17 June 2009

Uitenhage, Old Railway Station Museum, SAR Classes 6B and 10BR locomotives

Old Railway Station Museum, Uitenhage

In July 2003, in the sar-L (South African Railway fans) group on Yahoo, Bryan Brinkman described this museum as follows: "Another priceless gem, and not too well known, is the Station Museum in Uitenhage. It has a two locos, and about 5-6 coaches / dining cars. The best part of the collection, however, are the old trunks and misc. station equipment, that dates from the early 1900's. It recreates the station atmosphere very well, and is the sort of museum that the OTM in George should strive to be - so please, if you are ever in the area, support it."


1981 Photo by David Perl


Photo: Clive Botha - The old railway station fondly known by locals as the "Doll's House"

Compare with this postcard image dating back about a century ago ...

This postcard was published by Hallis & Co, Port Elizabeth.

While spending two nights at ADDO, we made an special trip, on Monday 24 August 2009, to Uitenhage, to visit the Old Railway Station Museum.


photo: Elna Conradie


1981 photo by David Perl

On the previous Thursday I had made a phone call to the main museum in Uitenhage, to confirm that the Station Museum will be open on that particular Monday. I was most positively assured that the Museum will definitely be open. As we drove by, in the street where the (main) Drosdy Museum is located, I noted that the museum door was closed [Truth was: The door was closed on account of the weather, the Drosdy Museum was actually open for visitors, we should only have checked!].


photo: Elna Conradie

We arrived at the Station Museum at about 10:30, the gate was clearly locked - it would not help to ring the bell for attention: What really happened on that morning of 24 Aug 2009, was that the museum staff member who looked after the station museum, had fell ill for 3 working days. As the museum was running with a serious staff shortage (another staff member was already hospitalised at the time) nobody could be allocated to man the Station museum on these days, but the Acting Head Natania Schmidt advises that in such cases visitors should phone the emergency number displayed on the Museum sign board (see below) and someone will come and open the museum.


The photo which was captured on e-film by the photographer above!

4-6-2 SAR Class 10BR engine no 758 built in 1912 as works number 5484 by Beyer, Peacock & Co of Manchester, England.


1981 Photo by David Perl

Locomotive no. 758, class 10BR was one of a group of five locomotives, which in their original form as class 10B, was built in England in 1912. These five joined ten sister engines (class 10A) supplied in 1910 and built on the design of the earlier 1904 original CSAR 10th class. In the 1930's, thirteen of these locomotives were given a new lease on life by fitting new standard boilers, the "R" signifying the new boiler. The 10BR's were taken out of service in 1972/3 and for the most part scrapped. Exceptions were engine no. 750, mounted as a station monument in Roodepoort, engine no. 756, station monument at Kroonstad and our own no. 758.


Looking at the Entrance signboard did not help much to open the museum! We should have called the emergency number!


So we had to content ourselves by walking around the perimeter and see as much as we could.


Going along in the side street we got a view of the building ...


And got a glance of the rolling stock hidden on the other side of the building.


A closer look through the fence ..:

4-6-0 SAR Class 6B engine no 490 built in 1897 as works number 5120 by Neilson & Co, Glasgow, Scotland. The locomotive spend it's last days of service at the Zwartkops Power Station in Port Elizabeth. The locomotive was in CGR/OVGS service before becoming SAR stock.

Locomotive 6B-class no. 490 started life as No. 202 of the Cape Government Railways on the Cape Western System in 1897. It was manufactured in Glasgow, Scotland. With the formation of the South African Railways, following Union, No. 202 was renumbered 490. This locomotive was in service of the South African Railways until 1970.


The backside of the station Museum building.


Walking down the street and into the grounds of an adjacent property, it is possible to get this view - the 6B is left and the 10BR is on the right. This photo may be compared with the historical photo below - which was taken more than a century before.


Archives Photo of Uitenhage Station. Obviously the photographer had carefully composed the people all over the scene and told them to hold their pose for the exposure!

