Volume 8 Number 4. April 2007
The past few months have been a sad and difficult time for the Museum.
Tony Baxter, Chairman of the Rhodesia Railways Historical Committee when the Museum was
founded, died in March. Tony was a member of the FoBRM and although he had not been actively
involved for some time, we owe him a great debt of gratitude.
There is also a report of a fire at the Museum which damaged the Leyland Bus. The loss of the
exhibit is serious, but potentially worst is that it underscores the weak security protecting the
museum, and the temptation that this offers to the destitute living in Bulawayo. The NRZ is unwilling
to contribute financially towards improved security, although I have no doubt that they would to do so
if this were feasible. The committee should consider whether improving security would be a good
way to spend the funds we have accrued. There is no point preserving exhibits if they are then lost
through inadequate protection.
If you have not paid your 2007 subs yet, please do so now! Wayne Kennerley is waiting to hear from
you, his email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Geoff Cooke. Hon Editor.
The committee has agreed that membership for 2007 will be the same as for 2006, at £13.00
overseas and Rand 50.00 for South Africans. Zimbabwe residents will pay Zw$5,000.00 with half
price for juniors and seniors.
Please pay your subs - it is the right thing to do!
Obituary - Tony Baxter
Tony Baxter, who was the chairman of the former Rhodesia Railways Historical Committee in the
1970's, and who set up the Museum in Bulawayo, died in England on 2 March.
Tony's Oxford education was interrupted by service in the Royal Air as a navigator. He saw action
both in Europe and the Far East during the Second World War. Trained in Civil Engineering, he was
involved in the construction of the new Waterloo Bridge in London before emigrating to Rhodesia.
Tony worked on the Rhodesia Railways as a Civil Engineer, and contributed to the community
wherever he was stationed. He was one of the founders of the 2' gauge Gwelo Light Railway which
provided weekend entertainment for the residents of this Midlands' town. Tony and his wife,
Margaret, were both active in the Gwelo Light Railway - Margaret was the first female to qualify as a
driver. Another reminder of the Baxter era in Gwelo is the overhead signal gantry.
In the 1970's Tony helped the fledgling Railway Circles in Salisbury and Bulawayo by printing their
Newsletters on a railway duplicating machine. He organised a number of special trains for the
Rhodesia Railways Historical Committee, including the 1972 'Last Steam' trip to Shamva.
Following retirement, Tony and Margaret settled in Suffolk. Tony wrote and had published the book
'Narrow Gauge Enigma', the story of the Beira to Umtali 2 foot gauge railway, back in 1998. Tony also
assisted with updating the late Anthony Croxton's 'Railways of Zimbabwe' book for reprint.
Tony was known to say "Always go by train as God intended." He did so whenever he could, and we
all continue to benefit from that journey.
Tony Baxter - a great loss to Zimbabwe's rail heritage.
Bulawayo News. 24 January 2007
Chas Rickwood reports:
Hwange coal supplies are erratic again with major breakdowns at the Colliery and also the coal
currently being supplied is of inferior quality. However two locos were rostered, ie:-
Not much progress with the two retube jobs in the P15, ie 414 and 613. Morale is very bad on NRZ
with salary increases lacking well below the current inflation rate which has escalated markedly
recently in line with the sharp decline in the "real value" of the ZWD. For example. I purchased diesel
for 2300/litre on December 14th and today I had to pay ZWD 4000/litre. This is driving up prices for
basic foodstuffs, eg both sugar and milk have gone up this week alone by over 100%!. The rank and
file railwayman is finding life very tough and the Unions have called for go-slow action which has
been going on for some while...situation not helped by the higher-up officers receiving large loans to
Anyway to get back to the steam scene.....20th Class # 740 has received a new boiler but is currently
being used in the Workshops as a stationary boiler whilst sister engine # 730 is in need of new
tubes. Meetings are under way to plan the Railway Touring Company/Rovos Rail trip into Zimbabwe
during April. They plan to bring up a GMAM plus a 19D and to run through from Beit Bridge to Vic
Falls and return, using the Rutenga route. Hope they bring their own coal and maybe water too!!!
