We visited the locomotive on 31 May 2004, and these pictures are from that visit.
This plaque in front of the locomotive reads:
THIS CLASS 6 LOCOMOTIVE WAS ONE OF THE TYPES DOING SERVICE ON THE SECTION BETWEEN BARBERTON AND KAAPMUIDEN AT THE BEGINNING OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY FOR THE THEN CENTRAL SOUTH AFRICAN RAILWAYS (THE SUCCESSOR TO THE ZUID-AFRIKAANSCHE SPOORWEG MAATSKAPPIJ) THE LOCOMOTIVE WAS TRANSFERRED UNDER ITS OWN STEAM AND ON LOOSE SECTIONS ON RAIL FROM THE BABERTON RAILWAY STATION TO THIS SITE ON THURSDAY 13th MAY 1971 AND ON FRIDAY 30th 1972 IT WAS OFFICIALLY HANDED OVER TO THE TOWN COUNCIL OF BABERTON BY THE Hon. H.E. MARTINS Deputy Minister OF TRANSPORT.
Two of these jacks were part of the display. The lettering at the base of this jack reads:
SAR 1912 TO LIFT 30 TONS.
SAR Class 6 series locomotives are plinthed around South Africa as follows:
- 6 429 Graaff Reinet
- 6 432 Nigel
- 6A 482 Koedoespoort
- 6B 490 Uitenhage
- 6B 498 Fort Klapperkop
- 6B 500 Vereeniging
- 6B 536 Barberton
- 6D 579 King Williams Town
- 6H 627 Mafikeng
CLASS 6. 6A, GB, 6C, 6D, 6E, 6F, 6G, 6J, 6K, 6L.
Originally designed by locomotive superintendent Michael Stephens for fast passenger service on the Cape Government Railways (CGR), successive orders for the 6th class were placed with both British and American builders between 1893 and 1904 for use on the CGR and Orange Freestate Government Railways (OVGS). For convenience, the following descriptions are distinguished between the plate and bar-framed engines and are examined in date order.
The first order for 40 engines was delivered from Dübs and Co in 1893 and became the SAR Class 6. They were an enlargement of the CGR Class 5 (SAR Class 05) with Stephenson's link motion but with 'D' valves positioned above the now horizontal cylinders. They were placed in service on both the Western and Midlands system.
A further order for 50 locomotives was received from Dübs and Co and Sharp, Stewart and Co between 1895 and 1897. These engines had larger boilers than the first order and were classified SAR Class 6A on the SAR and distributed throughout the Cape colony.
A third order was placed with Neilson, Reid and Co for 54 engines which were delivered between 1897 and 1898 and again shared throughout the colony. Classified SAR Class 6B, they were almost identical to the 6A except they were provided with an eight-wheeled bogie tender.
The 33 engines delivered by Neilson, Reid and Co in 1898 were again similar to their predecessors but were fitted with six-wheeled tenders and became SAR Class 6D.
The last plate-framed 6th-class locomotives built for the CGR were 21 supplied by Neilson, Reid and Co in 1901. Their boilers were again enlarged and were fitted with H.M. Beatty's large cab. They became the SAR Class 6H.
Besides the CGR, the OVGS also bought and operated engines of this type. The first of these were 15 locomotives delivered in 1896 by Dübs and Co, Neilson, Reid and Co, and Sharp, Stewart and Co. After the Anglo-Boer War they were operated by the Central South African Railways (CSAR) where they became the 6L-2 type until they were classified SAR Class 6C.
A further six engines for the OVGS were delivered in 1898 by Sharp, Stewart and Co. Mechanically similar to their earlier engines but with a large cab and a bogie tender, they became type 6L-3 on the CSAR and classified SAR Class 6E on the SAR.
While under CSAR administration several of the Class 6L-2s were fitted by P.A. Hyde with a larger Belpaire boiler and a larger, more sheltered cab. This conversion improved their performance tremendously. Subsequently the SAR rebuilt many of the Class 6, 6A, and 6B in this way, without alteration to their classification.
During the 1930s AG. Watson further displayed his aversion to Belpaire boilers when he reboilered many of this type with round-topped fireboxes but retained the large cab, again without a change of classification.
These little engines had a long and illustrious career on the SAR. As they were displaced from main-line work they were assigned other less glamorous tasks. Most notable was the performance they set up on the Cape and Reef suburban traffic during the 1920s. During World War II, 16 of the classes 6 to 6D were sold to the Sudan to assist with the war effort. While the last 30 years of service was spent mainly on the shunt throughout the country, except Natal, they were used occasionally as late as 1960 to assist with branch-line work. The last of these engines were withdrawn in 1973.
The first bar-framed CGR 6th class was delivered in 1900. These consisted of two locomotives built by Sharp, Stewart and Co and were placed in service on the Cape main line, later to become the SAR Class 6F, but were withdrawn by 1929.
The next two orders were placed with American companies, the first for eight engines was delivered in 1901 by the American Locomotive Co and placed in service on the De Aar-Kimberley section. They had larger boilers and were more powerful than the previous 6 classes and became SAR Class 6G. The last engine of this type was withdrawn from service in East London in 1961.
In the same year, ten locomotives were delivered from Baldwin. They were similar in dimension to the Class 6G but were classified SAR Class 6K by the SAR. They worked on the East London main line and were withdrawn by 1928.
The most successful bar-framed 6th class were the 14 locomotives supplied in 1902 by Neilson, Reid and Co. Used initially on the Cape main line, they became the SAR Class 6J on the SAR. The last engine of this type was withdrawn from service in Bethlehem in 1972.
The final order for CGRs 6th-class locomotives included certain experimental improvements. For the first time in South Africa an engine was superheated and provided with piston valves. Whereas in later designs the superheater elements were passed down the boiler flues, the arrangement on these engines confined the elements to the smokebox. The two engines, to become SAR Class 6L, were delivered by Neilson, Reid and Co in 1904. The superheaters were not successful and in 1915 these engines were reboilered and reverted to using saturated steam.
Again they were confined to the Cape main line and were finally withdrawn by 1939.
This postcard shows Central South African Railways (CSAR) engine no 468 at Baberton station sometime between the years 1903 to 1910. CSAR 8L-2 engine no 468 was built in 1903 and in 1910 it was renumbered to SAR no. 1159 under the new railway administration and grouped in SAR Class 8B. This engine was works no 15800 from NBL. The picture clearly shows the engine's polished brass dome (and not so clear - chimney caps and boiler bands) introduced by the Imperial Military Railways previous order for Class 8ths. After the Anglo-Boer War the batch of 30 CSAR 8L-2 locomotives were ordered in 1903 to remedy the position regarding the comparative small number of locomotives immediately available for service and to prepare for an expected increase in traffic.
This railway postcard shows a typical train of the period being worked on the bridge over the De Kaap River not far from Baberton.
From the Past: When a very near sister engine 537 was still in steam in 1965:
Photo: Leith Paxton. Class 6B 4-6-0 [ex Cape Government Railways 6th class] - No. 537 [NR 5322/1898 - ex CGR 598] in original form - at Sydenham Loco Depot (Port Elizabeth) 7 November 1965
Specifications for SAR Class 6B may be found here.
- Leith Paxton ans David Bourne's Locomotives of the South African Railways - Struik - 1985.
- Railways of Southern Africa - Locomotive Guide 2002 - John Middleton
- Steam Locomotives of the South African Railways - Vols 1 & 2 - DF Holland (Purnell - 1971)