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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.

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