The Eveleigh Locomotive Workshops

For over a hundred years, the Eveleigh Locomotive Workshop was the largest and most technologically advanced blacksmiths’ workshop in the Southern Hemisphere.

Opened in 1887 by the New South Wales government for the maintenance and manufacture of steam locomotives, it continued to operate until 1988. Two intact operating bays remain – both of which are inhabited by Eveleigh Works.

According to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., Eveleigh contains “the largest and most integral collection of Victorian blacksmithing equipment, in terms of integrity and extent, known in the western world.” We use a large portion of this heritage equipment.

Steam Power

Historically, the blacksmithing machinery was powered by steam from four C36-class locomotive boilers. The pump room provided water at 800lbs/sq for the presses and spring-making equipment, and for the hydraulic elevator (which hoisted materials to the charge deck of the cupolas in the foundry).

The Woodburytype Press

The Woodburytype Press was originally made by Ludovico Wolfgang Hart for the NSW Government Printing Office circa 1877, and appears to be the only press of its kind that survives. Its discovery sparked great interest for researchers in the field of early photographic printing.

The Davy Press

In 1929, the Davy Press was installed by the Australian Navy; they allowed the Department of Transport to operate the press as part of the Australian Self Sufficiency Drive after the U-Boat scare of WWI. The Press was capable of working ingots 3 feet thick, and is considered the jewel in the crown of Australian industrial archaeology. It operated with a seven-man crew and was the largest forging press of its day in the Southern Hemisphere. Some of the porter bars for manipulating the steel weigh close to two tonnes—a testament to the efforts required during 19th century industrialism.

Grandfather of the steam hammers

The 40cwt double arch hammer is two tonnes of moving parts, situated in Bay 1 South—the only bay to retain its original dirt floor. The hammer is believed to come from the first Government railway workshop and is dated to around 1865, making it one of the oldest steam hammers in the world. The inventor of these hammers, Sir James Naysmith, also invented the vertically acting steam engine—as seen on the Roots blowers, which provided high volume, low pressure air to the furnaces and forges throughout the workshop via an underground network of cast iron pipes.

Realm of the third-class machinist

In Bay 2 South, automation and mass production ruled the day; this area was staffed by experienced laborers who had worked their way up to operating a machine on their own. Two upset forging machines on the western side remain complete, with dies for boiler rivets, cotter pins, crown stays for boilers and all manner of bolts and shackles. Other associated equipment here include the frazing machines—a combination of a rotary rasp (to trim flash from forgings) and a hot saw (to split bars prior to forging clevises)—and jib cranes, which were used to change dies. On the eastern side of the bay is a row of forges that each have an Oliver Hammer—that is, a steam powered striker set up for tool-smithing and the manufacture of brake keys. ‘Oliver Smiths’, as the operators were called, spent most of their working lives forging crowbars and chisels for other workers in the Railway.