The Tumultuous Life of ‘Heavy Harry’
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In the annals of Australian railway history, there stands a formidable giant, a true testament to the ingenuity and ambition of the Victorian Railways – the H class steam locomotive, affectionately known as “Heavy Harry.” Among its kin, H220 emerged as the largest non-articulated steam locomotive ever built in Australia and held the title of the heaviest steam locomotive to grace the tracks of Victoria.
Design and Construction
The genesis of Heavy Harry can be traced to the drawing boards of Victorian Railways’ design office. Conceived with a purpose, H220 was crafted at the Newport Workshops in Melbourne, boasting a distinctive 4-6-4T wheel arrangement. This colossus measured an impressive 23.2 meters in length and tipped the scales at a staggering 260 tonnes.
H220’s maiden voyage into service in 1941 marked the beginning of a storied career. Initially tasked with hauling express passenger trains between Melbourne and Ararat, Heavy Harry also found itself at the helm of the prestigious Overlander service, connecting Melbourne and Adelaide. However, its sheer weight proved a challenge, limiting its widespread use due to bridge constraints on the Victorian Railways network.
Upon launch, The Herald newspaper wrote:
Retirement and Preservation
As the winds of progress swept in, H220 faced retirement in 1958. Its resting place became the Newport Workshops, until 1972 when it found a new home at the Victorian Railways Museum. Heavy Harry now stands proudly on display, a relic of a bygone era, with its imposing presence captivating visitors from around the globe.
Heavy Harry occupies a significant chapter in the story of Australian railways. A marvel of its time, it symbolises the zenith of steam locomotive technology in Victoria. The locomotive not only serves as a testament to engineering prowess but has also become a cherished tourist attraction, a living reminder of the golden age of steam travel.