10 December 2009

Umzinto, Indian Quran Study School, Hunslet 3385/1946

NOTE: This page should be read collectively together with the other Sugar Cane tramway pages on this blog as general information is scattered across the different pages:
  1. Darnall, Sugar Mill, Avonside 1740/1916 "MR BUSS"
  2. Durban, Sugar Terminal - Maydon Warf: Avonside 1422/1900
  3. Gledhow, Sugar Mill, Hunslet 2647/1942
  4. Mtubatuba, Umfolozi Village, ?Hunslet 1032/1914 relic
  5. Umzinto, Indian Koran School, Hunslet 3385/1946
  6. Witbank, Tiny Tots Nursery School, Avonside 1858/1...
  7. SEZELA Sugar Mill: Sezela No 1 - Avonside 1719/1915
  8. RENISHAW Sugar Estate: Renishaw No 2 - Avonside 1986/1926
  9. The Kearsney-Stanger Light Railway (1901-c.1944)

Small 2-feet gauge locomotives played an important role in the operations of sugar cane plantations in Natal for many years. This provided a lucrative market for several firms which built these small sized locomotives. These little engines, which ran on "tramways" in the plantations, have long since disappeared from the scene. Little has been written about their history and application in Natal, and there seems to be ample room for the publication of a proper book about these small iron ponies. This will take much research and time, so don't expect to find the book here!!!

Working Days !!!

Here they come ...

Note the two sanders seated on the front-end of the locomotive. Their heap of sand is visible under the smokebox door.

And there they go ...

These old pictures show two unidentified Natal sugar cane plantation tramway locomotives hard at work in a typical scene from the period. These photos were posted to flickr by Hannes Paling. More of these old photos may be seen here in a flickr set which Hannes created for cane locomotives.

In this blog entry we look at one such little tramway engine which presently is plinthed in the town of Umzinto in KwaZulu-Natal, a province of South Africa.

This 0-4-2T locomotive, which was used on tramways in sugarcane estates, was built in 1946 by Hunslet Engine Co, of Leeds, as their works number 3385. The locomotive was built to a 9.25"x14" (cylinder diameter x stroke) Avonside design.

The locomotive first went into service for the Crookes Bros. Ltd on the Renishaw Estates, where this locomotive was named "RENISHAW No 6". The Crookes family has established a proud tradition in the South African sugar industry since the 1860’s, when Samuel Crookes first planted cane at Renishaw on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. Crookes Brothers Limited was incorporated in 1913 to take over, and manage the family interests, and in 1948 it was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

2000 photo taken by Hannes Paling.

These year 2000 photos by Hannes were found here in the gallery of "Narrow Gauge Heaven".

In these 2000 and 2005 photos the locomotive is shown plinthed near the Umzinto Town Hall.

2000 photo taken by Hannes Paling.

2000 photo taken by Hannes Paling.

2000 photo taken by Hannes Paling.

2005 photo courtesy Johan Pretorius

These 2005 photos by Johan were found here on sa-transport

By 2005 the builders plates and engine number plates have disappeared.

2005 photo courtesy Johan Pretorius

2005 photo courtesy Johan Pretorius

2005 photo courtesy Johan Pretorius

2005 photo courtesy Johan Pretorius

2005 photo courtesy Johan Pretorius

The little engine was definitely looking for a better location and more appreciation!.

By 2007 the locomotive had been moved to a different location in Umzinto, and had received some welcome cosmetic restoration, in the form of plenty of fiberglass, and paint. Much more pleasing to the eyes!!!

2007 photo courtesy Johan Pretorius

2007 photo courtesy Johan Pretorius

In Dec 2007 Johan Pretorius commented in the sar-L group: "I had a similar concern, about a year ago, when I was looking for the mentioned Hunslet 3385, 'Renishaw No 6' ....on further inquiries and searching, I found the loco at the Indian Quran Study School, further up in Umzinto. The loco has been "fiberglass" repaired where holes had rusted through the metal of the cab sides, cab roof and floor, tanks, lagging etc. It has been painted "bright colours". In general, the loco is in much better and "looked after" condition than it was, when last seen at the Umzinto Town Hall. The obviously still "plinthed" loco is used for children to play on. At least it hasn't been sold to a scrap merchant."

