The International Steam Pages


St. Kitts Sugar Manufacturing Corporation (SSMC), 2012

Thomas Kautzor has been to several Caribbean islands to check out what is left of their railways and industrial heritage.

For the full general index, see Railway Relics (and more) in the Caribbean, Other report for the eastern islands in this series comprise:


At the bottom of this report is an update from James Waite from early 2013.  Thomas has since provided an update from his October 2013 visit.

St. Kitts Sugar Manufacturing Corporation (SSMC):

The railway on St. Kitts is described in details in Jim Horsford, “The St. Kitts Railway” (Locomotives International, 2004, ISBN 1-900340-18-6). A Central Sugar Factory was opened at Basseterre in 1912 to replace the individual mills and boiling-houses on the island’s estates. The first branch of the 30-in. gauge railway to open was between the factory pier and the factory (1.½ miles). During construction it was used to transport parts of the factory and later to transport bulk sugar and molasses to the wharehouses and tanks at the pier. In 1981 the branch was extended to serve the newly-built Deep Water Pier. For the transportation of sugar cane, lines were built both northeast and northwest of the factory. These were later linked to form a complete circle around the island (30 miles). Ten transfer sidings were used to transfer cut cane to the railway. A few additional passing loops allowed additional train crossings. The railway was worked in three sections, with the northern section served by a locomotive based at Sandy Point Terminus (mp 18.¾), all controlled by a central dispatcher.

In 1972 the sugar estates were taken over by the government and in 1976 the sugar factory was nationalized. Following years of producing at a loss, it was decided to close the factory after the 2005 season, and to base the economy mainly on tourism. Since then the sugar estates have been abandoned, although some are being developed into residential areas. Parts of the factory have already been scrapped, while most of what remains is slowly decaying. The workshops are still operating and a furniture maker has set up his offices in the yard and re-employed some of the former factory workers. At the end of June 2012 the SSMC was to be dissolved, with its assets to be turned over to a new entity. The government also has plans for a Sugar Museum, either at the factory site or at Belmont Plantation in the north of the island.

Locomotives & Rolling Stock:

Seven steam locomotives are known to have operated on St. Kitts, all Kerr Stuart “Brazil” class 0-4-2PTs with open-sided cabs. These were withdrawn in the late 1950s and scrapped in 1972, with the exception of No. 5 (KS 1314/1916), which has for some reason survived to this day, although in very poor condition. While it was due to be preserved, someone moved it with a bulldozer sometime after 2005, when part of the factory complex was cleared to make way for a new power plant. At that time it lost its cab and chimney, and all that remains today are the frame, wheel set, boiler and water tanks.

Two of the railway’s early petrol locos are thought to be privately preserved in the U.K. They are:

  • 4wPM No. 8 (Plymouth 1910, 4 tons, 32 hp), which was withdrawn in c.1961 and taken to the U.K. after 1991; (nb This builder's information is from Horsford's book; John Middleton has access to Plymouth records and suggests it must actually be Plymouth 1168 of 12/1921 a 6.5 ton loco Type BL / 3 with full length canopy, it had a Buda BTU petrol engine when new to St Kitts Sugar Factory Ltd. RD)
  • 4wPM No. S (MR 3663/24, 32 hp, rebuilt from War Department 24-in. gauge MR 435/17), which was out-of-use by 1972 and sold to Mike Hart in the U.K. in February 1998 (supposedly for use on the Ffestiniog Railway).

The following list shows the SSMC petrol and diesel locos still thought to be on the railway in 2005 and my findings (some of the locos have of course been renumbered over the years and some numbers are occupied more than once, plates found on locos are underlined):

Please note that this list has subsequently been modified in the light of Thomas Kautzor's October 2013 visit. I have left this here untouched.

