Lee, Robert (2007). The Railways of Victoria 1854-2004. Melbourne University Publishing Ltd. p. 109. ISBN   978-0-522-85134-2.
  5. 1 2 Lee, Robert (2007). The Railways of Victoria 1854-2004. Melbourne University Publishing Ltd. p. 141. ISBN   978-0-522-85134-2.
  6. VicRail Public Relations (1981). Power Parade. ISBN   0-7241-3323-2.
  7. Cave, Buckland & Beardsell (2002). Steam Locomotives of the Victorian Railways - Volume 1: The First Fifty Years. Melbourne: ARHS. ISBN   1-876677-38-4.
  8. Cave, et al., p. 51
  9. Oberg, Leon (2007). Locomotives of Australia 1854-2007. Rosenberg Publishing. pp. 83–84. ISBN   1-877058-54-8.
  10. Cave, et al., p. 202
  11. "Phoenix Foundry, 1856 - 1906". Engineers Australia. Retrieved 7 May 2020.

Further reading