No.1 - p2-3/15

 © NOVEMBER 1962



 Steam is still much to the fore on South Africa’s industrial railways. True enough, the diesel is there, but except for a few instances, it plays a secondary role. Gauges are not as varied as in Britain, with 3'6" and 2'0" being general, and a few examples of 2'6". Most striking is the size of locomotive, for the 4−8−2 tank is about average, with a good percentage of six−coupled tanks in line. On the 3'6" gauge the four−coupled locomotive is seldom found, but on the 2'0" it is quite common.

The largest individual owner is the South African Iron & Steel Corporation with some forty locomotives, all diesel with the exception of two, a Baldwin 4−8−2 tank and an ex−South African Railways (S.A.R.) 2−8−2 tender locomotive. A number of Natal sugar estates on the "narrow” (2'0") gauge, and the Electricity Supply Commission on the “standard” (3'6") gauge, follow with a total stud of some twenty locomotives each. The E.S.C. owns several four-coupled engines, including a 2−4−0 tank from the Jersey Railways & Tramways Ltd. and, until sold to the S.A.R., South Africa’s only battery locomotive. The sugar plantations use a weird and wonderful collection of motive power including 0−4−0 side tanks, geared locomotives, 0440 Mallets, and hefty-looking 2−6−2 and 0−6−2 tanks of Bagnall and Hunslet manufacture. One plantation depends entirely on a batch of 4−4−0 tanks. On the diesel side there are on this gauge (2'0") a considerable number of four- and six-coupled types of British and German manufacture, some double-bogie machines, and also a solitary triple-bogie articulated. The Rustenburg Platinum Mines operate their 2'0" gauge system with a batch of Bagnall 0−4−2 side tanks and a 2−6−6−2 Garratt, the latter being the last survivor of a trio purchased second-hand from the S.A.R.

The S.A.R. have supplied many locomotives for industrial lines. Although at present only a dozen or so tank engines are left in service on the S.A.R., a further hundred have found their way to industrial systems. They include a large number of S.A.R. locomotives of classes “A” and “B”, of which the former is a 4−8−2 tank of Natal Government Railways origin, and the latter an 0−6−4 tank. 180 examples of class “B” were built for the old Netherlands South African Railway and some thirty-five survive, including number 1 of the Dutch builder Werkspoor. Other locomotives supplied by the S.A.R. include 460 and 4−8−0 tender, 4−6−4 tanks, 4−8−2 tanks of classes “G” and “H2”, a half−dozen 2−6−6−0 Mallets, some 4−8−2 main-line types, and several oddments which, although of no use to the S.A.R., lived to a ripe old age with their industrial owners. One of these was an 0−6−6−0 Kitson-Meyer sold in 1911 and which remained in service until recently.

Among the types purchased new is a variety of North British 4−8−2 and 4−8−4 tanks which forms a considerable part of the total, a very neat-looking 4−6−2 tank of Hawthorn Leslie manufacture, some ten-coupled types, Garratts, 4−8−2 tanks, 0−8−0 tanks, 2−6−2 tanks, and many others. One type which deserves special mention is the North British tender locomotive of S.A.R. 4−8−2 design built new for several mines.

South Africa’s first electric railway is now no more. It was an industrial line near Johannesburg electrified in 1912 on the monophase high-frequency system, and used locomotives built by the German firm of Allgemeine Elektricitaets Gesellschaft. Another line that has closed down was the only local one to use Westinghouse air brakes. Still operating, however, is the system which uses 3'6" gauge locomotives of enormous size, converted from 60cm gauge without any considerable body modification. For the remainder, the electric railways use double-bogie locomotives, in one instance of S.A.R. type, and on the 2'0" gauge small four-wheel types mainly of American manufacture.


Above   Hawthorn, Leslie 2690 of 1907 (ex S.A.R. NG3, No.7), a 4-6-2 side tank on the 2'0" gauge system of the Luipaardsvlei Estates Ltd., 12th May 1944.

Below    Posing outside the shed of the East Geduld Mines Ltd. on 2nd December 1944 is Dubs 3565 of 1897 (ex S.A.R. class A, No.164).

(Both Photos courtesy of N. Fields)


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