It is a bit of a challenge to identify the two locomotives in this picture.

Originally, in 1873, the railways in the Cape was under one management, but owing to the great distances involved, and the fact that the railways at Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, and East London were not connected, it was decided in 1875 to split the control up into three systems: the Cape Western, Cape Midlands and Cape Eastern. Initially engine numbering on the three systems were preceded respectively by the letters "W", "M" (eg series M44-M49 below) and "E".

With the help of DF Holland's volume 1 book, I suggest the following identifications for the archives photo above:

LEFT: Cape 1st-Class 4-4-0T locomotive (series M44-M49). (bottom page 26 in Holland's Vol 1). They were build by in 1881 by Neilsons as works Nos 2680-2685. They had side tenders, with the back bunker of the original Cape 1st-Class removed, the frames shortened, and a six-wheeled tender fitted as standard. They were very attractive with their green livery and polished brass domes.

RIGHT: Cape 4th-Class 4-6-0T locomotive (top page 33 Holland's Vol 1). These more powerful locomotives were first introduced in 1880 to cope with the increasing traffic and heavier loads to the interior. Designed by Michael Stephens, they were 4-6-o side-tank engines which could be fitted with tenders with little or now modification. In fact, all of them did have tenders, but they were frequently used on shunting work with the tenders removed. Altogether there were 92 of these locomotives ordered for the Cape Government Railways (CGR), making them the most numerous single class. Some were built by Neilson and the others by Stephenson. The last of the class was delivered in 1884.

We now continue with a few more pictures taken in August 2009:


Close-up 1 (below more info about 3rd class coach(es) on the left)

In the late 1980's a former Chairman of the Board of Trustees, the late Mr. B. Human, got hold of two scrapped 3rd class passenger coaches (one visible to the left in these photos), which was brought onto the museum grounds. The two coaches, in a deplorable state - especially the interiors - were meant to be repaired on the outside and stripped on the inside, in order for the coaches to be used as a restaurant. This project (of the then Board of Trustees, tasked with raising funds for the museum) however never got any further, due to a lack of funds and the inability to raise more funds to execute the planned conversion.

These two coaches have been standing at the Old Railway Station Museum, steadily deteriorating and detracting from the exhibits, listed in the UM accession register, which we have a mandate to maintain. It is these two scrapped 3rd class passenger coaches which are currently (July 2010) being demolished. Not only for the much needed cash infusion to repair the Mainline and Suburban coaches (in our register and prized possessions), but also to get rid of what is fast becoming an eyesore on the premises of the Old Railway Station Museum.


Close-up 2 - the 3rd class coaches were being demolished in July 2010 - for more info read text prior to this photo.

Various examples of passenger rolling stock are on display at the museum. Some of these are currently in serious need of maintenance. Natania Schmidt, Acting Head Uitenhage Museum, explains that the last restoration was done in 2000, with help amongst others, of Spoornet. The restoration at the time included the Station Museum's buildings, the 2 loco's, the dining car and the sleeper coach. Natania is painfully aware of the present condition of the outdoor exhibits - her ideal is for the loco's and rolling stock to be put under a roof cover to protect these items from the elements. Unfortunately, so far, funds for this project are just not forthcoming! The Uitenhage Museum, consisting of the Drosty, Cuyler Hofstede and the old Station Museum, gets a subsidy from the State, but, together with fund raisings, education programmes and visitor fee's the present budget hardly allows for any maintenance or expansion work. Clearly, in general, our museums need more support from the private sector.


Close-up 3

The "ELANDS" (name of river) is the renamed Car no 185 "ITALA". During 1940, this car became undeservedly infamous. Her actual name ITALA was confused (even departmentally) with the name ITALIA, which resulted in a number of unpleasant incidents taking place - related to Italy's entry into WW II. For example, in one case some soldiers travelling on the train to which this dining car was attached threatened to break the windows, etc. and were only restrained from doing damage by tactful handling of the chief steward. On other occasions passengers passed caustic remarks. The name was actually changed within a few days after the acting catering Manager made a recommendation for a name change to "Elands". This dining car was withdrawn from service at Uitenhage in November 1976 and was thereafter presented to the Station Museum at Uitenhage. [Source: Railway Dining Cars in South Africa].

