The International Steam Pages

A Day out in Porto for Steam Relics

James Waite has sent some notes of another day trip to Portugal, this time to the Porto area in March 2009. This drinking fountain is outside Sernada station and the two tiled scenes show a train in the station hauled by one of the Decauville/OK locos and the big bridge over the River Vouga immediately outside the station.

I called first at Leixoes docks in the north west of Porto and the main port in the north of Portugal. The dock company’s no. 2, a delightful outside framed 0-6-0T (HSP 231/1884) is preserved in the passenger terminal along with what must be one of the tiniest coaches ever built. Leixoes was the terminus of a branch line from Senhora da Hora, part of what was originally the 900mm gauge system north from Porto to Povoa and Famalicao and the dock lines must also have been 900mm gauge. The system was converted to metre gauge in March 1930 and the loco and coach were presumably converted at the same time. Old photos exist showing numerous narrow gauge locos working on the dock system. The broad gauge line from Contumil to Leixoes opened in 1938 and the narrow gauge branch was progressively cut back from then on, closing altogether in 1965. Nowadays there’s an extensive broad gauge yard on the southern side of the dock with long distance rail traffic and the line forms a part of CP’s electrified system.

The passenger terminal is a large wooden structure built in the 1960’s and it’s now the Portuguese equivalent of a listed building. It’s inside the docks’ secure area. About 50 cruise liners dock each year and the building is firmly locked up the rest of the time. I was shown round by Raquel Cunha from the port authority’s headquarters building, a most helpful lady who also took me to see an old broad gauge Fowler loco belonging to the port authority also numbered 2 (JF 4000009/1947) which is plinthed outside the secure area alongside the Avenide da Liberdade a little to the north of the docks. I’d arranged to make this visit in advance and I don’t think it would be possible to see the steam loco without doing this.

I moved on to Pedorido on the south bank of the Douro about 30km upstream from Porto. The village was the river port for the 600mm gauge Pejao colliery railway which closed in about 1972. The line then had six locos and remarkably all of them are now preserved. One was Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0WT 1375/1918 "Pejao" which is now at the CP museum at Santarem. The other five were all Orenstein & Koppel 0-6-0WT’s. These were works no's.7059/1914 "Choupelo", 9239/1921 "Fojo", 10551/1923 "Pedorido", 10808/1924 "Pedemoura" and 11784/1928 "Sao Domingos". "Choupelo" is now at the CP museum at Estremoz though according to the CP website the museum is closed at present. "Fojo" went to the Welsh Highland Railway at Porthmadog and was later sold on to a person called J. Quentin at or near Leominster in Herefordshire where it’s believed still to be privately preserved. At the Welsh Highland it was renamed "Nantmor". "Pedemoura" is preserved at the Leighton Buzzard Railway in Bedfordshire. It is currently being restored to working order and parts of it are at the Keef factory at Lea Lines near Ross-on-Wye.

"Sao Domingos" was originally preserved at the South Tynedale Railway and later moved on to the Bredgar and Wormshill Railway in Kent. Finally it was sold on to the Great Bush Railway, a private line at Hadlow Down in Sussex. Its restoration was completed in 2008 and it now runs at occasional public open days. In 2009 these are planned to be on 30th and 31st May, 8th and 9th August and 26th September. 

Unlike the other OK’s "Pedorido" is an outside-framed loco. It was one of three identical locos built for the CF Mineiro do Lena which constructed a mineral railway from Martinganca, on the CP’s Linha de l’Oeste, roughly midway between Lisbon and Porto, eastwards to Batalha where the company had mining interests. The railway was later rebuilt to metre gauge as a public railway and extended southwards, opening in 1930. Three metre gauge 0-4-0T’s were obtained from O&K and three smart 2-8-2T’s from Skoda. The railway appears to have been a victim of the 1930’s depression. It first reverted to being a purely mineral line and had closed altogether by 1941 when the three Skoda locos were sold to the La Robla line in northern Spain. I saw two of them in August 1970 dumped at Cistierna on the La Robla along with many other locos, including some of the Pacifics which came second hand from Tunisia and the 2-8-0’s from the RhB. They were all scrapped shortly afterwards, probably later in 1970. “Pedorido” was sold to the Pejao mining company, probably in the late 1930’s. It’s now the only survivor from the Lena line.

After the Pejao line closed “Pedorido” was preserved for many years at Faro station in the Algarve. It’s now returned to the village after which it is named in connection with a project to set up a mining museum at the old Pejao mine where it will form one of the major exhibits. In the meantime it’s stored in the grounds of the local council office in Pedorido in a picturesque location overlooking the Douro. It’s easy to find in the centre of the village almost opposite the church. Pedorido is about 45 minutes drive from the outskirts of Porto. I drove there via Penafiel and from there on the Entre-os-Rios road where a metre gauge steam tramway ran for a few years until the First World War. The rails have long gone but apart from this the road must be almost unchanged – narrow and winding, not an easy drive! 