  • 6wDM No. 1 (HE 5202/57, 12 tons, 116 hp) operational in 2005, stored at SKSR;
  • 6wDM No. 2 (HE 5216/57, 12 tons, 116 hp) operational in 2005, stored in loco shed;
  • 6wDM No. 3 (HE 5236/58, shown as 5217/57 by Horsford, 12 tons, 116 hp) operational in 2005, stored at cane tipper;
  • 4wDM No. 4” (RH 48DL 300350/50 or 300530/51, 48 hp, ex No. 14”) withdrawn by 2002, stored at SKSR;
  • 6wDM No. 5 (HE 5217/57, shown as 5236/58 by Horsford, 12 tons, 116 hp) operational in 2005, stored at cane tipper;
  • 6wDM No. 6 (HE 5235/58, 12 tons, 116 hp) operational in 2005, stored at SKSR;
  • 6wDM No. 7 (HE 5237/58, 12 tons, 116 hp) operational in 2005, stored at SKSR;
  • 0-6-0DH No. 8 (ESCA L7/97, 134 hp, rebuilt from 0-6-0DM RH 100DL 302766/56, 14 tons, 1979-80 ex Antigua Sugar Factory Ltd., 1958 regauged from 24-in. gauge) operational in 2005, not seen;
  • 4wDM No. 9 (RH 48DL, 283900/51, 7 tons, 48 hp) operational in 2005, not seen;
  • 4wPM No. 10 (MR 3666/24, 5 tons, 32 hp, rebuilt from War Department 24-in. gauge MR 452/17) derelict by 1972, derelict at factory;
  • 4wPM or DM No. 11 (Davenport 2045/25, 10 tons, 45 hp) derelict by 1972, not seen;
  • 0-6-0DM No. 11” (RH 100DL 302769/57, 14 tons, 100 hp, 1979-80 ex Antigua Sugar Factory Ltd.) withdrawn by 2002, not seen;
  • 0-4-0DE No. 12 (AW D40/34, 12 tons, 85 hp) operational in 2005, stored at SKSR;
  • 0-6-0DM “Churchill” (Davenport 3030/47, 14 tons, 150 hp, ex No. 13) withdrawn by 1991, not seen;
  • 0-6-0DM No. 14 (Davenport, 145 hp) withdrawn by 2002, not seen;
  • 6wDM No. 14” (HE 5218/58, 12 tons, 101 hp, 1989 ex No. 4) withdrawn by 02/2002, awaiting restoration at SKSR workshop;
  • 0-6-0DM No. 15 (Davenport 3120/49, 14-15 tons, 150 hp, ex Jamaica) withdrawn by 1982, not seen;
  • 0-6-0DH No. 15” (HE 9086/82, 18 tons, 160 hp) operational in 2005, under restoration at SKSR;
  • 0-6-0DM No. 16 (Whitcomb 40637/34, 15 tons, 150 hp, ex Jamaica) operational in 2005, stored at SKSR;
  • 0-6-0DM No. 17 (Whitcomb 40018/48, 15 tons, 150 hp, ex Jamaica) withdrawn by 2002, not seen;
  • 0-6-0DH No. 18 (ESCA L8/97, 134 hp, rebuilt from 0-6-0DM RH 100DL 302768/56, 14 tons, 1980 ex Antigua Sugar Factory Ltd.) operational in 2005, stored at loco shed;
  • 0-6-0DM No. 19 (RH 100DL 302770/58, 14 tons, 100 hp, 1983 ex Antigua Sugar Factory Ltd. No. 5) withdrawn by 2002, not seen;
  • 0-6-0DM No. 20 (RH 100DL 285318/52, 14 tons, 100 hp, 1983 ex Antigua Sugar Factory Ltd., No. 3) withdrawn by 1991, not seen;
  • 0-6-0DH No. 21 “Pauline” (ESCA L6/96, 134 hp, rebuilt from 0-6-0DM No. 10” RH 100DL 302768/56, 14 tons, 1979-80 ex Antigua Sugar Factory Ltd.) operational in 2005, not seen.

A number of locomotives have been saved by the St. Kitts National Trust and moved to the main line next to SKSR’s Needsmust Station. No. 12 used to haul the sugar and molasses trains between the factory and the pier. During my visit No. 15” was being repainted to be put on display at Needsmust Station together with some cane wagons and a cane transfer crane. No. 14” was to follow next, possibly to be put on display in front of the National Museum in Basseterre. Others are destined for the planned Sugar Museum. It’s a pity that armoured MR No. 10 was not among those. At least one other locomotive was hidden by vegetation at the factory and could not be identified, but I was unable to find out the fate of the other locos on the list, whether they were scrapped, sold or moved to some other location.

