Wednesday, 28 April 2010


Works Photo of a W.G.Bagnall Ltd SAR-NG7 & NG8

Bagnall & Kerr Stuart.
SAR-NG7 &NG8 No’s 27-32 & 36-38

In 1903 6 locomotives based on the Baldwin design for the Hopefield Railway where ordered from W.G. Bagnall Ltd. A British Company thus slightly unusual to carry the American look. After the experience with the Baldwin 2-6-0’s the wheel arrangement was changed to 4-6-0 to give great stability. These locomotives had ‘bar frames’ and ‘outside cranks’ and Stephenson’s link motion. On the Cape Government Railway (CGR) they where class ‘Type B’.

In 1913 & 1914 a further 3 where ordered one from W.G Bagnell and two from Kerr Stuart. They had longer boilers and where classed as ‘Improved B’s’ They where the mainstay of the motive power on the Avontuur Branch in the Eastern Cape, although some saw service on the Hopefield Branch and in South West Africa(SWA), to help alleviate the motive power shortage after the war in 1914/15 with the German Colonial Army. Although they where relatively new the SAR released No36 &37 to work in SWA. Sydney Moir in his book lists No36 as a class NG7 4-6-0 built by Bagnell and No37 as a class NG8 built by Kerr Stuart in 1914 both to the same design and being ‘improved B’s. Going the Kerr Stuart & Co Ltd Locomotive Works List it shows two loco’s ordered in September 1914 order book numbers 1345 and 1346 and delivered to Algoa Bay. The only difference is their cylinders seem to be a half an inch smaller in diameter.

They where all scraped in 1931 except No27 which was sold to the Eastern Cape Cement Co for use on their line linking to Avontuur Branch from Chelsea.

The Class number SAR-NG7 & NG8 was put aside for these loco’s but never allocated, they operated as ‘Obsolete ex CGR’( even with the last 3 being new and being ordered by the SAR). I had assumed from the information from Leith Paxton and David Bourne’s book, Locomotives of the South African Railways, that the class number NG7 have been set aside for the Hopefield Baldwin’s but seems to be used between the Bagnell and Kerr Stuart 4-6-0’s although it doesn’t mean that they where not used as there where never officially allocated.

Size of Cylinders in inches-12 x 16 Bagnell & 11.½ x16 Kerr Stuart ,Approved H.P. Weight-140 and in Working Order Tons- 40.

Again there is not a lot information regarding these locomotives. My sources being Locomotives of the South African Railways by Leith Paxton and David Bourne, W.G Bagnall Ltd, Narrow Gauge Locomotives and Rolling Stock 1910 ( the copy I have is a Facsimile Reprint Edited By Andrew Neale) Sydney Moir mentions them in his two books Namib Narrow-Gauge and in 24inches Apart and I referred to The Kerr Stuart & Co.Ltd, Locomotive Works List compiled by Frank Jux.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Hopefield Railway

Hopefield Railway
The Little West Coast Railway

After intense lobbing to Government of the Cape Colony by the Hopefield Railway Committee the Act No 19 of 1900 was past. The Administrator of the Cape Colony at the time was Sir William Francis Butler and Prime Minister of the Cape Colony was William Philip Scheiner (1896-1900) who was followed by Sir John Gordon Sprigg (1900-1904). Bare in mind while all this was happening the Boer War was coming an end and under Sir John ended. With this the negotiations for the formation of the Union of South Africa would have been in progress. The area where the Hopefield Railway was to run was rumoured to have been infiltrated by some of General Smut’s Kommando during the Boer War. From Darling you can see Table Mountain , can you imagine what this must have been like for a man like Smuts who he himself was a Western Cape man coming from Victoria West.

The railway was built to a gauge of two feet with instructions that the construction should not exceed £135 000,for construction and equipment. The railway was built as a ‘class iv railway’ meaning that the earthworks were to be laid out so that the railway could be converted to 3’6” gauge at a later date should this be require ( the line was converted in 1926)

The surveying of the line was complete in April 1900 but it was only in August 1901 that the work began on it construction. Three locomotives where order from the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia USA . They where 2-6-0 Mogul’s and numbered 01,02 & 03. The first Rails where in place by 24th March 1902. The line ran from Kalabas Kraal via Darling and terminated in Hopefield. The line was opened on the 28th February 1903 with ’manned’ stations only at Hopefield , Darling and the inter-change at Kalabas Kraal. The locomotives where shedded at Kalabas Kraal, where a fitter was stationed.

Rolling stock for the railway comprised of two first class coaches ( four compartments), two 3rd class coaches ( five compartments and being the same length as the 1st Class coaches) and five 1st class Van-composites with seating for 12 people, these van doubled as guards vans on both passenger and goods trains. There where 20 low-sided 12ton wagons, 4 6ton 4 wheeled flat wagons,15 bogie and17 4 wheeled cattle vans, 3 pairs of timber 12tons flat wagons and 8 frames- 22.½ tons wagons along with a 6ton hand -operated crane.