On Thursday. 12th December 2001 Samten wrote in his THE UITENHAGE DIARY:

"The Old Railway Station Museum (1875), is one of the oldest railways stations of South Africa, built on Market Street in the year of the opening of the railway from Port Elizabeth."


Photo taken by firefly. This picture shows the 4-6-2 SAR Class 10BR engine no 758 built in 1912 as works number 5484 by Beyer, Peacock & Co of Manchester, England

"Two vintage locomotives, a variety of couches, period furniture and equipment – from the early days of steam. The Residence upstairs, would have been that of the Station Master, fully equipped with Bedroom and Sitting Room furniture: Waiting Room, Tea Room, with old advertisements, biscuit tins, cigarette packets, magnificent Bar, Luggage Room, replete with old luggage, and the Station Offices."



"There is a magnificent collection of artifacts, which would make a very desirable coffee table book, which I am sure would be purchased by Railway Historians internationally. It is well worth a visit. "

Two old steam locomotives with some railway coaches are plinthed at the Old Railway Station Museum.

[1] A 4-6-0 SAR Class 6B engine no 490 built in 1897 as works number 5120 by Neilson & Co, Glasgow, Scotland. The locomotive spend it's last days of service at the Zwartkops Power Station in Port Elizabeth. The locomotive was in CGR/OVGS service before becoming SAR stock.

Photo: Leith Paxton - No. 490 [NEI 5120/1897 - ex CGR 202] as overhauled for P.E. Municipality - at Zwartkops Power Station (Port Elizabeth) 31 October 1971

[2] A 4-6-2 SAR Class 10BR engine no 758 built in 1912 as works number 5484 by Beyer, Peacock & Co of Manchester, England. The locomotive was in CSAR service before becoming SAR stock.

Below is a picture of a sister Class 10BR locomotive:


Photo: Leith Paxton. - Class 10BR 4-6-2 [ex CSAR class 10-A] No. 751 [NBL 18975 - 1909 - ex CSAR 669] Reboilered SAR Std No.1 - at Sydenham Loco Depot (Port Elizabeth) 15 September 1962


HISTORY OF THE OLD RAILWAY STATION

The first meeting to discuss the building of a railway between Uitenhage and Port Elizabeth was held on 1859. Nothing came of this until 1866 when a special meeting was held in Port Elizabeth to promote the construction of the railway line.

Uitenhage was the centre for the wool washeries and a railway was needed to transport the large amount of wool processed here. By 1873 the railway station was being laid out in Market Street.




From the beginning the station was known as "The Dolls House". The building was of red brick which was supplied by the Uitenhage Brick Makers. It consisted of a double-story-ed building in Gothic style, with a high pitched roof in which were three dormer windows. Less than 20 years after it was opened in 1875, it was felt that the Uitenhage station was not large enough and should be pulled down.


SAR archives photo - Uitenhage Station - note that the "Doll's House" station building is visible in the background.

The building remained in use until 1951 when it was vacated for the new station in Bubbs Avenue.



The old building was restored to its former glory in the 1970’s. This unique building is now the Old Railway Station Museum and was proclaimed as a national monument in August 1976.


This interesting photo shows the staff at Uitenhage station in 1904. The photo was kindly provided by Peter Newmarch from his father's collection. Should you be able to identify any of the people in the picture, then please contact me. Presumably the central person without a hat was the station master. Some of the headgear have "Guard" identifications, others appear to be "CGR" (assumed for Cape Government Railways), others have emblems. Also compare with the headgear used by the signalman in the "baboon" photos below. The guys with the cheese cutters are the likely administrative staff, so one can speculate a lot about how headgear indicated where one slotted into the ranks .... :)


STATEMENT REGARDING FALSE RUMOUR
ABOUT SCRAPPING OF LOCO's
23 July 2010

It is absolutely amazing how a rumor can get a life of its own! I am completely astounded as to the disinformation being sent into the world, without even one phone call or e-mail (prior to this communication) to Uitenhage Museum to determine the true state of affairs.