Whilst on leave, I was puzzled to know how NRZ were to find coaching stock to run the new
passenger services to Bindura and Chinhoyi. Seems they have reclaimed the DRC ex-Spoornet
stock which according to press reports had been "seized" and was lying in Mpopoma yards as the
DRC authorities had not paid NRZ for renovation work etc. At least use is being made of this stock
which I understand is still in a DRC purple-like livery.
Bulawayo News. 28 January 2007
Chas Rickwood reports:
Just an update on my earlier report last week.
Had another visit to the steam shed yesterday(Sat morning). 15th class # 395 had been rostered for
the Yardmaster duty but developed some mechanical problem so a DE6 substituted. 416 was on
Belmont again and came down past the carriage sidings propelling a long rake of empty container
flats.416 had quite an audible "clank" so hopefully nothing too serious. 424 was on West End and
was busy shunting in the station area where I went looking for DRC coaches. One of these was on
platform 2 as part of the VF train stock...still in Spoornet livery but with "NRZ" painted in the usual
place in the centre of the coach and the NRZ logo below. Only identification was "3208-8 roughly
painted adjacent to one of the doors. I could see another DRC coach on one of the consists for the
commuter trains. One of the station managers came out from his office on Platform 1 and he told
me that some NRZ coaches (and locos?) had been sent up to the DRC during the war there and
never come back. Hence NRZ had taken the ex-Spoornet coaches in exchange.
Took the opportunity of checking on passenger fares which were reviewed again on January 9th.
Single fares from Byo to Harare are now as follows...these are off-peak, ie away from
weekends...USD equivalents in brackets at the current parallel rate of 4000.
Sleeper (bring your own bedding) ZWD 16 300 (USD 4,00)
Economy ZWD 7500 (USD 2,00)
Single fare Byo-Francistown is now ZWD 3 000 (USD 0,75). FT-Byo is Pula 20 (USD 3,50)
Departure times of the commuter service are:-
Emganwini 1630 and 1830 (Mon-Fri) and 1345 (Sats)
Luveve 1645 and 1840 " " 1400 "
Back to the steam shed.....
Overtime was being worked installing boiler tubes on 613 which is more advances than 414 in the
P15 retube area. Under cover in the P15 were:-- 510, 514, 612, 525, 519, 611 Outside P15.... 386,
Bulawayo News. 18 February 2007
Chas Rickwood reports:
Three steam rostered on Thursday last (feb 15th) and of the three different classes in service, ie
Coal stocks are better at present but need topping up on a regular basis. There have been supply
problems with dosing chemicals which has sometimes prevented use of steam in the last week.
Was at the station on Friday and the overnight Harare train not scheduled to arrive until 1600hrs.
Said to be a derailment somewhere up-country. Also, the steam breakdown train is away in the
Mutare area attending to another derailment, said to involve granite blocks headed for Beira.
Progress is slow on the two locos in the retube bay at the P15....16A # 613 was scheduled to be
finished by Feb 28th but is being delayed awaiting the driving wheels from Main Workshops.
Apparently, Rovos Rail have asked for use of a NRZ Garratt for a section of their tour here in April
and it is still hoped that 613 can fulfill this duty. Not much work being done on 414 at present and
520 is the next loco scheduled to go for retube
Bulawayo News. 05 March 2007
Chas Rickwood reports:
Went down to the station this morning to check on the Francistown train. Now scheduled to leave at
10h00. Loco (s) had not come one whilst I was there but the consist was as follows:-
5 x NRZ high-sided wagons loaded with tarps. (3 destined for a company in Plumtree and 2 for the
Stopover Motel in Tssesebe, Botswana.)
1 x NRZ Parcels Van (empty)
3 x ex Spoornet 3rd Class coaches (DRC war reparations!) as follows:-
442-7 (Spoornet 23165) Gulf red livery
3204-6 (Spoornet 23131) Blue and white livery
3213-0 (?) Gulf red
These coaches are put on to cater for intermediate traffic to Plumtree and are takemn off the train at
PT to await the return train from PT the next day.
