24 November 2007

Usakos, Namibia, steam locomotive at station building

October 2003: Photo courtesy of Jacque & John Wepener.

Photo taken by Ian Marais on 28 Sept. 2004

2’0” gauge Class Hd/NG5 2-8-2 #40 Henschel works number 10720 built in 1912 plinthed in front of the Usakos station building. The station building has since been demolished by run away trucks.

Unknown photographer - about 2004

Unknown photographer - about 2004

Photo taken in 1960 by Hennie Conradie
In 1960, after the Usakos-Karabib-Tsumeb-Grootfontein line's narrow gauge was broadend from 2 feet to 3 feet 6 inches, all of the railway system in South West Africa was dieselised. Up to that time steam traction was used, and before 1960 many a steam locomotive, including the old Henschel #40 shown here, would have quenched its thirst with an ample load of water from these historic water tank towers at the Usakos railway yards.


This plinthed narrow-gauge loco was photographed by Louis around 2005 at the station in Usakos, Namibia.

#40 Class Hd
Builder: Henschel & Son (Kassel)
year: 1912
works number: 10720

Photo: Louis Conradie

Numbered #40 (also #SW40 to prevent confusion with SAR numbering) this loco had 2 sisters numbered 41 & 42 - together they made up class Hd. These locos retained their numbers under SAR administration, and were withdrawn in 1960 when the narrow gauge was converted to standard Cape gauge.
Sister locomotive #41 is plinthed at Otjiwarongo station further to the north.

photo by Louis

In 1912 Henschel built three 2-8-2 tender engines #40, #41 en #42 for the Otavi line for use on the Swakopmund-Karabib section.

Like many other SWA locos they had dust covers to protect the motion. The carrying wheels were arranged as radial axles. As there were no separate boogie truck, the axle boxes were guided in such a way that the wheels could move radially with respect to the frame.

2007-06-01 photo courtesy Harry Van der Schyff.

2007-08-11 photo by James Stearn.

An interesting feature was the use of air brakes on the train, a feature that has not yet had wide spread application on the SAR.

More information on class Hd and NG's here

12-09-2008 Unidentified Photographer (thank you!)

12-09-2008 Unidentified Photographer (thank you!)

What is this??? Photo: Algemeine Zeitung

photo: Louis Conradie 09-01-2009

These dramatic pictures show the poor little workhorse after an accident that was none of its own making. On 17 Dec 2008, around mid-night, a run-away truck hit the locomotive where it was plinthed in Usakos town at the far side of a T-junction in the road.

photo: Louis Conradie 09-01-2009

TransNamib said it was prepared to move the locomotive to a safer venue – the site of a proposed railway museum at the century-old municipal building. TransNamib spokesman Ailly Hangula-Paulino told The Namibian that the locomotive was indeed a monument, but not part of TransNamib’s operation. “We welcome the idea of the museum, which can host historical objects including the locomotive. TransNamib will assist, as part of its corporate social responsibility, to ensure that the locomotive is placed in a safe and secure place for the benefit of the future generations,” she said. She could not say when TransNamib would move the locomotive. Usakos CEO Joseph Jantze said the Town Council hoped that this would be the last accident in which the locomotive was involved, and that the incident would convince TransNamib to move it to the proposed site. Over the past 2 years the locomotive was narrowly missed in two earlier similar accidents when in fact the old station building was demolished in the accidents. Mr Jantze was optimistic that the damage to the locomotive could be repaired.(source: The Namibian 22-12-2008 & Republikein 22-12-2008 )

photo: Louis Conradie 09-01-2009

Note how narrow the narrow gauge is indeed! (600mm or 24 inches)

Date Jan de Vries took this picture on 6 March 2009

We were very happy to learn that by March 2009 when this picture was taken, the little workhorse was on its feet again, albeit not properly on the rails yet. Hopefully there are plans to move her on her plinth again! In the old days (up to 1960) there was plenty of expertise on Usakos to tackle a little task like this, alas, that was 50 years ago now!

6 March 2009 photo: Date Jan de Vries

This picture of the uprighted loco appeared in the Namibian

In the REPUBLIKEIN newspaper of 24.02.2010, this picture appeared of the loco on its new plinth, at a safer location elsewhere in Usakos.

The locomotive is still plinthed in the vicinity of the railway lines - visible in the background. The unfortunate damage done as result of the accidents shows in these pictures.

The previous 5 pictures were taken on 3 September 2010, and kindly supplied by Konrad Schüllenbach, curator of the TransNamib Museum in Windhoek.


  1. good to see that things still get repaired in Namibia ...and re-painted!!
    I passed through Usakos in 2005 when No 40 was still at the T-junction by the station.

    Chas (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe)

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