|Volume 9 Number 1. June 2007
Chairman: Robin W. Doust Tel: Bulawayo 259729
Secretary: Mike Taylor Tel: Bulawayo 283019
Treasurer: Charles Rickwood Tel: Bulawayo 255611
Public Relations: Juliet Rickwood Tel Bulawayo 255611
Editor: Robin W. Doust Tel Bulawayo 259729
Membership Secretary: Wayne Kennerley (U.K.)
Members: Derek Radtke (U.K.)
Geof Calvert (Plumtree)
Geoff Cooke (U.K.)
|Click on photographs for a
|Friends of the Bulawayo Railway Museum Newsletter
With great regret we have received Geoff Cooke’s resignation as editor of the Newsletter and I have temporarily
added the Editor’s portfolio to that of Chairman although I would be more than happy to hand over to a better
qualified person if we have any volunteers. Geoff did an excellent job even though he was based in the UK, and the
post is one which does not require the holder to be in Bulawayo. Don’t hesitate to contact me if interested – we will
give all possible help from here as regards news items.
We propose to revert to the previous practice of circulating the Newsletter to all members in hard copy form as not all
members have access to e-mail and we were never sure whether members were receiving copies. With the collapse
in the exchange rate to Z$2.1 million = ₤1, postage has become relatively cheaper from Zimbabwe, and circulation
should become more reliable as a result. If you find you are missing any previous issues please let me know and we
will try to fill the gaps for you.
This issue is a little late appearing as the change of editor was only advised in mid November, but we hope to get
the next two issues out by mid February at the latest and thereafter to keep to the normal quarterly schedule. Please
accept our apologies for the unavoidable delay.
Needless to say, the Newsletter will only be as good as the contributions received, and we will be more than happy to
receive any contributions which you may be able to offer. These may be either current news items or historical
articles primarily on Rhodesian/Zimbabwean topics, but I believe members will also be interested in the wider
southern African scene and contributions within this area will be equally welcome.
The Rickwood Report
Chas arrived back from a two month break in Greece and Australia recently, during which time he was able to meet
some of our members in Oz and to enjoy some steamy experiences over there, but he lost no time in visiting the
steam shed once back home, and has the following report on the current steam scene in Bulawayo, datelined 19th
. Just back from three months away from Bulawayo so went for my Garratt steam fix this morning. 14A # 525 had
been rostered for New Grain but as no fireman pitched up, a DE 9 was substituted. However 525 was being utilised
on the loco shunt
Rostered and out on duty:-
WE 613, BEL 395
15th Class 424 was sent to Hwange Colliery on hire on August 26th and apparently worked a freight up the North line.
HCC have now finished with the loco and seem to have run it in to the ground. It is reportedly somewhere between
TJ and Byo and will need a lot of repair work. NRZ engineering staff were not keen on this hire but "higher up"
decreed that it had to be
15th Class 414 is still undergoing refurbishment in the P15. Delays due to Workshops not keeping to schedule with
their part of their job...internal politics blamed. Doubtful whether work will be complete before year-end.
20th Class 730 - this loco is being considered for a Steam Tour in 2008 and Workshops have prepared a schedule of
work required with a time estimate of 18 weeks. Still awaiting costings.
The new thrice-weekly passenger service Byo- Beit Bridge is now operating and I will get timetable later in the week.
Massive inflation here in the 3 months we have been away but nevertheless enjoyed a scone and coffee in the
ambiance of the Bulawayo Club at a cost the equivalent of less than 50 US cents...ZWD 450 000 in local terms so
not many Zimbos could afford this. Fuel is scarce and if you can get, it is around ZWD$ 1.5 million/litre or USD 1,00
if you pay forex.
The Google Garratts
Considerable interest is being shown in reports on the Zimrail e-mail site about large numbers of Garratts having
been sighted on the Google Earth website at more than one location in upcountry Angola. Little has been heard of
this once famous fleet of wood burners since the outbreak of civil war in the mid 1970’s, but it now seems that a
considerable number of engines still survive.