Twin dining cars 666/667 (Zambezi)
8 x NRZ Standard class coaches. Blue livery, looking very smart
1 x NRZ Sleeper (new stock # 1130) presumably to cater for the NTZ staff staying overnight in
1 x NRZ Baggage Van (#276)
Rovos Rail - the train returning from Victoria Falls had unfortunately suffered a derailment while
leaving the station for RSA at 04h00 today. The loco and first 2 coaches had remained on the track
but the next 5 coaches were derailed and the rear coaches still on the track. The rear observation
coach was stil by the signal cabin on Platform 2. Fortunately it was a low speed derailment and the
coaches remained upright.... must have given the passengers an early wake up call! Speaking with
some passengers, they expected tp leave at noon today provided there are no repairs needed to the
coaches. The diesel breakdown crane was in attendance. The steam breakdown train is still away
on the Mutare derailment referred to in my last report.
Rostered today but still on shed at 09h30
At the P15 shop, the wheels for 613 arrived Saturday ex Workshops. The boiler tubes and elements
have been installed and they have started to paint the loco.
New Zealand Locomotives Move
Chas Rickwood reports:
Ian Welsh's locomotives (14A # 509 and 19D # 2695) were dispached from the Bulawayo Railway
Museum on 07 March 2007. Ian has donated the tender from 2695 to the Museum in recognition of
the storage facilities granted. He has purchased a torpedo tender from Queenstown in South Africa.
The locomotives are going to ZECO Ltd for dismantling before being consigned in DZ's (dropside
wagons) to Durban for onward shipment to New Zealand.
Interesting to note that they will travel by the BBR (Beitbridge, Bulawayo Railway) and then
through Swaziland, which is the normal route for Zimbabwe traffic to and from Durban.
It is also interesting to note that the locomotives were shunted from the Museum with a steam
locomotive (Class 15A # 416), as seen above. Ed.
Fire Destroys Exhibit
Mike Taylor reports:
At 9h00 today Saturday 17 March, a report was received that there had been a fire at the Bulawayo
Railway Museum. Contact was made with fellow FoBRM Committee member Gordon Murray, and
together we went to the Museum.
Initial investigation indicates that at around 6h00 this morning the RR RMS Leyland vehicle Number
244, caught fire and was severely damaged. The Curator and assistant attempted to tackle the fire
with hand held fire extiguishers. In fighting the fire Bernard Mutasa, the Curator, suffered severe
lacerations to one arm. The fire was eventually extiguished by the Bulawayo Fire Brigade.
The fire appears to have been quite intense, and aluminium parts of the Leyland body melted in the
heat. A nearby translucent glass-fibre sheet on the main Museum Hall wall also melted in the heat,
allowing smoke and debris into the Main Hall.
The local police have investigated the fire , and their report is awaited.
Gordon Murray and myself "suspect" that the rear body of the vehicle was being used as sleeping
accommodation. Amongst the fire debris was a double mattress and several drinking utensils.
Wider inspection of the Museum revealed no obvious signs of a break-in, but the Museum perimeter
is only protected by a simple weld mesh fence. One of the access gates is in poor condition. There
were obvious signs that some of the Museum's rolling stock is
being used for sleeping accommodation. In the prevailing economic climate, there is a large
problem of vagrancy in the area. Although most of the carriages have locked doors, access is being
gained through windows. Do we have a "Hobo" problem??
There also appears to be an increase in petty pilfering of Museum exhibits. Four window frames,
complete with burglar bars - suitable for building construction - have been removed from wagon KXB
843364. One of the two brass letter boxes on composite 89035 has been removed recently.
Aluminium covers on the electrical panels and battery stowages on most of the renovated coaches
have also been removed and all 24v light bulbs have disappeared.
Gordon Murray states that efforts to get improved night-time security from NRZ met with the
response of Staff shortages.
It is hoped that costs of refilling the portable fire extinguishers and the costs of the Bulawayo Fire
Brigade will be met by NRZ.
Bulawayo News. 29 march 2007
Mike Taylor reports:
Dining car 646 returned from VF
519, 525 and 416 in P 15
424 rostered W/E
611 rostered Bel
395 rostered NG - but on shed in steam - may have had a minor defect
613 in refurbishment has superheater re-tubing completed. Driving wheels
After a year's delay, brake mechanism on the mechanical coal wagon unloading
equipment has been repaired. The coal bunkers are empty, but there are a number of wagons
waiting to be unloaded during testing tomorrow.
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