In 1906 an extension via Vredenburg to Hoetjies Bay was carried out. Thus increasing the revenue and viability of the line . Passing loops where put in place between the main stations As traffic increased a further identical locomotive was ordered in 1911. These locomotives never officially can into the South African Railways which was formed in May 1910. The class number NG 7 and numbers 22.23,24 & 35 where earmarked for them but instead they where run as operating ‘obsolete’un-classed narrow gauge locomotives. In 1915 numbers 22,23 &35 went to South West Africa to assisted with the motive power shortage there after the conflict with the German Colonial Army. There being an extensive two gauge railway in that area at the time. ( Namib Narrow-Gauge by S Moir & H.T.Crittenden)

Passenger trains ran on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from Kalabas Kraal returning on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays , this arrangement did not suite the local patrons so a 8 seated petrol engine railcar was placed into service to run on the days that there was no steam train. The railcar was also used the ‘Theatre Special’ enabling local resident to attend the theatre in Cape Town. This services was instituted on the 11th September 1907. There are no drawings or photo’s of this vehicle.

The line was converted to Cape Gauge in 1926 with its rolling stock be sent to other two gauge railways in the Union of South Africa, sold or scraped.

There is very little information about this line and it locomotives my source being ,24 Inches Apart and Namib Narrow Gauge by Sydney Moir the later being co-written with H.T.Crittenden along with Locomotives of South African Railways by Leith Paxton and David Bourne. Please feel free to comment and add any information regarding this line.

Hopefield Railway

Model of 'SAR-NG7-No22'(CGR 01 Hopefield Railway) converted from a Bachman On30 Baldwin Mogal by Terence Rowe.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Model Coaches and Wagons of the Pankop Branch

Pankop Branch Rolling Stock, made and modelled by Bruce Green of Inscale Models, They are On30 scale.

Short Flat car using 16' Koppal underframe

SAR-NG564 Short open wagon on 16' Koppal underframe.

SAR-NG1050 Class V-2 Guards Van.Still running on the Apple Express- Avontuur Branch. Using a Koppal underframe and known as 'Mini Loaf'.

Two compartments with toilet, bogie coach, the underframe for this coaches was made by Koppal.

Photographs by Bruce Green.

Breaking News-train crash



25 people have been injured and two killed as a train derails at Bosman Street Station. The rail company involved is the heritage rail operator Rovos Rail.

Railwaymen Unsung Hero's

I have just posted this on the sar-l yahoo forum but felt I should share it in my blog as well.

Unsung Railwaymen

As we go along in life we met people who have a profound effect on us, the way we do or look at things, the attitude we develop and the values we adopt. Quite often these people never know what effect they have had.

One such person in my life and I’m sure many young apprentice fitters on the South African Railways ,was a gentleman we called ’Uncle Eddie’- Eddie Klein. When I started as an apprentice fitter in 1980 and was placed out of the apprentice school for the first time to work along side an artisan I was place in the hands of ’Uncle Eddie’ in the ’test room’ at ERS Salt River . He was coming to the end of his time with the railways having started himself as an apprentice in 1933. In those days the trade was call a greater mechanic, basically 5 trades in one - fitter, machinist (turner),boilermaker, welder and blacksmith. Buy the time I worked under him he was working as a fitter having been on steam and coming across to electrical traction in the late 1960’s

This man was different to all others I meet and worked under/along side on the railway or anywhere else I have work. He was from the 'old school', although we never called him ‘Sir or Mr Klein’ we never just used his first name it was always ‘Uncle Eddie’ ( and not Oom as the Afrikaaner used to show respect)
He drove in everyday, never late in his Ford Cortina , immaculate, you know the one with the peace sign tail lights. He always wore grey flannel trousers with a white shirt, jacket and tie. Once changed he wore a clean pair of overalls every day, the dungarees type, with a shirt and tie and a khaki dust coat. His safety boats where always clean ( had seen him in the locker room at the end of the day giving them a clean)

He hated ‘piece work’ as he felt it encouraged shoddy work as was a false economy , he would say do the job properly ,once, and the job/work will last. He scorned the term ’preventive maintenance’ and said only an accountant could come up with such a concept. The idea of replacing something before it had broke because it had ‘done it time’ would getting him going.

He had great patience with us young apprentices, showing us how do each thing properly but also not allowing us to get off lightly, it had to be right or start again for exsample when lapping in two brass surfaces to get a dry seal in a Westinghouse brake valve, namely the QSA Valve ( Quick Service Application Valve- provided simultaneous brake application though the train using vacuum brakes) He used to say there are not two options only one ‘right’.

