The International Steam Pages

Surviving Railway Cranes in Africa

This is just one of a series of pages covering surviving Railway Cranes across the world. Click here for the Index.

Chris Capewell (chriscapewell AT has provided the following data, he would greatly appreciate additions, corrections and confirmation for data with a yellow background.

We would welcome more pictures of cranes in this list which can be used to illustrate the article, as links are notoriously ephemeral.

(16th Oct 11)
Burkina Faso
Congo (DR)
(3rd Sep 13)
(22nd Feb 12)
(16th Oct 11)
(22nd Oct 15)
(28th Nov 12)
(4th Jan 17)
Sierra Leone
South Africa
(18th Jun 17)
South Sudan
(4th Nov 11)
(8th Dec 12)
(16th Oct 11)
(16th Oct 11)
(2nd Nov 11)
(6th Mar 17)


  • Booth = Joseph Booth & Bros., Leeds, UK
  • Cecchetti = Officine Cecchetti, Civitanova Marche, Italy
  • CS = Cowans Sheldon and Co, Ltd., Carlisle, UK
  • D-G = Demag - Gottwald, Düsseldorf, Germany
  • Ellis = H. and J. Ellis, Salford, UK
  • Figee = Gebr. Figee, Haarlem, Netherlands
  • Grafton  = Grafton Cranes Ltd., Bedford, UK
  • Milano = Officine Meccaniche Milano, Italy
  • R&R = Ransomes and Rapier, Ipswich, UK
  • Wilson = John Wilson & Co, Liverpool and Birkenhead, UK
  • B&MR = Beira and Mashonaland Railway
  • BR = Benguela Railway
  • CGR= Cape Government Railways
  • EAR = East African Railways
  • EARH = East African Railways and Harbours
  • ESR = Egyptian State Railway
  • KUR = Kenya and Uganda Railway
  • MR = Malawi Railways
  • NGR = Natal Government Railway
  • NR = Nigerian Railways or Nyasaland Railways (according to context)
  • NRC = Nigerian Railway Corporation
  • NRZ = National Railways of Zimbabwe
  • RR = Rhodesia Railways
  • SAR = South African Railways
  • SLDC = Sierra Leone Development Co
  • TR = Tanganyika Railways
  • ZR = Zambian Railways
  • MoS = Ministry of Supply
Each entry is arranged as follows after the country/location:
Number Railway Gauge Diesel, Electric
and, Steam
Capacity in tons Wheels Works Number Comments

Huambo Works

BR  3'6" S 36T 4RB CS 9838/1952 Order E529/1951, wood fired, dumped, 2008; it may have since been cut up.

Benin (added 15th October 2011)

Allada Station

OCBN MG H 4W Present in 2011

This 1999 photograph is courtesy of Thomas Kautzor:

Burkina Faso
Bobo Dioulasso Works

MoS MG S 16T 4+4W  R&R GG2123/1946 Sold as surplus post WW2. Dumped oou by 2006

This picture is courtesy of Thomas Kautzor:

Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) (added 3rd September 2013)

A British built steam crane is preserved at Moba on the shores of Lake Tanganyika (7° 1' 49.78" S 29° 45' 59.43" E)

Egypt (updated 22nd February 2012)

Despite large orders for modern diesel cranes in the 1990s it is possible that some steam breakdown cranes might still be in use. One ESR crane survives in preservation, in Israel.

Simon Colbeck has sent this 1998 picture of an ancient crane at the Aswan Lower Dam. Expert opinion eventually suggested it was be a Ransomes and Rapier B3443/1904 when the dam height was raised fro the second time. However a February 2012 report stated it had been scrapped and replaced with a more modern device.

Eritrea (updated 15th October 2011)

Asmara Workshops

8.000 950mm H 4W Milano 1912 Derelict
GRU 8.001 950mm H 5T 4W Cecchetti 1938 In use 2010


GRU 8.002 950mm H 5T 4W Cecchetti 1938 Derelict

These pictures of 8.002 (left, February 2010) and 8.000 (right, January 2008) are courtesy of Thomas Kautzor:

These pictures of 8.001 in February 2010 are courtesy of Thomas Kautzor:


It is believed that no steam cranes survive, any information to the contrary would be very welcome.


1164 from the workshops to the railway museum (14th February 2012) and repainted (22nd October 2015),
Nairobi Workshops

1129  EAR MG S 76T 6-8-6RB  R&R G6383/1955 Hydraulic relieving bogies, articulated jib foot. Overturned in late 1990s and in 2003 put aside, damaged and dismantled at Central Workshops, Nairobi, used for spares.
1013 KUR H to D 15T 6-4W CS 4582/1927 Operational 2005, Crown Agents for Kenya Uganda Railway to East African Railways. Diesel conversion 1955, later de-rated from 20 ton to 15 ton, jib replaced / lengthened in 1955.