2007 photo courtesy Johan Pretorius

Directions to the position of
the plinthed loco in Umzinto.

General Google Earth view of Umzinto showing the location of the plinthed loco. Note the sugar cane plantations in the surrounding areas!

Click on image to enlarge location of loco position.

GPS: 30°18'38.21"S 30°39'30.55"E

General discussion of some sister locomotives

The Avondside design as used for the RENISHAW N0 6 locomotive came over quite a few years. These 0-4-2T locomotives were built for 2' 0" gauge, using 9 1/4" x 14" (cyl. dia x stroke) designs with Walsharts valve gear. The following list of these engines is by no means complete - the idea is to show that some of these sugarcane estate locomotives have indeed been preserved, and are actually restored, and put back into steam in recent years:
  1. Avonside 1884/1921 - was on the U.V.E 12/1967; bought 2nd hand Hullets as their Darnall No 3 - Present Status: Scrapped
  2. Avonside 2065/1933 - worked from new for Reynolds Bros on Umtwalume Estate as UVE 2 - Present Status: Operational on Paton's Country Narrow Gauge Railway : Umtwalume Valley Estates No.2 or UVE No.2 for short was built by the Avonside Engine Company in Bristol England for Reynolds Brothers. UVE No.2 is a 9 1/4" x 14" design (cylinder diameter x stroke), works number 2065 of 1933. She was the second last Avonside built for the sugar estates tramways in South Africa. Similar locomotives were built by Hunslet Engine Company who took over Avonside in 1935, one of these was UVE No.1. This indicates that the number was only applied later in life, at least after 1937 when UVE No.1 was built. Bought by Reynolds Brothers for use on their South Coast sugar estates, she is known to have worked on the Umtwalume and most probably Sezela systems. These tramways where used up until approximately 1970 when they where replaced by road transport. UVE No. 2 received a replacement boiler from Hunslet in the 1950's. Preserved as a static exhibit at Midmar dam, UVE No.2 was completely overhauled in Durban and later at Midmar in the late 1980's for use on the now defunct Midmar Steam Railway. UVE No.2 was first steamed in preservation in 1991 and remained in use on the Midmar Steam Railway until it closed. She was then stored on a farm at Merrivale until moved to Mason's Mill in Pietermaritzburg. There she was overhauled, receiving a new smokebox and new side tanks and in now in use on the Paton's Country Narrow Gauge Railway at Ixopo.
  3. Hunslet 1859/1937 - worked from new for Reynolds Bros on Umtwalume Estate as UVE 1 - Present Status: in England, operational condition unknown. Hunslet steam locomotive No.16 "Carlisle" arrived at the South Tynedale Railway, Alston, Cumbria on 30th January 1998. It is a 90 horse power, 0-4-2 tank locomotive, built in 1937, works No. 1859. This locomotive was exported to the Umtwalume Valley Estate, a sugar plantation in Natal, South Africa and numbered UVE No. 1. It was taken out of service in the 1980s, becoming a static boiler and was mounted on a plinth in Mount Edgecombe, South Africa in 1991. It was returned to the U.K. in the autumn of 1997, and placed in storage, until being purchased by the South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society. The locomotive is a twin of “Chaka’s Kraal No. 6” (Hunslet 0-4-2T, works No. 2075, built in 1940), which was based at the South Tynedale Railway between September 1988 and September 1999. This locomotive required a major overhaul. A boiler inspection and ultra sonic test revealed that only a retube and slight remedial works were required to bring the boiler up to specification. On 29th Jan 2013, South Tynedale Railway Publicity Officer Glen Kilday reported: "It's all good news at the moment and we hope that we will see 16 in traffic and earning its keep for the first time by 2015.  It is first in the queue for overhaul and funding should be in place by July 2013.  If all goes to plan it should go to Keef's in Ross-on-Wye for a full general following in the wheeltracks if our Green's 0-6-2 BARBER that is there now but we have not yet made a final decision on whose workshop will get the work." On 9 Feb 2014, Glen Kilday reported: "It really is good news for the Hunslet engine. At last its restoration is secure. It will leave Alston sometime soon - my friend Brian Craven, copied in to this note, is leading the entire project including seeing that 1859 sees work again. It looks like it will go to Keef's works in Ross-on-Wye (Brian can confirm). When it gets back to Alston it will be our second British-built locomotive returned to service. It will come back, hopefully 'as new' and fitted out to burn wood waste briquettes rather than our usual coal fuel. The briquettes are made from waste and recycled wood."
  4. Hunslet 2075/1940 - worked from new on Chaka's Kraal Estate as Chaka's Kraal Estate No 6 - Present Status: Operational in England. Built in the UK in 1940 for export to South Africa, this Hunslet steam loco of 0-4-2T type has a distinctive spark-arresting chimney, and is rated at 90hp. The North Gloucestershire Narrow Gauge Railway's Hunslet (2075/1940) 0-4-2T 'Chaka's Kraal No.6' was still in steam at Toddington on 11th September 2005. This locomotive was imported from Natal, South Africa, where it had worked on a sugar plantation railway owned by the Gledhow-Chaka’s Kraal Sugar Estates company. In 2009 the locomotive was undergoing a major firebox overhaul.
  5. Hunslet 3385/1946 - New to Crookes Bros Ltd. on their Renishaw Estates as Renishaw No 6 - Present Status - plinthed in Umzinto (this entry which you are reading)