You can all rest assured that neither the staff, nor the members of the Board of Trustees of UM, are so insensitive (and plain stupid) as to destroy - for whatever reason - the two most important artifacts at the Old Railway Station Museum. We are all passionately committed to the preservation of our heritage.

If the person(s) who started the rumor bothered to get the right information, he/she would have been told that WE ARE MOST DEFINITIVELY NOT selling the under mentioned locomotives, nor a Mainline coach or the Uitenhage - PE Suburban coach for scrap! No item in the Uitenhage Museum accession register can be scrapped, sold or even given back to a donor, without a lengthy process of de-accession and ultimately the consent of the MEC.

Locomotive 6B-class no. 490 started life as No. 202 of the Cape Government Railways on the Cape Western System in 1897. It was manufactured in Glasgow, Scotland. With the formation of the South African Railways, following Union, No. 202 was renumbered 490. This locomotive was in service of the South African Railways until 1970.

Locomotive no. 758, class 10BR was one of a group of five locomotives, which in their original form as class 10B, was built in England in 1912. These five joined ten sister engines (class 10A) supplied in 1910 and built on the design of the earlier 1904 original CSAR 10th class. In the 1930's, thirteen of these locomotives were given a new lease on life by fitting new standard boilers, the "R" signifying the new boiler. The 10BR's were taken out of service in 1972/3 and for the most part scrapped. Exceptions were engine no. 750, mounted as a station monument in Roodepoort, engine no. 756, station monument at Kroonstad and our own no. 758.

In the late 1980's a former Chairman of the Board of Trustees, the late Mr. B. Human, got hold of two scrapped 3rd class passenger coaches, which was brought onto the museum grounds. The two coaches, in a deplorable state - especially the interiors - were meant to be repaired on the outside and stripped on the inside, in order for the coaches to be used as a restaurant. This project (of the then Board of Trustees, tasked with raising funds for the museum) however never got any further, due to a lack of funds and the inability to raise more funds to execute the planned conversion.

These two coaches have been standing at the Old Railway Station Museum, steadily deteriorating and detracting from the exhibits, listed in the UM accession register, which we have a mandate to maintain. It is these two scrapped 3rd class passenger coaches which are currently being demolished. Not only for the much needed cash infusion to repair the Mainline and Suburban coaches (in our register and prized possessions), but also to get rid of what is fast becoming an eyesore on the premises of the Old Railway Station Museum.

Please be so kind as to forward this e-mail, WITH THE RIGHT INFORMATION, to all those concerned.

Natania Schmidt
Acting Head Uitenhage Museum


"JACK THE SIGNALMAN"

South Africa’s most famous trained baboon, one which always remained faithful to his master, was "Jack the Signalman" from Uitenhage.



James Edwin Wide, a guard on the old Cape Government Railways, lost both legs at the knee in a railway accident near Kleinpoort in the Eastern Cape. Thus crippled in 1877, he took a post as signalman at Uitenhage station.



About four years later Wide was in the Uitenhage market place when an ox-wagon came in with a large young baboon acting as "voorloper." The owner told Wide that the baboon learned quickly and was unusually intelligent. This gave Wide an idea. His cottage was half a mile from the signal box and he had made himself a light trolley propelled by hand apparatus. Wide decided to buy the baboon so that it could push or pull the trolley.



Jack the baboon soon mastered this simple task. Moreover, he learned to lift the light trolley on and off the railway track. Wide kept and important key in his signal box. It unlocked the points that enabled locomotive drivers to reach the coal-sheds. Whenever a driver wanted it, he gave four blasts on his whistle and Wide would trotter out on his crutches and hold up the key. Jack watched this performance for a few days, then raced out with the key as soon as he heard the four blasts. Thereafter it became one of his duties.