The diesel locos used to operate with water and sand ‘tenders’ used for adhesion. Three are stored at Needsmust (No. 1, 8 and 14), while at least another was at the factory (No. 6).

Small motor trolleys were used for track inspections. At least three were taken over and initially used by SKSR, but only the cut-up remains could be seen at Needsmust.

Passenger cars for inspection and track gang cars have been rebuilt from cane wagons and three of those have also been stored at the SKSR station.

There were three types of cane wagons, all built by Robert Hudson in the U.K. of 3 ton capacity:

  • 500x weighing 2.25 tons;
  • 50x weighing 2.60 tons, ex-Antigua;
  • 30x hybrid 2.35 tons, with Antigua wheelsets and St. Kitts bodies.

Not many seem to be left nowadays. A few are stored between the factory and Needsmust, while eight were at Hermitage Siding (mp 4.½) and another two at Belmont Siding (mp 15.½). Cane wagon No. 707 has been turned into a flat wagon by SKSR. There were also 49 mud wagons, 25 bagasse wagons and 6 bogie flat wagons.

For transports to the pier there were eighteen 11-ton capacity bogie sugar bin wagons and four 15-ton capacity bogie molasses tank wagons, of which sugar wagons No. 5 and 6 and molasses tank wagons No. 1 (round tank) and No. 5 (square tank) have been stored at the SKSR station, together with an older four-wheel tank wagon (Eaton). A four-wheel steel crane (Isles Ltd., Stanningley, 1910), formerly used to transfer goods at the pier, has also been moved to the SKSR station.


The sad remains of 5:

The Isles (former steam) crane, a rare survivor according to Chris Capewell:

The diesel fleet:

#2

#3 and #5

#4

#5 and #3

#6, #7, #1 and #12

#10

#12 with SKSR train in the background

#12, #1, #7, #6 and #16

#14

#15

#16,# 6, #7, #1 and #12

#18

Rolling Stock:

Diesel tenders

Sugar bin car #5

Molasses tanker 1

Molasses tanker 5

Track inspection cars

Track inspection car

Eaton tanker

Surviving Structures:

Sugar mill

Locoshed

Factory Pier

Sandy Point Terminal

Mansion Viaduct

Weighbridge


James Waite was here in February 2013 and comments:

Here are some photos from St. Kitts which you may like to update Thomas's report. He mentioned that no's 14 and 15 were being restored at the Scenic Railway workshops for possible display at various places. The restoration is now complete and here are the two locos standing outside the Scenic Railway's shops in the early morning sunshine with one of the tenders which used to accompany the locos at work.

The other photos are of the derelict steam loco (No. 5, KS 1314/1916). Thomas had suggested we ask at the old sugar factory for Rupert Gumbs who still bases himself there and where he has worked for more than 50 years. He turned out to be a truly delightful person who took us to see the steam loco (which was virtually invisible behind the accumulated growth of sugar cane etc.) and then insisted on going off to fetch a shiny new machete and spending more than 20 minutes working away in the midday heat to hack back the worst of the growth so that we could see the loco properly. One of nature's gentlemen! He features in the picture at work with his machete and the ex-WW1 armoured Simplex no. 10 is in the background to the left. Also shown is the Hunslet works plate on the boiler backhead and presumably the boiler dates from 1951 (by which time of course Hunslet had long since acquired KS's designs and goodwill). Rupert is aware of the resurrection of Hunslet under Graham Lee and was hoping I could encourage him or someone else in the UK to rescue the loco. It is supposed to be destined for a future sugar museum on St. Kitts but Rupert seems to have given up hope on this, or at least on the loco being restored on the island, and its survival is clearly something which is important to him.

Incidentally Thomas refers in his notes to no. 5 as being a pannier tank. Strictly speaking this is wrong and the loco in fact carried a square saddle tank (an enlarged version of the tank on the KS Wrens) rather than two separate raised side tanks which is what panniers are. What's left of the tank is still in situ though it's so bashed that it's almost unrecognisable. The loco's inside Stephenson valve gear is also intact. Apart from these differences the loco must have been similar to Trangkil no. 4 which is also a Brazil class.


Rob Dickinson

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