The International Steam Pages


Those were the days... Semboro Sugar Mill

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Semboro was another another large mill which was modernised in the 1970s. However, it kept its steam fleet going despite the arrival of diesels and only in the 1990s did steam activity decline. With significant amounts of double track, in its heyday, it was one of the busiest narrow gauge steam systems in the world.


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I came to Semboro in June 1978 but the season started late that year and nothing was moving. I had a further visit on 29th May 1979 when the whole family was treated to a ride round the fields. I doubt the two youngest members can remember the occasion!

I had to be careful in my choice of image to represent the fireless locomotives at Semboro as they are still active. However, I haven't seen them on a bagasse train for many years as there is no longer any need to deliver it to the shed. OK 0-6-0F #3 does the business on 1st August 1984. 

Riding out with my tour group on the double track we met OK 0-4-4-0T #15 coming in at speed with a loaded train. 

By 'riding out' I meant that we were using one of the mill's passenger coaches to tour the system, a trip which is still possible today although it won't have a DB 0-4-4-0T Mallet like #28 on the front.

The 1986 visit produced nothing much photographically but by 23rd August 1988 it was high time to get a record of the mill's cape gauge locomotive, OK 0-6-0T #1. This is seen getting ready to take a set of molasses tankers to the main line connection at Tanggul. By this time it was the last such steam working in the Javan sugar mills.

I was back on Independence Day, 17th August 1990. OK 0-4-4-0T #17 was photographed returning with the empties from a mud train.

As it turned out, 19th August 1992 was a quiet day at the mill. We tracked down 'modern' Jung 0-6-0T #29 and followed it back to the mill in the late afternoon. This is the mill's steam locomotive of choice for charter trains today.

The numerous OK 0-4-2Ts had precious little work to do in later years. #11 brings in a train load of temporary track on 23rd August 1992, it and the others were taken out of service at the end of this season.


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


Rob Dickinson

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