Finally the time came when Wide was able to entrust the signal levers to the baboon. Wide would hold up one or two fingers and Jack would then pull the correct lever. He always looked at his master for confirmation. In the end, the baboon needed no instructions from his master. Jack really knew which lever to operate for each approaching train, and caught the various offerings thrown to him by passengers.

He knew the difference between the "home" and "distant" signals, and also the engine whistles; and although he was always under the eye of his master, he never made a mistake or required telling twice. Jack was one of the sights of Uitenhage for many years, and his astonishing feats of intelligence was the wonder of all who witnessed them. Jack died in 1890 after developing tuberculosis.

ESTABLISHMENT OF THE RAILWAY WORKSHOPS:

When the railway line reached Uitenhage, the Government authorities realised that the engine sheds erected at North End, Port Elizabeth, in 1875, would not be large enough to serve the extended line. A bigger scheme had to be devised and so in 1876 the Uitenhage Shops were established.



The first completed block provided adequate accommodation for repairing three locomotives at a time and the Carriage Shops had room for half a dozen of the short four-wheeled vehicles then in use. The wagons and carriages were all four-wheeled vehicles fourteen and a half feet long and accommodating very few passengers. They were fitted with chain brakes, weighed 3,5 tons and carried a load of 6 tons.

As Railways progressed, so did the Uitenhage Workshops, and it was relocated to a larger and more modern facility in 1976.

Before you visit the museum:

Be sure to confirm current visitor hours which in 2009 was given as below:

Cur, Uitenhage Historical Musems, P O Box 225, Uitenhage 6230
The Old Railway Station Museum (1875) Market Street, Uitenhage.
Tel: 041 992 2063.
E-mail: uitenhagemuseum-at-intekom.co.za (replace "-at-" with normal "@")
Entrance Fee: R5-00 p/p.
Open Mon. to Fri. 10h00 to 13h00 and 14h00 to 16h30.

Should the Station Museum be closed during the hours when it should be open, the Action Head Natania Schmidt advises that in such cases visitors should phone the emergency number displayed on the Museum sign board (041 992 2063) and someone will come and open the museum.


Google Earth views of the Museum's location:

The "Doll's House", the 2 steam engines and coaches are clearly visible in this view.


click on picture to enlarge for street names

Sources:
  1. Metromediasa
  2. Railways of Southern Africa Locomotive Guide 2002 - John Middleton.
  3. Early Railways at the Cape - Jose Burman - Human & Rousseau 1984
  4. Steam Locomotives of the South African Railways, Volume 1: 1859-1910 by DF Holland - Purnell 1971
  5. Railway Dining Cars in South Africa - History and Development - HL (Les) Pivnic - SATS Museum.
  6. Jack the Signalman by Pieter du Plessis
  7. Jack the Signalman - chapter in Animal Tales by Jay Heale (2001)
  8. The Uitenhage Diary (12 Dec. 2001) by Samten.
  9. Natania Schmidt, Acting Head Uitenhage Museum - personal communications January 2010/ July 2010.

3 comments:

  1. Dear Sir,

    Thank you for a fantastic Blog and information on the Uitenhage station.

    I am doing some family research and I believe my great great grand father could have been station master in your 1904 xmas picture. I do think that my great grandfather William James MacLarty is sitting in the front row on the floor, second from the left.

    I hope to make contact with SAR archives to hopefully find some employment records.

    Best regards

    ReplyDelete
  2. In researching the family history I discovered that my grandfather who lived in Uitenhage was a fireman. He died 1924 at the young age of 38. Are there perhaps records held somewhere of persons employed by the railways at this time? I am looking forward to visiting the museum in a week's time.

    ReplyDelete
  3. James Edwin Wide is my 3x Great Grandfather.

    ReplyDelete