Steam locomotive "Ajax"
The oldest preserved steam locomotive on the European continent is exhibited at the Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Technical Museum).
The Emperor Ferdinand Northern Railway Line was the first steam-operated railway line of the Austrian monarchy, transporting raw materials from Moravia and Silesia. Prior to the collapse of the monarchy it was the most successful of its railway lines.
The double-tracked main line sprouted numerous branch lines. Two locomotives were purchased in 1841 for the route to Stockerau. Indeed, Austria’s first domestic locomotive factory, the engineering works of the Vienna-Gloggnitz Railway, was only completed that same year.
The order for the Ajax and Minotaurus locomotives was therefore placed with the English firm of James, Turner & Evans. Features of the distinctively English design style included a short wheelbase and inboard cylinders. The locomotives had to be disassembled for shipping. They were loaded onto carts and first shipped to Vienna, after which they were reassembled.
The two sister locomotives subsequently went into service in passenger and freight operations. In 1856 the Ajax was given a new tender, built in 1847 by the engineering works of the Vienna-Gloggnitz Railway. In 1857 it was fitted with a new steam boiler and remained in service for another 17 years.
Decommissioned and stabled inside a shed of the Northern Railway, it sank into oblivion. It was rediscovered on the railway line’s 70th anniversary, restored, and finally given pride of place at the Technisches Museum Wien.