The International Steam Pages


On Shed at Babanusa, Sudan, 1977

Tony Potterton has sent some pictures taken on shed at Babanusa in the south of the country. By way of introduction he writes about how he came to get this photo opportunity:

These pictures are scans of Kodachromes taken in December 1977 when I was teaching in Sudan. I had taken the train from Rabak (near Kosti) to Nyala for a few days walking in the Jebel Mara mountains. That journey was, as I remember, diesel-hauled. My main memories are of riding on the roof and going through several huge clouds of locusts. People were catching them, tearing off the legs and eating them raw. On the return I got off in Babanusa to take the train down to Wau in the South. This did involve a four-day wait at the station along with a few hundred other people. The pictures were taken at that time (on 2nd December).

When the train was eventually assembled it was the late afternoon and there was still no information about when it would leave. The best option seemed to be to get on and secure a seat so a rather uncomfortable night was spent in a hot, smelly compartment. Part of the discomfort was explained at dawn as it became apparent that we were covered in cockroaches. We left some time on the 5th December and arrived in Wau at 11.00 pm on the 6th.

One of my memories of this steam-hauled journey (presumably pulled by the loco in steam in the pictures) was being confronted by a drunken soldier who pointed his ancient .303 at me for some time. The other is that when we approached Wau there must be some slight incline (it is a very flat area of the world) and we ground to a halt. We slipped backwards for some distance and tried again, only just making it on the third attempt.

I wish I could remember more. Anyway I hope the pictures are of interest. Most of the locos appear to be oil-fired 4-6-2s with sections of the cabs removed, presumably to make operating them in very high temperatures a little more bearable.

(At least six steam locomotives were present, at least 5 (and probably the sixth too) are the 2xx series Pacifics, 16 of which were built before WW2 (220-235) and 35 during it for the War Department (236-270). The only identifiable one is 265, the two types had only minor differences, the earlier batch was built by Kitsons and North British, the later one only by the latter.

Most likely 265 was the only locomotive in steam as it moves a class mate out of the shed. There would have been a stationary boiler in use here judging from the leaky team line. It would have been needed to provide steam to light up the oil burners..RD)


Rob Dickinson

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