The International Steam Pages
More Preserved Steam in Mauritius
Torsten Schneider reports:
I visited all locomotives mentioned in James’ report, and all but 5 of the 7 in the O&K list.
Beau Champ: The inscriptions on the locomotives displayed outside are: “204“, “Regina“, and “Fletcher Jennings, 190 L.Engineers 1883, Whitehaven“.
(James adds: The Fletcher Jennings works plate on 204 "Regina", the loco outside with the non-original boiler, actually belongs on 190 "Hariette", the loco in the shed. Presumably they got swapped over somewhere during their long lives! "Regina" is actually a Lowca Engineering loco, like the loco at Marine & Tar. There isn't a great deal of difference as Lowca Engineering took over the Fletcher Jennings business between the dates the two locos were built, Lowca being the name of the town where the factory was. Since my 2005 visit I've also ascertained that the Marine & Tar locomotive definitely went there from Beau Champ and was bought for use as a boiler for making the tar. The bunker was removed to adapt it for its new life. There was a whole series of these locos built for Beau Champ which started out life as 0-4-2 tender engines and were rebuilt as tank locos in Mauritius. Their "running" numbers at Beau Champ were the FJ/Lowca works numbers.)
Bel Air: O&K 12774/1936 (750 mm, not in James’ report) is exhibited in the sugar estate on a plinth as no. 1058. It took some time to convince the guard to let me take a picture. I have no idea about the equipment inside the mill. It can be visited by organised tour (White Sands Tours).
Casela Bird Park: not only O&K 12791/1936 (not in O&K list, but according to http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/org/murray/okpres.htm, no manufacturer’s plates left) is property of nearby Médine sugar mill, but the whole park is.
Highlands: O&K 11717/1928 (762 mm) was moved in early 2006 a few kilometres from its rather photogenic position in front of the closed sugar mill to a road junction at the new Cybercity business complex. The plinth is still there.
Domaine Les Pailles, near Port Louis: the “old locomotive still operating in the park“ as described in several guide books proved to be a modern 600 mm gauge diesel named “Lady Alice“ vaguely resembling a steam locomotive. In the station building there are several pictures of steam trains (with double-decker coaches) of the Mauritius Government Railway, closed in 1964. A single-deck passenger coach with a platform at one end, and in urgent need of restoration, can be seen at Mahébourg museum.
St.Félix: an unidentified O&K, marked as no. 606, must have been moved to its present position very recently, because it was not there during James' visit in 2005. I contacted Jens Merte, the author of the O&K list, to find out more.
La Vanille Crocodile Park: a Ruston & Hornsby diesel is on display in near-by. This must be one of the last locomotives operating on the island. It was withdrawn in 1981 at Savannah sugar mill, the year the last sugar line on Mauritius closed.
I found short sections of line still in place at Beau Séjour (closed long ago, only the chimney is left, 762 mm), Britannia (closed in 2002, 762 mm), Mon Loisir (to close in 2007, 762 mm), and Riche-en-Eau (part of F.U.E.L., just closed after the 2006 harvest, 600 mm). Also, several mills have mobile machines to take cane samples from incoming trucks, and moving on short sections of about 1450 mm and 2300 mm gauges, operated by overhead electricity. I also went to Bel Ombre (partly pulled down), Highlands (closed), Médine, Rose Belle (closed, almost empty), St.Antoine (Goodlands), Savannah, and Union Flacq (F.U.E.L.) sugar mills, but found no traces of (the original) railways. Finally, James had hinted to me that Mon Désert Alma sugar mill still has a disused railway system including diesel locomotives, as well as working stationary steam engines. I could not get in. Asking the guard and ringing the mill did not lead to any information.