A large batch has been identified at Catete stn. (CFL): 9°05'02 S. / 13°41'14 E. Huambo stn. (CFB): 12°45'52 S. / 15°
44'41 E. Huambo wks. (CFB): 12°45'24 S. / 15°45'32 E. and with peace now restored one wonders whether any
intrepid enthusiasts might investigate further. Could any still be serviceable/in use? Could they be a possible source
of cheap motive power for the N.R.Z.? We’ll keep you posted as the news comes up.
20th Class to Run Again ?
A timetable and estimated costs for restoring Museum 20th Class No. 730 has been drawn up by the N.R.Z.
workshops. At least two overseas tour companies are interested in running the engine next year and we are hopeful
that 2008 will see this magnificent engine on the main line again after several years break.
The engine is reported to require retubing but is otherwise believed to be in reasonable order.
Sister engines 740 and 736 are also still in existence in Bulawayo, the former in use as a stationary boiler in the
workshops and the latter, formerly Dusty Durrant’s property, currently at the Steam Shed awaiting a fairy godmother to
restore it to running order. Any offers?
We continue to fund numerous consumable items in the Museum as and when required, and the latest restoration
project has seen a major repair started on the mine protected inspection trolley. This has stood in the open for many
years, and the V shaped body has collected rain water and developed a major rust problem. It is believed to be the
last surviving example of the type and has now been de-rusted and painted in silver primer and will be restored to its
former camouflage paint scheme in due course.
Now that the two refurbished locos. for New Zealand have left, we hope to have the inspection trolley moved under
cover before applying the final top coat, which should prevent a recurrence of the rust problem in the future.
In Search of Rhodesian Narrow Gauge
by R. A. H. Baxter
Editor’s note: The late Tony Baxter was a civil engineer on R.R. and the N.R.Z. until the mid 1980’s, and the
following article appeared under his name in “Railway World” in 1954. He gave permission for it to be reproduced
before his untimely death in January this year and I am sure readers will find it of interest. Tony was the principal
moving spirit behind the foundation of the Railway Museum and remained a member of the ‘Friends’ until the end of
Southern Rhodesia as an overseas country twice the size of Britain is remarkably devoid of narrow-gauge railways. In
fact, apart from the internal electric mine railways only two light railways remain in operation, and it is these 2ft
gauge lines that I wish to describe.
The largest of the two railways is the Igusi Sawmills Railways, which runs through fairly flat bush country for sixteen
miles from Igusi fifty miles north of Bulawayo on the Rhodesia Railways main line. This railway is about twenty years
old and is operated entirely with second-hand equipment bought from the Selukwe Peak Light Railway, the other
line described in this article.
The track is rather roughly laid with ex-Rhodesia Railways 45lb rail spiked to hardwood sleepers on earth ballast.
However, in spite of the track, and the age of the rolling stock speed is quite high, alarmingly so when one is riding
on the footplate !
The two locomotives normally in use are 4-4-0 tender locomotives built in 1898 for the Beira Railway which at that
time was 2ft gauge as far as Umtali. One engine only is in steam at a time, and naturally since the railway serves a
timber mill wood is the fuel. The line possesses no buildings whatever, and trackwork is of the simplest form. A run-
round loop at each end suffices together with several spurs running into the forest and mills.
The whole line has a rather ghostly atmosphere, for coming upon it, one finds a single line much overgrown with
grass. Then a curiously lopsided clanking is heard, and into sight comes a train headed by one of the very aged
looking locomotives, emitting neither steam nor smoke owing to the hot climate and the wood fuel. The train rushes
by and once again the bush is quiet. The Igusi Sawmills Express has gone on one of its twice daily trips to the forest.
By contrast to the backwood impression of the Igusi line the Selukwe Peak Light Railway has a very business-like and
well cared for look. This is much shorter being only five miles long. However, in that short length it is full of interest
and magnificent scenery.
