The International Steam Pages

The Industrial Railways of Malaya

The late Peter Hodge was based at the New Zealand High Commission in Kuala Lumpur for some 3 years from early 1969. I am very grateful to the New Zealand Railway and Locomotive Society for passing this part of his photographic collection to me which I am now privileged to share with fellow enthusiasts. I would also like to thank John Browning for scanning Peter's slides and John Benson for allowing me to use some of his own extensive collection which dates from the same period while he was based with the British Army in Singapore and providing the notes from which the captions have been produced, John Browning also providing some valuable guidance.

The industrial railways of Malaya were known only to a very small number of enthusiasts, not least because with a few exceptions they were long dieselised. John Benson and Peter Hodge between them visited a fair number of locations between 1969 and 1972, a time when they were in steep decline. They found a scene dominated by three British manufacturers, Motor Rail, Ruston and Hornsby and Hunslet. Motor Rail (with the Simplex trade name) specialised in chain driven locomotives while many of the Hunslets are badged as Hudson Hunslet as agents Robert Hudson had a near monopoly of sales.

By no means should this be considered to offer a comprehensive coverage, it is merely a snapshot of what was known have to survived at the time, in particular there were unvisited logging railways in Sabah (of course like Sarawak not part of 'Malaya') which received Motor Rail products in the 1950s and 1960s.

Peter's slides were not well protected against the ravages of time, many had fungal attack and scratches and all were dusty to varying degrees, some of the colours were no longer true and many were taken under a high tropical sun. As such, the only safe option was to clean and adjust them digitally and with time at a premium and a large quantity of images, this has required some brutal 'Photoshopping' particularly of the sky areas. I make no apology for this, let the trains (and Peter's camera) speak for themselves.

Rob Dickinson