The International Steam Pages


Those were the days... Kebonagung Sugar Mill

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Kebonagung is a large modern mill, sister to Trangkil, which kept its field lines more or less intact until the end of the 1999 season. "Save the Best for Last", this was quite simply by far the best mill in Java for varied action photography... In fact all that was missing was the possibility of silhouette shots at sunset as the mountains to the west were not only too close but frequently cloud covered. The city council considered the trains antiquated and they had to go, the fact that their passing will have led to even more clogged up traffic would have been totally lost on them. 


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Virtually all movement out from the mill (with the exception of a few lightly used lines to the south-west) had to cross the Malang - Blitar main line. Henschel 0-8-0T #6 goes out on the south lines to collect a train on 9th July 1997.

Kebonagung power parade as OK 0-8-0Ts #10, 2 and 5 head for the fields to collect their trains on Independence Day, 17th August 1996.

Classic traction! #5 waits for the bullocks to assemble its train, 18th August 1996.

This was the mill's mud train with OK 0-8-0T #3 on 13th August 1992 on the south-west lines. Soon afterwards this operation finished and the mud was trucked out.

OK 0-10-0 #7 was limited to lines nearest the mill on the east side of the system. On 13th August 1986, it waits on the turning triangle at Tutut while the following #5 takes empties on the curve to the former Sempalwadak system - where #7 was delivered many years ago. 

With #7 effectively limited to the Buring line which ended on the outskirts of ever spreading Malang, it wasn't surprising that the mill decided not to fund expensive firebox repairs. Before it was retired, #7 brings an afternoon train gently down to the Tutut triangle on 21st August 1988.

There were some notable bridges on the system as rivers had cut deep gorges in the soft volcanic rock in the area. What I think was the most impressive was that at Tanjung Sari behind Bululawang near Krebet sugar mill. #10 takes a train across it on 6th August 1995.

The south-eastern part of the system was taken over when Sempalwadak mill closed many years ago. Nothing remained of that mill except for a few sidings where road cane used to be trans-shipped. OK 0-8-0T #9 takes out a train load on the morning of 9th August 1994.

Henschel 0-8-0T #4 roars through Tutut on 25th August 1991. Whether it was the locomotive or its regular driver or both, this was by far the most satisfying member of the fleet soundwise.

My favourite spot on my favourite mill system was Bumiayu village where the line ran straight down the middle of the main street and on to a narrow bridge. Although it is 15th August 1990 and Independence Day two days away, the decorations are out for #9.

At sunset on Independence Day, 17th August 1996, #5 waits for clearance at the start of the village. The sound and light show as trains went through here in the half light was an unforgettable experience for anyone lucky enough to have been there at the right time...

This one is a video clip from my guest video page, which you may have experienced already. Everything came together one wonderful evening in the village of Bumiayu on the outskirts of Malang in East Java when two trains came in for Kebonagung mill within a few minutes of each other in the early evening in August 1997. Who says lightning never strikes twice? I recommend turning up the sound to maximum and if you never went to Java to see sugar steam in the 20th century then eat your heart out when you see and hear this. My tour groups had gone home and I could relax and enjoy the splendour all on my own....


Click here for the 'Those were the days' index page.


Rob Dickinson

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