The Atlas Works Sydney — making the first locomotive engine1881

by Arthur Collingridge

In 1880 the contract to build Australia’s first locally-made engines was awarded to Sydney’s Atlas Engineering Company. Each of the 48 locomotives weighed over 60 tons and the manufacture required hard physical labour in hot and smoky conditions.

The unusual subject matter attracted the interest of Arthur Collingridge, a European-trained commercial artist, who had worked for many of the world’s leading illustrated newspapers before arriving in Sydney in 1887. Collingridge’s ‘powerful sketch study in black and white’ was exhibited at the Sydney Town Hall in 1883, described by one critic as being ‘as elaborate as a photograph and much more expressive than any photograph can ever be.’ 

‘Art Society of New South Wales’, Sydney Morning Herald, 21 March 1883, page 11.