|THE INDUSTRIAL RAILWAY RECORD
© SEPTEMBER 1967
THE NATIVES OF NIGEL
In a darkened room on the outskirts of London a slide show was in progress. Suddenly one slide draws gasps of astonishment from the audience. A reaction is transferred from a railway enthusiast in South Africa standing outside a small locomotive shed not far from Johannesburg to fellow enthusiasts 6,000 miles away. This is one of the pleasant things about railway enthusiasm. If you can't yourself visit the far-flung railway networks of the world you can at least enjoy the sight (and even the sound of them. We haven't yet got around to being able to record the smell, but in this case it wasn't particularly of moment! It was enough to see a narrow gauge locomotive – gleaming in the bright sun, with light brown livery almost spotless.
The shed was on the property of the Sub Nigel Gold Mining Co. Ltd. at Dunnotor and its two roads were of 2ft 6in gauge. Simmering outside stood an Orenstein & Koppel and a "Hudson" six coupled tank. Inside, another "Hudson" (actually built by Hudswell Clarke for Robert Hudson Ltd.) was receiving a fresh coat of paint, and a Drewry diesel stood dormant. The Sub Nigel mine still operates three shaft's giving access to the gold-bearing "reef", and the narrow gauge system links all of them to the central reduction plant where the ore is crushed and the gold extracted. In operation for forty years, the mine has been one of the richest in South Africa, but it is now nearing the end of its life.
Rather surprisingly the Drewry diesel is kept as a spare, being deemed unsuitable, and the Orenstein and Hudsons are left to puff their way across the embankment to the south shaft, or under the road to the northern section. But while they triumph today their days are numbered, and it is doubtful indeed whether they will survive the mine.