Pictures of some sister locomotives

UVE 2 in the sugar cane fields near Ncalu in May 2009 on Paton's Country Narrow Gauge Railway based at Ixopo. Photo Copyright © Geoff Cooke.

UVE No.2 in the sugar cane fields near Ncalu in May 2009 on Paton's Country Narrow Gauge Railway based at Ixopo. Photo Copyright © SIMON Daniel.

Driver Johan Pretorius doing a photo run past with UVE No 2 at Ncalo, about 30km from Ixopo.

UVE No.2 -- Avonside 2065/1933 - worked from new for Reynolds Bros on Umtwalume Estate as UVE 2 - Present Status: Operational on Paton's Country Narrow Gauge Railway : Umtwalume Valley Estates No.2 or UVE No.2 for short. Photo taken by Hannes Paling and posted to Flickr - visit his set of photos for Avondside 2065 here on Flickr.

UVE No.2 at Paton's Country Narrow Gauge Railway at Ixopo. Photo taken by Hannes Paling and posted to Flickr - visit his set of photos for Avondside 2065 here on Flickr.

Hannes Paling has also built a 7 1/4" gauge working model of UVE No. 2 - the model is 1,5 metres long and its working weight is 650 Kg -- your may read and see many more photos about this ambitious project here.

Here drivers Johan Pretorius and Hannes Paling are double-heading with their respective models which both emulate UVE No 2.

The same two UVE No 2 models on show.

Johan's UVE No 2 model with all seats occupied train!

Former "UVE No. 1" --- Hunslet 1859/1937 0-4-2 tank locomotive South Tynedale Railway No.16, named "Carlisle" photographed outside the carriage shed at Alston in February 1998. This 90hp locomotive, built in 1937, was exported to the Umtwalume Valley Estate, a sugar plantation in Natal, South Africa and numbered "UVE No. 1". It was taken out of service in the 1980s, becoming a static boiler, and was mounted on a plinth at Mount Edgecombe, South Africa, in 1991. It was returned to the U.K. in the autumn of 1997, and placed in storage, until being purchased by the South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society. It arrived at the South Tynedale Railway, Alston, Cumbria on 30th January 1998. (The 2009 status of this engine is unknown).

Chaka's Kraal No 6. The North Gloucestershire Narrow Gauge Railway's Hunslet (2075/1940) 0-4-2T 'Chaka's Kraal No.6'. This locomotive was imported from Natal, South Africa, where it had worked on a sugar plantation railway owned by the Gledhow-Chaka’s Kraal Sugar Estates company. Presently (2009) this locomotive is undergoing a major firebox repair. Photographer: presently unknown.

