Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 40, September 1996
In April 1996 the Goldfields Steam Train Society at Waihi obtained a steam locomotive from the Waikato Branch of the New Zealand Railway& Locomotive Society. It is leased to the society for ten years with right of renewal. At the historic lease signing on Sunday night, 7 April, members of both societies had dinner in the society's dining car. The society has been interested in this locomotive ever since it formed and the acquisition was the culmination of sixteen years work by several committees.
Although there were originally 20 locomotives of the Fa class in New Zealand it is now the only one of its class left in the world. Originally numbered F 62 it was one of 88 "F" class locomotives built by Dubs and Co. of Glasgow in 1880, their 1368th locomotive. It began service in New Zealand in July 1881, being used by NZR and was based in Auckland. With a new numbering system it became F 250 in 1890. A new boiler built by Vulcan in England was fitted in 1892 and it was rebuilt into an 0-6-0 "Fa" class at the Addington Railway Workshops as their number 5. It was then transferred to the then isolated Westport section in 1897 and hauled coal from Seddonville to Westport.
In 1900 it was lengthened going from an 0-6-0 wheel configuration to an 0-6-2 and classed "Fb". When the last of its type was converted in 1905 it reverted back to "Fa" as there was no longer the need for distinction between the two types. Fa 250 received a new boiler from Addington in 1924 and worked the Westport section until 1943.
It was then purchased by Whakatane Board Mills for use on their Matahina Tramway. This tramway utilised NZR tracks between Edgecumbe and Awakeri. With the arrival of two new Drewry diesels in 1948 and 1951, Fa 250 was relegated to the Board Mill and used as a spare engine when one of the new diesels needed maintenance. The Board Mills also owned Fa 41 which had received a new boiler from A & G Price in 1948 but it was abused by a drunken engineer and suffered a major failure in 1957. This meant Fa 250 was pressed back into service.
Fa 250 was finally retired in 1966 (when the Matahina Tramway closed) and was donated to the Waikato Society in 1967. It remained at Te Awamutu as a static exhibit until it was transported to Waihi by Mullan's Transport on Thursday 11 April. It is hoped eventually to get the loco back into running order. When running, the Fa 250 weighs 29 tons and it has three times the power of the Peckett loco currently working the Waihi to Waikino line.