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Steam in China, Kailuan Mining Group's Tangshan Relics 2019

by Peter Crush

Below are a series of emails I have had with Peter Crush, minimally edited. The YouTube video is very interesting especially for anyone interested in industrial history as it shows remnants of colonial era infrastructure. They run in chronological order, the earliest one first.

The key links are:

Peter's China Research Project

YouTube Video

A short update on the Tangshan Mining Park and associated railway museum.

In the third week of October 2019, I revisited Tangshan to update myself on the progress they have made of constructing additional replica locomotives.

The replica "Rocket of China" is still there and yes, parts of it are already showing rust. It is under cover but the sides are open to wind and rain and it is taking its toll.

Their second replica is No.2, one of two Robert Stephenson 0-6-0 'ogee' saddle tank locomotives. Works nos. 2397 and 2398 of 1882, the first standard gauge locomotives imported into China.

We had no drawings for this except for a very small sketch only 2 or 3cm in width. But I did find a number of photographs over the years (including those in my 2013 book about IRNC). In addition to this there are surviving locomotives of similar design, one at the railway museum in Camlik, Turkey and other at a transport museum near Belfast, although these are either of different gauge or inside cylinders unlike the Tangshan version.

The third replica, only just "completed", is No. 11, which was a 4-4-0 tender engine, one of four (11 -14) built by Dubs in 1888. These were China Railway's first "express passenger" locomotives.

The first replica (Rocket) I was led to understand was "operational" and could have been steamed. But this never happened because, I was told, of strict environmental and safety regulations. I did get to see inside the smoke box and fire box and indeed there appeared to be a proper boiler including tubes and a blower. However on the latest two replicas I suspect that the boilers might only be cosmetic and I did not get a chance to verity this.

Notwithstanding this, for exhibition purposes they are quite decent replicas, even if a few things don't appear to look quite right. The cab controls and firebox on No.11, for instance seem far too small (we had no drawings or photos of the cab). The largest disappointment for me is that No.11 lacks a tender and there appears to be no budget or plan for adding one. Without a tender.... this is only half an engine. They detected my displeasure over this.

I stayed at Tangshan three nights in a very nice but not exhorbitantly priced hotel (The Shangri La), On my second full day there I visited the nearby Linxi and Zhaogezhuang mines which belong to the same Kailuan Mining Group which owns the Tangshan mines. The Linxi mine shafts are progressively closing but still have about ten years to go before complete closure. The Zhaogezhuan mines have already officially closed but some shafts, the ventilation fans, water pumps and winding gear are still under use and maintenance because there is a lot of underground equipment which can be withdrawn and recycled. 

It is near the Linxi and Zhaogezhuam mines where on some disused railway sidings a number of SY (上游) class locomotives have been allowed to linger on and have until now escaped the scrap merchant's cutting torches. However, unprotected from the rain, they are rusting rapidly.

Peter Crush

In my last message, I promised to send a second message with some pictures of rusting SY locomotives belonging to the Kailuan Mining Group. These are in and around the various Tangshan mines which are progressively reaching their shut-down dates (hardly surprising after 140 years of operations).

I have put together a Powerpoint slideshow which was then converted to a mp4 video file (with background music). I have posted it on Youtube. It's far from perfect but might be of nostalgic interest. It also includes some slides of the three replica 19th Century locomotives which have been constructed for exhibition in the Tangshan Mining Park and recently added China Railway Origin Museum.


Please note that there is a 20 second delay on the opening slide before next slide appears. The long lead-in is annoying and I apologize for this. I have had trouble trying to edit it out without losing picture quality and resolution.

Peter Crush

Some sections of my collection catalogue are now also posted on an "academic" research website called researchgate.net. (See below for a quick link. RD) They took some persuading to accept my work as 'research ' because it is mainly a site for "brain surgeon and rocket scientist" types to swap notes.

It's not any easy site to navigate. You have to click on various highlighted links.... mainly "Projects" and then "The P. A. Crush Chinese Railway Collection" and then "Project Log" to get to the catalogue files.

Within this, I have quite a few downloadable pdf files of sections from my catalogue.

The site managers seem quite pleased since I joined because it seems I have more people following and clicking on what I post than the stuff posted by genetic engineering nerds who are trying to breed pigs with monkeys. They must measure the success of their website by the number of clicks they receive.

If you want to tell anybody about these, also welcome. I make a promise on the site to provide decent resolution images for anybody wishing to have a reasonable number for their own interest or research.

Peter Crush

Peter A. Crush | (1) Kailuan Mine Museum & (2) China Railway Origin Museum 

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