The International Steam Pages

Those were the days... Banjaratma Sugar Mill

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Banjaratma was the first mill in Central Java (excluding Ketanggugan Barat which was only a collecting point). It was never an easy mill for photography as there were few roads into the fields and with activity largely nocturnal, I saw loaded cane trains here on just one visit. The mill was closed at the end of the 1997 season and has subsequently been largely demolished and all the locomotives scrapped:

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My first visit to Banjaratma was on 12th June 1978. The nearest volcano was now Gunung Slamet, the second largest in Java - it was to be another 20 years before I found the time to climb it. I rode out on a sand train seen below and later on my return just before sunset I passed OK 0-8-0T with its near perfect backdrop.

Subsequently, I got quite used to see wagons used to carry ash and mud out from the mill, but I never did discover quite why we had collected a load of river sand - presumably it was needed for a construction project. Having left with impossibly high light just after lunch, the return journey, in part, was in glorious late afternoon sunset...

Banjaratma had a couple of VIW 0-6-0T which were kept busier than many of the others. #6 was on the mud train in late July 1993.

Banjaratma's field lines were long and steam locomotives did not always return in the middle of the day - the crews must have worked very long shifts albeit with extended periods of total inactivity; during the same visit, #2 heads out with ample reserves of bagasse.

I was advised that trains were frequently coming in very late (after dawn) on 26th July 1996 and even though I was staying far away in Cirebon, I got up at 04.00 to drive back next morning. I was rewarded with two loaded cane trains, this is OK 0-8-0T #5 departing from a mid-journey rest just before dawn. Progress was slow and by the time we next saw the train near a road I had been overtaken by a severe tummy bug and the effort needed to photograph the train again was considerable. 

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Rob Dickinson