The line was opened originally in 1920 to connect the Selukwe Peak chrome mine with Selukwe station of the
Rhodesia Railways. In those days it was very primitive, being laid with 20lb rails, along which oxen pulled four-
wheeled cocopans. By 1923 it had been decided to use locomotives, and the two Beira locomotives now at Igusi
were bought. Also from the Beira Railway came two 0-6-0 tender locomotives about which little is now known.
Gradually loads increased until in 1926 traffic was so heavy that the line had to be relaid with ex-Rhodesia Railways
60lb rails with stone ballast. A permanent platelayer with a gang of twelve boys is constantly employed, and the track
is a real credit to them. When the track was relaid, the opportunity was taken to buy a heavier locomotive, and the
first Peckett 0-4-2T engine was bought. This locomotive with its tractive effort of 14,240 lb. suited the needs of the
railway so well that two more were bought at intervals. In the meantime various much smaller second-hand
locomotives were bought to cope with the shunting at Selukwe and the Peak. The present locomotive stock of seven
is shown in the accompanying table.
The remainder of the rolling stock consists almost entirely of steel bogie wagons with a carrying capacity of 5 1/2
tons and inside bearings to the bogies.
To describe the line it would be best to relate a recent trip.
Having previously arranged to travel to the Peak and back my wife and I duly presented ourselves at the Selukwe
terminus alongside the Rhodesia Railways station. We were asked to complete the usual formalities in what was
tantamount to the Traffic Superintendent’s office, a neat brick building in the middle of the yard. We did not have
long to wait for a train since there are eleven trains a day in each direction. However, while we waited we watched
Buckeye and Margaret busily shunting wagons around the yard in true Emmett fashion. We also wandered over to the
well appointed little locomotive shed, which is capable of holding four of the engines. It is well equipped with drop
pits and electric tools. Alongside the shed we found a most efficient workshop capable of carrying out light and
heavy repairs. Actually, while we were there Mary was having a thorough overhaul.
In due course a loaded train steamed in, hauled by Karen. The load was taken away by Buckeye, and having coaled
and watered, Karen coupled up to a train of empties. To our surprise the trucks then filled up with natives, and on
asking the driver we were told that natives were allowed to travel free on the line and, in fact, passenger traffic was
With a shrill blast on the whistle we started away up the grade from the terminus, and across the main road level-
crossing. Just beyond the crossing there is an elevated track for loading chrome directly into lorries. The climb
continued for a further three-quarters of a mile until the track passed through a gap in the hills. Down the other side
the train gathered speed round the now numerous curves for a further mile when it rushed across the only bridge on
the line. As we crossed the bridge another train headed by Ivy passed under and eventually panted to a stand
alongside us at the Reversing station.
Karen ran round the train and off we went again down the hill and under the bridge. Then came the surprise of the
line as we ran into Halfway station. Although for most of the trip so far we had been descending, we now ran out high
on the side of a wooded hill, and were able to see scores of miles to the south. This paradox is explained by the fact
that the country as a whole drops several hundred feet on the south side of the hills in which Selukwe is situated. The
train coasted steadily on along a line now very reminiscent of the Vale of Rheidol, high up with deep cuttings, and
sharp curves. Ahead we could see the Peak Mine with its buildings sprawling down the well-wooded hillside. Finally,
after traversing many more sharp curves the little train ran into the peak terminus.
At the Peak there is a small yard with spurs running off into the mine. Popeye was shunting and collecting together a
load for Karen to haul back up to Selukwe.
The locomotives run chimney first from Selukwe to the Reversing Station and from the Peak to the Reversing Station.
They are kept in spotless condition, being painted green, lined black, with much polished brass. The load is eight
loaded bogies and is hauled over the five miles in forty-five minutes.
All these impressions only emphasise the contrast between these two Rhodesian narrow-gauge railways both of which
are well worth the search.