This is John Ashworth's picture of 1013

Nairobi Railway Museum

1106 EARH MG S 2T 4W. Grafton /mid 1920s To be refurbished by the Steam Restoration Team Volunteers
1164 TR MG S 25T 6-4W R&R C6813-4/1926 Crown Agents for Tanganyika Railways, as no. 2962 to EAR, to be refurbished by the Steam Restoration Team Volunteers

This is John Ashworth's picture of 1164 in the works shops, it is now in the museum where it is seen outside (14th February 2012) and after repainting (Geoff Warren picture, 22nd October 2015)

This is John Ashworth's picture of 1106

Nairobi Depot

1130 EAR  MG S to D  76T 6-8-6RB R&R G6383/1955 Hydraulic relieving bogies, articulated jib foot. Converted to diesel power in 1993, operational

This is John Ashworth's picture of 1130



SG D 150T 6+6W CS 253/1962  Grangesbergbulaget for Lamco, Liberia, dumped, stripped 2010



NR to MR 3'6" S to D 45T 4-8-4RB  CS 10050/1954 Converted  to diesel under CS 468/67, operational 2008.

This 1997 picture is courtesy of Eddie Barnes (added 28th November 2012).



SG H 4W Derelict

This picture is courtesy of Thomas Kautzor:


45 SAR 3'6" S 36T 2-6-2W Cravens.11196B+11197+10202/1921


Lagos, Ebute Metta Depot/ Workshops

NR 3'6" S ?3T 4W Grafton  Coaling Grab, Refurbished by Indian engineers, during the 1980s.. Noted 2003, as 'laid aside'.
2 NRC 3'6" S 40T 4-8-4RB R&R GH7232/1953 via Crown Agents  oou by 2010
NRC 3'6" S 40T 4-8-4RB R&R GJ4291/1956 via Crown Agents  oou by 2010
4 NRC 3'6" S 40T 4-8-4RB R&R GJ6888/1959 via Crown Agents  oou by 2010, marked as reserved for the Railway Museum

This picture of one of the R&R cranes is courtesy of Thomas Kautzor:


At Guinguinéo shed is this old hand crane, closer access is impossible. This is Thomas Kautzor's November 2016 picture (4th January 2017):

Port de Saint Louis

Not a railway crane, but thanks to Thomas Kautzor for pointing out the survival of a fixed steam crane of considerable vintage (21st June 2016):

Chris Capewell adds 7th July 2016):

Bon et Lustrement, 1883, 20 tonne capacity; note the Galle chain ( in lieu of chain or steel rope )
This crane arrived in parts and was assembled in 1883 by two soldiers ( Peyssoneaux and Tellier) whose names are still visible, etched into the metal of the crane.

These pictures are courtesy of Thomas Kautzor (21st December 2016):

Sierra Leone

SLDC 3’6” S to D ?5T 4W TSSR ?11338?/1929

South Africa (updated 18th June 2017 with several pictures / new entries as noted )

Bloemfontein, Sandstone Heritage Trust

187 SAR 3’6” S 10T 8W Grafton 2812/1946? Type 912E  Stored at TFR shed

This is 187 in April 2011 (photograph by Thomas Kautzor):

Bloemfontein, TFR shed

CGR to SAR 3’6” H 5T CS 1714/1890

This is the hand crane in April 2011 (photograph by Thomas Kautzor):

Sandstone Estates

?SAR 3’6” H ?T 4W Figee 349/1891
George, Outeniqua Transnet Transport Museum

374  SAR 3’6” H (<=3T) 4W H&J Ellis, Machester
376 SAR 3’6” H 6T 4W CS 1780/1892
?10 BSA Co to SAR? 3’6” H 10T 4+4W RR 3988/ca 1907 BSA Co = British South America Co.
551 SAR 3’6” S 36T 2-6-2W CS ?/1950  possibly 9487

This is the RR hand crane (Chris Capewell pictures, added 18th June 2017):

This is the Ellis hand crane, picture courtesy of Chris Capewell, added 18th June 2017

This is the CS hand crane, picture courtesy of Chris Capewell, added 18th June 2017

This is the CS steam crane, picture courtesy of Chris Capewell, added 18th June 2017 
Umgeni Steam Railway, Inchanga, (Midway between Durban and Pietermaritzburg)

48 SAR 3'6" S 36T 2-6-2W Cravens.11196B+11197+10202/1921

This is 48 in May 2010:
Klerksdorp North West Transport Museum

577 SAR 3'6" S 60T 4+4W CS 354/1965 tendered for sale 7/2007 at Klerksdorp; provisionally allocated to NWTM, in store in the old goods shed  - present ownership not known

This is Chris Capewell's picture (added 18th June 2017)
Koedespoort Works, Pretoria

81 SAR 3'6" S 10/20T 4+4W CS 6101/1937 Plinthed next to the gate 
Reefsteamers, Germiston

96  SAR  3'6" S 36T 2-6-2W Booth 4317/1936  usable

These are April 2012 photographs by Thomas Kautzor:

578 SAR 3’6” S 60T 4+4W CS 355/1965 Owned by Sandstone

These are April 2012 photographs by Thomas Kautzor:

Witbank (new entry 3rd September 2013)

SAR  3'6" H ?T 4W Figee 501/1897 Preserved at station
108 SAR 3'6" H 4+3W "Manchester 1897" Preserved at shed, new entry 3rd September 2013

This is a April 2012 of the crane at the shed photograph by Thomas Kautzor:

Touws River


119  SAR  3'6" 10T 6W CS 1841/1892
Natal Railway Museum, Hilton, Pietermaritzburg, Kwazulu-Natal

184 SAR S 36T 2-6-2W CS 6317/1937 

This is 184 at Hilton in April 2010 (photograph by Thomas Kautzor):
Cape Town, Woodhead Dam, Table Mountain

3'6" S ?2T 4W Wilson c.1895? Works contractor

ROVOS Rail, Capital Park (added 18th June 2017)

557 SAR 3'6" S 36T 2-6-1W CS 9491 94651

SANRASM, Krugersdorp

702  SAR  3'6" S ?5T 4W Grafton  Probably cut up; or moved to Germiston?

The following were tendered for sale in 7/2007, their ultimate fate is not known, John Middleton has told us a 36T CS crane was bought by Rovos Rail.:(see entry above, 18th June 2017)

193  SAR 3'6" S 36T 2-6-2W CS ?/1946 at Danskraal
194 SAR 3'6" S 36T 2-6-2W CS possibly 8769/1946 or 8817/1946  'Steam in Action' bidding for it off Reclam; the scrapping firm

This SAR hand crane and steam crane 50 (CS, 4556/1927. 4+4W, 60T) at Millsite in April 2010 are safe for the time being...  (photographs by Thomas Kautzor): Below is Chris Capewells' 2017 picture of 50, added 18th June 2017

CGR to SAR 3'6" H ?5T 4W CS 1343?/?188? at Danskraal
50 SAR 3'6" S 60T 4+4W CS 4556/1927

Added 18th June 2017

? NGR to SAR 3'6" H ?2T 4W RR ??/ca 1896 Axles boxes - Beuthers Co. 1886. no jib

South Sudan (added 4th November 2011)

Juba, old port area, near the River Nile

Sudan Government SG S 5T 4W Grafton (2993/1961?) Derelict. no boiler

These are Nick Nick McWilliam's 2007 photographs

Sudan (updated with data 8th December 2012)

It is possible that dumped steam breakdown cranes may still exist.

An old crane near the Sudan Railways depot and riverboats at Karima is shown here (December 2011 picture) - It will be one of two known to have been supplied.

SR 3'6" H (ex  S) 10T 8W fixed R&R B2888/1903 Similar to Cape Government Railway types

Togo (added 16th October 2011)


CFT SG1 MG H 4W Derelict

This is Thomas Kautzor's photograph from December 2007:

Uganda (added 16th October 2011)


MG H 6W Derelict

This is Thomas Kautzor's photograph from May 2011

Zambia (pictures added 2nd November 2011)
Livingstone Museum

ZR109  RR S 35T 2-6-2W CS 9470/1951

These are Elmar Pfannerstal's pictures from July 2011:

Zimbabwe (updated 8th January 2013 with confirmation of Bulawayo's MXU 100 036 continued activity and 6th March 2017 with news of one of them working in February 2017)
Bulawayo Museum

14 B&M 3'6" S 7T 4W Booth ?/1913 Later RR 14
20 B&M  3'6" S 25T 6-4W Booth 3456/1922 Later RR 20, later NRZ no. MXU 100 007
Crane 65 RR 3'6" S 25T 2-6-2W R&R D2871/1930 Later NRZ no. MXU 100 010, named ‘PAUL’

This is 20 in August 2006 (photograph by Thomas Kautzor),:


NRZ (At least one still operational with the Grafton reported at work at Bulawayo, in 2011,

RR 3'6" S 10T 6W Grafton 2147/27 Bulawayo Workshops
MXU 100 023 RR 3'6" S 35T 2-6-2W CS 9469/1951 Lochinvar, reported as possibly converted to diesel power in late 1980’s
MXU 100 036 RR 3'6" S 50T 6+6W D-G 1123/1962
MXU 100 037 RR 3'6" S 50T 6+6W D-G 11??/1962

This is MXU 100 036 at Bulawayo in August 2006 (photograph by Thomas Kautzor), this was the one reported active at the depot in December 2012 (8th January 2013) one possibly this was known to have been active in February 2017.


Thanks to: P.F.Bagshawe, Richard Awde, Colin Chambers, Chris West, Ted Knotwell, Thomas Kautzor, John Middleton, Dave Rind, Piet Conradie, Graham Roberts and Geoff Cooke.

Rob Dickinson