The International Steam Pages

Those were the days... Gempol Sugar Mill

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Gempol was the nearest mill to Cirebon - too close as its cane fields disappeared under housing in the early 1990s. It closed after the 1994 season and some of its locomotives were lucky enough to pass to other mills in the area. The rest were scrapped when the mill was demolished...:

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My first visit to Gempol was on 26th April 1977 when the season was just about to start. Henschel 0-6-0T #10 looked immaculate (as did all the locomotives) with its well polished brassware.   .

On 15th June 1978, a large part of the fleet was lined up outside the shed in the early morning before starting work.

That day was the only one on which I ever saw small OK 0-8-0T #4 at work, taking out small pieces of cane which would be planted for the following year's crop. The mountain is again Gunung Cireme which dominates the landscape round Cirebon. 

The most interesting locomotive at Gempol was this petrol/oil engine which probably dated from around World War 1. When it was turned over to start, there was generally a huge explosion. It was working what I suspect were the mill's molasses tankers on 3rd August 1988, it was an act of total vandalism to scrap such an historic item.

OK 0-8-0T #8 heads out with the mill's ash train on 3rd August 1988. I was leading a small group for Railway Travel and Photography - with just four customers it must have been hopelessly uneconomic and not so long afterwards RTP went bust much like Globe Steam some 15 years later. 

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Rob Dickinson