By Train to Grahamstown
by Ken Kearns
I used to travel by train from Salisbury to Grahamstown to school at St Andrews from 1960 to 1963. There were
three terms, thus we travelled six journeys each year to and fro.
The coaches at Salisbury station were then new, and the formica interior panelling had a unique aroma. As the
main departure and arrival station for us all with many family and friends present, I never had a chance to go
down to the engine, RR had diesel electric at that stage, but I never saw which one.
Bulawayo station with its immensely long double platforms was the first change of trains. We had to collect our
metal trunks from the guard’s end of the RR train and carry them by hand to the South African train on the
opposite platform. The South African train going through Bechuanaland to Mafeking had no dining car, but many
station stops along the way, the reason maybe to support the remote station shops, like Mahalape, Pahalape,
Figtree and so on. Francistown was the big stop of course.
The South African train through Bechuanaland always had a major steam engine which required frequent water
stops from the big bowsers. Having no dining car, my regular friends at St A Prep and I would often walk up to
the engine during the stops. Sometimes we were invited up to the engine cab, and
occasionally travelled to the next water stop on the footplate and shovelled the coal into the furnace. These
were very big and fast steam engines. 6 – 10 – 6 maybe.
I have a picture I took but from the front and distance with my box camera. Bechuanaland was ideal for a big
speed machine because like the USA it was flat and straight for hundreds of miles. There was truly a massive
amount of wildlife in Bechuanaland and Rhodesia in those days.
At Mafeking we hooked up with the dining car. While they shunted around at these changes, we took a sortie
into the main street. Timing was critical and we had many close shaves with departures. Like our WW2 fathers
we had fairly good warning systems, usually the first sounds of the main steam engine. By then we were
experts on catching moving trains. (In 1963 at De Aar I left it too late on a second trip into town, the train was
moving too fast out of the station and a very big station master intercepted me from grabbing the last coach door
rail. It is something to watch the train disappearing in the distance in the middle of nowhere.)
With dining cars and additions of other passenger connections from South Africa, we were well occupied, on to
the Cape on about the third day and night. Kimberley, Middleburgh, then Cookhouse and Alicedale on the fourth
and last day onto a narrow gauge line with a change onto old small wooden coaches with small wooden seats,
presumably from the nineteenth century, with a very small engine. At certain hills the train would slow to a near
halt and we would all get out and walk to reduce the load probably overloaded with all the big steel trunks we
Eventually we would disembark at West Hill siding immediately above St Andrews Prep Fairlawn House. We
had travelled back in time, back to a Dickensian world, a time warp from Highlands Salisbury which was closer
to real Africa and the world. The great joy of course was reversing this time warp at the end of a long three
month Dickensian term, back every mile, two thousand miles of sheer joy back to Bechuanaland, Bulawayo and
Salisbury with that marvellous aroma of the Rhodesian coaches. Back to Highlands with its great gardens,
hundreds of African birds of every colour, electric trains and guitars, and out to the north east of Mashonaland
with lions in the morning and paraffin lamps at dusk.
My regular companions over those wonderful years were Mike and Pete Lever from the border of the Congo,
Graeme and Peter Hall from the Copperbelt of Northern Rhodesia, and Tony Morkel from Que Que. We all met up
at Bulawayo of course and thus separated to different parts of Africa on return, many of my Salisbury friends
going up to Nairobi for the hols and to school in the UK. as in the Indian sub continent and Sumatra and Java
like my friend Mark.
We all travelled together from Std 3 at age nine or ten up to college. I left to do O Levels at Falcon in Essexvale
in the Matopos region of Matabeleland, followed by some others as the RSA world changed after Sharpeville.
I would greatly appreciate any and all detail on the engines and rolling stock and any pictures of this era. I am
working on interlocking biographies of quite important people, some of whom were quite connected to the early
days of rail development. I have some accurate colour records of British engines and rolling stock of the era
which I recognize immediately. However it would be very good to have an official or expert advice of those
routes above in the years 1960 to 1964.