His tools where always kept in their right place in his tool cupboard and spotless. The tools in his tool box where kept in leather tool rolls and again always where they should be. His view was if you spent the time correctly placing and replacing things it would save time in the long run. The test room where he work was always neat and clean. Everything had its place, he had shelves with all the brake valve spares in neatly marked boxes, he had spares that even the store did not have. He had a little book which listed where everything was or where you could get it.

In side his tool cupboard door he had a picture of the Queen Mum , I think it had something to do with the Royal Train and visit in 1947 but I never asked and why would an 18 year old. I must say I now wish I had as it would I’m sure made another story to fill these pages.

One of the ’Uncle Eddies’ statements that has always stayed with me was, ’if a boss comes along and asks whose work is this never hesitate to stepped forward and claim responsibility as it should be at a quality or level for the boss to be paying a compliment’ quite something in our now disposable world.

He retired in the early 1980’s , I have no idea what happened to him but what a man. ‘To the talent of Uncle Eddie‘.

SAR-Handbook on the Steam Locomotive

Awhile back I acquired the South African Railways Handbook on the Steam Locomotive for Enginemen and Running Shed Staff 1956. This book is a gem. The information is how it really is. It was issued to Drivers, Firemen, and as it says Running Shed Staff, it was called the ‘red book’ (the cover is red) There is the same for Diesel and Electric Traction.
Anyway I am part of another forum for South African Railways called sar-L@yahoogroups.com , this is a very active forum with some very prominent railway authors, ex- railwaymen,railway photogaphers and even my Uncle Bill (ex-railwayman). The content is of a high standard and is at times like a living history lesson. Although I was a railwayman for 9 years the knowledge and experience in this group is untold but everyone is helpful and friendly, willing to share knowledge and experiences. One of the resent topics to come up in this forum is this book ,which had come up on E-Bay and sold for £36.
One of the forum shared a link http://www.martynba ne.co.uk/ sar-manual/ index.html which is basically this book and is worth a read and a very valuable reference book.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

This is the Wildebeest signing in for the first time, my blog is mainly about South African Railways, namely the two foot narrow gauge but every now and then I will stray to the 3’6’’ gauge system in South Africa. For those who don’t know at it height the railways in South Africa had some 20 000 miles (plus) 3’6” or Cape Gauge as it is known and some 460 miles of 2 foot gauge .

Railways started in South Africa in 1859 first in Durban , Natal Colony and the a few months later in Cape Town, Cape Colony. These first two railways where 4’8.1/2” but with the topography it was changed to 3’6” as it was found to be far more cost effective at this gauge. Every now and then reference will be made to South West Africa ( now known as Namibia and before 1915 known as Deutsh Sud-Wes Afrika)

Two Foot Gauge came to South Africa at the time of the Boer War , in 1899 the Director of Army Contracts for the British War Office ordered two locomotives from Kerr Stuart to be used by the Royal Engineers in their stores depot. These loco’s went on to be used the following year in the construction of a line from Simmer and Jack’s siding near Germiston ( ‘Transvaal Colony ‘ was the Zuid Afrikaansche Repubiek) to a siege camp some 3.5km along the Bezuidenhout Valley. At the end of the War the Loco’s and rolling stock where bought by a farmer who constructed what is most properly the first independent ‘narrow gauge two foot gauge railway’ in South Africa It ran from Pienaars River ( on the mainline from Pretoria to Pietersburg ) to Pankop some 15km this became known as the Pankop Railway or the Settlers branch the name it acquired when The Central South African Railway took it over. It was a pioneer of the two foot gauge as this branch used to see what could be achieved by utilising this gauge. It was re-gauged two 3”6’ in 1923.

There is not a lot of documentation or photographic evidence to do with the Pankop Railway, Sydney Moir’s book '24 Inches Apart' is about the best it gets, there is reference to the line in Leith Paxton and David Bourne‘s book 'Locomotives of the South African Railways'. Bruce Green of ‘Inscale Models’ is the living oracle regarding this line and in my case most things South African narrow gauge SAR-NG. For
those interested in modelling SAR-Ng there is a Yahoo forum called:-
SA-ng@yahoogroups.com , this is a small band of modellers who model or follow SAR-NG mainly in 7mm or 16mm scale.

I will be adding this to blog as and when , please feel free to coment and contribute as it goes along . I will be discussing the past and the present , what is on my work bench, basically what am I modelling and any latest topic regarding relavent narrow gauge subjects. I will also be looking at and discussing restoration projects, like the one on the Welsh Highland Railway to restore an NG15 www.ng15-134.co.uk there is a forum connected to this as well GROUPNG15-@yahoogroups.com . Along with this I will also be following where I can the restoration of Pete Waterman’s NGG16 at his work shops in Crewe.
At present an other project I’m working on is compiling a list of all SAR-NG loco’s in the UK, there where abouts and their condition.