A HDR rendering of the lonely SAR Class 15AR No 1840 at Kliplaat. Photo by Piet Conradie taken on 25 Aug 2009 at noon.
Another HDR photo of the same engine.
In the heyday of railways in South Africa, Klipplaat was an important railway junction, being the point at which the main Cape Town to Port Elizabeth line branched off towards Graaff-Reinet. Sadly those days have passed and Klipplaat has become a quiet little place.
28 Sept 2007 photo by Jean as posted on Flickr
The railway from Uitenhage goes over a dusty plain before reaching the Eastern Cape town named Klipplaat. The Afrikaans name stems from the many vertical rocky formations in the area. Over the years the railway junction developed in an important railway centre, and the town grew with it. In 1979 dieselation caused many of the railway personal to be relocated and several businesses in town had to close down. The town started to die. In 2001 the line to Graaff Reinet was also closed and Klipplaat was no more a junction to carry traffic to Middelburg and Noupoort across the Lootsberg pass. Subsequently the station was demolished by vandals - even the cables were dug out of the ground. The lonely Class 15AR rusting away just adds to the feeling of desolation.
Background Note: Trouble has been coming down the tracks for some time. About 20 years ago the South African railway system reached almost every corner of the land. In 100 years from the opening of the first railway, from Durban to Point, in 1860, 21000km of railway were built in the country. About half the system comprised rural branch lines to farming communities. Some of the branch lines were viable, others, built to please country voters, were hopelessly unprofitable and expensive to maintain and operate. In 1993 Spoornet began shedding its loss-making railways. The agricultural branches in the Cape midlands were the first to go, with eight lines closed at the stroke of a pen. More lines have been closed since. Country stations were demolished to deter squatters, staff were deployed elsewhere or retrenched, and the rails were left to return to the earth. By 2003, the network of what Spoornet called “light density lines” numbered 9 600km, of which just 5 000km was considered economically viable. Spoornet, and its new incarnation, Transnet Freight Rail, have responded awkwardly to the problem of what to do with the unwanted branch lines. Proposals to concession or privatise them have, so far, come to nothing. Instead, in what De Villiers calls the “Transnet recipe”, the rural network has been allowed to slip away. “If they have an unprofitable line, they reduce the maintenance, and then declare it unsafe,” he says. Source: Paul Ash as published on Feb 09, 2009, in this article in The Times.
29 Sept 2007 photo by Graham Hobbs as posted to Panaramio.
Most visitors to Klipplaat are surprised to discover a lonely forgotten steam locomotive. Believe it or not, the locomotive is actually "stored" here for the Transnet Heritage Foundation Preservation. Doesn't look like much preservation at this time!
Photo by Piet Conradie taken on 25 Aug 2009. Comparing this picture with the 2007 one above, it is clear that the local municipality has cleared the growth around the engine to enhance the appearance of one of Klipplaat's tourist attractions. Well done!!!
Klipplaat used to be a busy railway junction - it is here that the main west-east railway line meets the branch line northwards to Graaff-Reinet and Middelburg. The actual intersection is a curved triangle of rails just outside town, designed in such a way that trains coming from any direction can easily turn onto either of the other two tracks.
Photo by Piet Conradie taken on 25 Aug 2009.
In 2009 the George-Oudtshoorn-Toorwaterpoort-Willowmore-Klipplaat-Port Elizabeth route is still in use, amongst others by the Premier Classe train. (Report here). These days the line to Graaff-Reinet is closed to traffic and abandoned, with rusted rails stretching away into the distance. The demise of railway traffic through the town has left Klipplaat poverty-stricken and desperate, with high levels of unemployment and crime.
29 Sept 2007 photo by Graham Hobbs as posted to Panaramio.
CROP of 29 Sept 2007 photo by Graham Hobbs as posted to Panaramio.
In this crop the locomotive's painted number "1840" can be recognized .
16 Dec 2007 HDR Photo by Anton Matthee
July 2008 Photo by Danie and Kobie
The Klipplaat engine is a regular background for bikers venturing into the Karoo. Unknown date and photographer - appeared in BIKE SA. Thanks to Mark Newham and Hennie Heymans for forwarding the picture.
photo: Jansenville - IKWEZI MUNICIPALITY - Klipplaat
This 4-8-2 locomotive is SAR Class 15AR ("R" indicates reboilered) engine no 1840. It was built in 1920 as works number 5956 by Beyer, Peacock & Co Ltd, Manchester, England.
The original Class 15 was designed as a large mixed traffic locomotive for use where grades and curvature were not so severe as on the coastal sections.
A HDR rendering Class 15AR No 1840 at Kliplaat. Photo by Piet Conradie taken on 25 Aug 2009 at noon.
No 1840 briefly reunited with her original number plate
Photographically I like the way the driver is framed in the image above - Piet.
The improved Class 15A were continuously built between 1914 and 1922 by Beyer, Peacock and North British Locomotive Co. In total 119 of these fine locomotives were built. When later reboilered with a standard No 2A boiler both the Class 15 and 15A were reclassified as Class 15AR. In this form they worked in the eastern Transvaal, eastern Cape and the Orange Free State.
During the 1960's many were transferred to the Cape Midlands where they were used mainly on the Port Elizabeth-Klipplaat section, as well as the Uitenhage suburban. They were gradually being withdrawn by the mid-1980's.
A very near sister of engine no 1840 is no 1842 which is plinthed at the EPRFU stadium in Port Elizabeth.