Small Class Number 7
Jack Tar
Built: Manning Wardle
Builders number: 1159 of 1889
Received: 1899
To Museum: 1972
Previously preserved at Umtali Transport
Jack Tar is one of the best known and liked steam locomotives to have worked in Rhodesia.
Calling Jack ‘she’, as is common with locomotives, seems singularly inappropriate for such a
masculine name, so tradition must change, and Jack will remain a ‘he’.

Built in 1889 as a Manning Wardle standard design, Jack Tar was purchased new by Mr J P
Edwards of Chapel en le Frith, Derbyshire, a contractor employed on the Midland Railway route
between Dore and Chinley. Built as a 3 foot gauge locomotive, she was ex-works on 14
November 1889.

The locomotive is a flat sided 0-6-0 saddle tank with a 19’1” wheelbase and a 22’10” overall

Interestingly, the locomotive presently displays a Manning Wardle builders plate dated 1899. It
is not known why this is, but possibly the plate is a replica. The name ‘Jack Tar’ has been on
the locomotive for a long time, but I do not know of any definitive reason for it, or when it was

In 1896 Jack Tar was altered to 3’6” gauge and was sold to Pauling & Co for £1372. The loco
worked as a contractors engine for Paulings, who were at that time involved in the widening of
the Beira to Umtali railway.

Around 1904 and 1905 he worked as a ballast train locomotive on the construction of the line
into Zambia from Victoria Falls. He was the first locomotive to cross the Victoria Falls Bridge
(and hit a leopard on that first trip). Prior to this he was dismantled and carried across the
Victoria Falls gorge via the ‘Blondin Cable’ before the bridge was completed. The boiler was the
largest single load carried on the Blondin, and it caused some anxious moments as the cable
sagged to an extent that prevented the truck from climbing up the cable until extra
counterweights were added to the cable end and the safety valve was adjusted to give more
steam pressure.

In 1929 Jack Tar was replaced at Beira by a pair of
Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0 tank locos and was
sent to Bulawayo to work as a workshop shunter. This was again a useful duty as he could fit on
the traverser with a 65 foot coach, whereas all other locomotives were too long.

In 1935 he was nominally sold to the Bulawayo Workshops of the Rhodesia Railways. He was
re-boilered, and largely rebuilt in the workshops. The cab was covered in, and a false dome
was fitted. By this time, an anchor as embellishment had appeared on the handrail in front of
the chimney.  

The loco worked in the Bulawayo workshops until 1942, when it was transferred to the Umtali
Workshops. After many years as works shunter, Jack Tar was stored prior to being displayed at
the Umtali Transport Museum. He was transferred to the Bulawayo Railway Museum in time for
the opening in 1972.
Jack Tar at Beira Station.
Copied from 1903 Rhodesia Railways Timetable.
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A postcard showing Jack Tar during the Victoria
Falls Bridge costruction.
Jack Tar prior to rebuilding in 1935.
Photo. NRZ Museum
Jack Tar arriving at the museum from Umtali on
22 October 1972.
Photo. Geoff Cooke
Jack Tar in the main exhibition hall.
Photo. Geoff Cooke
According to Manning Wardle records their number 1656 was a "special" 3ft 6in gauge 0-6-0
saddle tank with 12in by 18 in outside cylinders, ordered on 29 march 1905 and dispatched on
06 June 1905 to Pauling and Co Ltd at Beira.

Of similar design to Jack Tar, this second tank locomotivve was named  Maramba (the name of
a small river that joins the Zambezi just above Victoria Falls), she was used on the construction
of the railway to Kalomo and Broken Hill.

Maramba would appear to have worked further north and most likely arrived in Katanga around
1909 / 1910, when work on the CFK commenced, and was reputed to have been the first
locomotive in Katanga. It was later taken over by the CFK which eventually became part of the

By 1972 Maramba was stored at the KDL Lubumbashi Workshops in Katanga and by 1988 she
had been seen plinthed outside Lubumbashi Station.
Maramba with an unidentified 7th Class refulling
with logs. Photo probably taken at Livingstone in
National Archives of Zimbabwe photo
Maramba plinthed outside the station in Lubumbashi
Photo: Unknown Belgian Enthusiast
Maramba stored at Lubumbashi Workshops in 1972.
Photo: Peter Bagshawe
Geoffs trains tours
Maramba plinthed outside the station in Lubumbashi
Photo: BBC. November 2011