Fanny was a much-loved engine of the Junee railway community. The little 1885 tank engine worked at the Junee Roundhouse for more than 15 years. She shunted engines much bigger than herself around the Roundhouse and tended to their needs for coaling and de-ashing.
Fanny’s life as the depot shunter was a busy one. It was mostly spent in the Roundhouse. But on several occasions, Fanny went to town. Each time she was lovingly prepared and dressed in her finery by her devoted crew.
Fanny hadn’t had the best of track records before coming to Junee. There was a report that she and her sister engines had been ‘banished’ from the Sydney scene for too much ‘dancing’ off the tracks. Fanny was known to be a bit eager to start at times and, on one notable occasion, had taken a nose dive into the Roundhouse turntable pit. Fanny was also inclined to be somewhat impatient and didn’t always wait for her crew to get on board.
When Fanny went to town she was on her best behaviour. Painted up in her livery of green and black with a dash of gold lining, her brass steam dome polished and her buffer beams forming a cummerbund of red front and back, Fanny proudly displayed her number 23 on her side and her name plate in front of her chimney.
In 1959 she led Junee engines into Wagga for the 80th anniversary celebration of the opening of the Wagga railway. Fanny proudly wore the Australian Coat of Arms made especially for her. She travelled under her own steam there and back, which was no small feat. Later she was put on a display at the Junee station and attracted a great deal of interest.
Two years later she led the Junee engines again. On this occasion, it was into Junee station to meet two vintage engines, 1243 and 1210, which were visiting for the Junee 75 Year Local Government Celebrations. Rumour has it that Fanny engaged in a bit of “sparring”, racing against her colleagues from Sydney. The community certainly turned out to see Fanny and her visitors. One wonders if at the end of the day Fanny introduced the Sydney engines to her usual workplace – the Roundhouse and its turntable.
It was a sad day in Junee when, despite the best efforts of Junee District Historical Society, Fanny was set aside and later sent to Cardiff to be scrapped.
A recent publication ‘Fanny the shunting tank engine’, available at the Junee Roundhouse Museum, tells some of Fanny’s story. Visitors to the museum are greeted by a model of Fanny built by Brian Whitechurch.
Many thanks to Broadway Museum staff for the help in finding out about Fanny.