Bay of Islands Vintage Railway
Gabriel the Steam Engine
The locomotive builder Pecketts of Bristol in the south west of England built five 4-4-0 engines. Two went to Southern Ireland, which ran on the Schule & Skibbereen Railway, and were named Allen (after a man so named) and Gabriel, after Mount Gabriel in South West Ireland.
Bay of Islands Vintage Railway in Northland
Two others went to Sarawak and were named Bintang & Bulang (moon & star in Malay). Sarawak ordered a third engine around 1915, and was to be named Mata Hari (eye of the day, or midday), but the teak trade declined due to WW1 and the order was cancelled, even though Pecketts had almost finished the engine.
Gabriel was one of these five engines and is the only one of her class remaining, so she is definitely one of a kind.
Around 1925 Portland Cement made enquiries about a light shunting loco, mainly to go onto their wharf, and bought the Sarawak engine, to be re-gauged from metre gauge to 3 foot six. She was purchased by the Portland Cement Company of Whangarei and was used to move coal and lime wagons at the cement works.
Gabriel was given on loan to the Bay of Islands Scenic Railway in 1985 and was subsequently purchased by the Bay Of Islands Vintage Railway Trust. It was at this point that she was renamed Gabriel. Since then Gabriel has become a real icon of Kawakawa, one of the few towns in the world with a railway track running through the middle of the main street.