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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.

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