The International Steam Pages

Those were the days... Pakis Baru Sugar Mill

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Pakis Baru closed at the end of the 1999 season, since when there have been stories of plans to relocate to Sumatra and more recently to re-open on the original site. The mill itself is totally modern, the steam fleet was anything but although it has lost two of its stars which have been sold at 'top dollar' to a private railway in the UK.

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My first visit to Pakis was on 24th May 1979, Despite being owned by an Indonesian army co-operative, the mill was extremely welcoming then and on every subsequent visit. I was given a ride on OK 0-4-2T #2 down to Tayu and back on a pre-season test run.

Although virtually all cane came by road (that which did not was diesel hauled), there were interesting workings to photograph. #2 took out a mud train on the east line on 10th August 1988 - the scene was basically unchanged from 50 or 60 years earlier.

I would happily have packed any of the locomotives and taken them home, but OK 0-4-0T #1 seen here on 21st August 1986 would probably have been at the top of my list. Someone else obviously felt the same because he paid USD 100,000 just to get it to the mill gate and now it runs looking like something out of Disneyland on a private UK narrow gauge railway.

There were two standard larger OK 0-4-2T here, #3 was photographed on 22nd August 1996.

Their principal job was taking road deliveries round the front of the mill, trains ran more or less every 30 minutes or so all day and our Kijang roof made for a great vantage point for #3 on 12th August 1992.

The other was #4 and this close up taken on 24th August 1996 gives some idea of the immaculate condition they were maintained in.

The other really classy locomotive here was OK 0-4-4-0T #5, photographed on 8th August 1984. I will leave it to my readers to decide whether it look better here in its natural environment or as currently 'restored' in the UK. 

As far as power was concerned, the Mallet seemed on a par with #3 and #4. Here it runs round the front of the mill during the last year of operation on 9th August 1999.

It is something of a mystery as to how and why Hanomag 0-8-0T #6 acquired its smoke deflectors, seen here on 21st August 1986. They cannot have been much use at the kind of speeds built up on its short run. 

 #6 runs along the roadside on a beautiful early morning, 21st July 1996.

Very late in the day, the mill decided to restore the second Hanomag 0-8-0T, #7 which had been no more than a kit of parts for some 30 years (its boiler on #6). I photographed it in the cane yard during its first year back in action on 24th August 1996. This time they left the smoke deflectors off!

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

Rob Dickinson