The International Steam Pages

Narrow Gauge Steam in South Africa, 2002/3

The purists might not consider it 'working steam' but these locomotives are earning their living. Geoff Pethick reports:

Periodically, and often at harvest time Sandstone Estates, home of Sandstone steam Railroad in the Eastern Free state uses its (2ft gauge) rail system to haul crops to the silo. This makes a lot of sense given the increasing price of diesel and the saving of labour and tractors.

Recently, newly overhauled Fowler 0-4-2T 14316/1914 'Sandy' was given a run, then ex-Beira Railways 'Lawley' Falcon 233/1895 hauled three loaded wagons and a coach from harvest site to silos, this being repeated several times spread over a couple of days.

The Lawley is the only working example of the six (@ see below) known to exist worldwide, and possibly the only Falcon locomotive which works commercially, the observant will notice that it is now fitted with vacuum brakes for the first time in its life. The coach, (not visible here), was built by the Hungarian Carriage & Wagon Co in 1907.

sar03001.jpg (45808 bytes)

With the imminent return to steam of NGG 16 No. 113 and with NGG 16 No. 153 serviceable it will soon be possible to run really long double headed trains. Also serviceable are AE 1936/1924 and Barclay 0-4-2T 1459/1916.

Sandstone is able to accept photographic charters, rates subject to negotiation.

@ Geoff Cooke adds (19th January 2003) " I have seen 7 and wonder if anyone has been to the Busi Sugar Estates recently and can confirm how many exist there? There was one at the club (Busi Club, appropriate name?) and two discarded in sidings beyond the mill. Add the two in Bulawayo, one at Sandstone and one at the Hall Transport Museum, and we have 7."

Rob Dickinson