Next up was the museum at Macinhata do Vouga, the home of six preserved CP metre gauge locos based in an old stock shed alongside the station of the Sernada - Aveiro line. It’s supposed to be open from 9.00 to 13.00hrs and 14.00 to 17.00hrs on Mondays to Fridays but was firmly locked up when I called on a Wednesday afternoon. Frustrating this as exactly the same thing happened when I was last there in 1995. A few people were waiting on the platform for a train bound for Aveiro which arrived a few minutes later, worked by one of the dmu sets built by Sorefame in 1991 and 1992. It carried lettering celebrating the centenary of the Vouga system in 2008 though it had been the victim of graffiti artists and the lettering was barely visible. One of the museum exhibits, CP 4-6-0T no E 123, ex-Vouga no. 23 (Borsig 6451/1908) is preserved outside in the station yard. It was one of four of these machines supplied to the Vouga line and has the same anglicised looks as the 2-8-0’s supplied by Borsig to the Hedjaz Railway a few years later.

I moved on to Sernada works about 3 km to the north. The yard contained more of the Sorefame dmus and also two of the 1954-built Allan railcars, venerable machines now more than fifty years old. Sadly they too were graffiti victims. Inside the running shed there are three stored steam locos, 2-6-0T E 97 (OK 5757/1913), 2-6-0T E113 (Esslingen 3504/1907) and 4-6-0T E112 (Borsig 6450/1908). E 97 is another ex-Vouga loco which appears to have spent most of not all of its working life based at Sernada. It was used on special trains in the 1980’s and 1990’s but does not appear to have worked recently. It’s one of a class of seven, two of which were built by Decauville and the rest by OK. It’s not known which of them was responsible for the design. E 113 spent its working life on the Tua line and again was kept in working order into the 1990’s. The 4-6-0T was restored cosmetically at Sernada works for a private museum project near Viseu which has since folded. Unfortunately the lighting in the running shed comes from translucent green corrugated panels in the roof – not easy for photography. At least the locos have escaped the attention of the district’s graffiti artists as has one of the Allan railcars stored alongside them.

My final port of call was the Lousado museum north of Porto. For many years the museum was housed in the old Lousado works, the principal maintenance centre for the old Porto metre gauge system. The mainline through Lousado was doubled in connection with a suburban electrification project a few years ago which involved the demolition of a part of the museum building. The remainder has now been upgraded in typical publicly-funded museum style – somewhat characterless though with some impressive displays. In addition to the four steam locos there’s one of the tiny blue 4-wheeled railcars familiar to those of us who visited the Douro metre gauge lines towards the end of steam, several pw vehicles, and an array of heavy engineering equipment still kept in working order though the overhead shaft which drives them is now powered by electricity and not by the old stationary engine. One of the more unusual exhibits was a sort of metre gauge transporter wagon carrying 900mm gauge track. Presumably it’s a relic of the pre-1930 gauge conversion. The locos here are:-

Porto Povoa and Famalicao (PPF) 0-6-0T 6 “Povoa de Varzim” (Black Hawthorn 342/1874)
CP 2-6-0T E 101 (Esslingen 3420/1907) restored as CF de Guimaraes 6 “Soares Velloso”
CP 0-4-4-0 Mallet tank E151 (Henschel 7221/1905) restored as PPF 14
CP 2-8-2T E 144 (Henschel 21878/1931) restored as Norte 104

The Black Hawthorn is one of four, no’s. 3-6 supplied for the opening of the Povoa line in 1975. They were the first narrow gauge locos in the country. Curiously no’s 1 and 2 did not arrive until the following year. They were two 0-4-4-0 double Fairlies, one of which survived into the 1940’s. It’s a shame it wasn’t preserved. The Black Hawthorn is a very pretty little loco. It seems to me that there’s a distinct family likeness to other preserved Black Hawthorn locos including “City of Aberdeen” at Tanfield, “0” at Beijing museum, Kettering Furnaces No.3 at Penrhyn Castle and, in Portugal, the 7ft gauge no. 2 at Ponta Delgada. Like E151 it was built as a 900mm gauge loco and was converted to metre gauge in 1930 after the PPF had merged with the FC de Guimares to form the Norte. It was withdrawn in 1944 and taken over by the Batalho de Sapadores de Caminhos de Ferro at Tancos in 1945, initially for training and where it was later plinthed, perhaps alongside the 500mm gauge Decauville loco which is still there. Like E151 it remains as a metre gauge loco. E 151 is an old friend from the 1970’s when it was based at Livracao on the Tamega line. E 144 is another old friend and worked on the Porto system until 1978.

Back home at 22.30hrs, another good day out!



Macinhata do Vouga

Sernada do Vouga


Rob Dickinson