Built in the UK, in 1940, for export to South Africa, this Hunslet steam loco of 0-4-2T type, has a distinctive spark-arresting chimney, and is rated at 90hp.
Wheels: 0-4-2T
Builder: Hunslet Engine Co.
Build Date: 1940
Construction No.: 2075
Empty Weight: Unknown
Weight on Drivers: Unknown
Driver Diameter: 27"
Tractive Effort: 5989
Boiler Pressure: 180psi
Cylinders: 9.25x14
Fuel: Coal
Gauge: 24"

BACKGROUND ARTICLE (the original [with photos] of this July/August 2007 issue of NARROW GAUGE WORLD – N0 52 article as published on the web may be found here) NOTE: The website allows one to "copy a portion of a page image for use as a quotation on a blog or other site (within the accepted limits of fair dealing)."

The Locomotive Builders

by Andrew Neale

Avonside Engine Company

The origins of the Avonside Engine Company of Bristol go back far further than any locomotive builder so far considered in this series. In 1837 one Henry Stothert established an engineering works in Bristol and four years later he not only took on a business partner but built his first four locomotives, these being some broad seven-foot gauge locomotives for the Great Western Railway. Stothert’s new partner was Edward Slaughter and the firm now traded as Stothert & Slaughter. It became primarily a locomotive builder supplying engines to among others the London Brighton & South Coast Railway and the Monmouthshire Railway & Canal Company. In 1844 the works were named the ‘Avonside Ironworks’, although this did not affect the actual company title at this stage.

By 1856 the firm had built around 350 locomotives but the two partners decided to divide the business, Henry Stothert concentrating on marine engineering while Edward Slaughter retained the locomotive works, taking on a new partner in a Mr. Grunning. The firm now traded as Slaughter, Grunning & Co of the Avonside Ironworks and from now on there was a marked increase in locomotives exported.

In 1871 Avonside began building locomotives of the Fairlie type. Over the next decade it built more of this type than any other concern and a lot of these were of narrow gauge. The first was Avonside 862/3 (two works numbers were allocated to these double-ended locomotives), a 0-6-6-0 Fairlie of 3ft 6in gauge for the Toronto, Grey & Bruce Railway in Canada immediately followed by an identical locomotive for the neighbouring Toronto & Nipissing Railway. Three more narrow gauge Canadian Fairlies followed in 1872, this time of the 0-4-4-0 type for the three-foot gauge Glasgow & Cape Breton Railway in Novia Scotia.

Then came Avonside’s best known Fairlie locomotive. This was works number 929-30, the second double-Fairlie for the Festiniog Railway. It was a development of the pioneer Little Wonder of 1869, which had proved so successful. The new locomotive was designed by G.P.Spooner, the Festiniog’s engineer, and named James Spooner after his father who had preceded him in the post. It had cylinders of 8.5in diameter by 14 in stroke, 2ft 8ins diameter wheels and weighed 22 tons in working order. The locomotive proved to be a very useful machine and with various rebuilds lasted until 1933 when it was dismantled, although various parts were reused to keep its younger sisters going. Although Avonside built no more locomotives for the Festiniog, two very similar but slightly larger Fairlies, Merddin Emrys and Livingston Thompson, were built in the Boston Lodge shops in 1879 and 1886 respectively, and both of these are still with us today.

James Spoonerwas followed by a generally similar locomotive, but of 2ft 6 in gauge, for the Matanzas Railway in Cuba. Further Avonside Fairlies of 3ft 6in gauge for New Zealand and South Africa were built in the next few years. Finally in 1879 came Avonside’s largest Fairlie order: no less than twenty-five 0-4-4-0s for a projected military line of metre gauge in connection with operations in the Bolan Pass in the Third Afghan War. In the event this line was never built but as by then the builder had completed most of the order the seventeen finished locomotives were accepted into normal Indian Railway stock. One was lost at sea en route but the others had a varied career in India and Burma, including four used on the construction and initial services on the famous Nilgiri Mountain Railway, which still operates steam to this day.

Another very interesting order came in 1875 with the supply of four special 0-4-2Ts of 3ft 6in gauge for the Rimutaka Pass line in New Zealand where they banked trains up the three miles of 1 in 15 grade. They were constructed on the Fell system with two inside cylinders of 12in by 14 in driving four horizontal wheels for braking on the centre third rail. The driving cylinders were of 24in by 16in and their axle loading of 16 tons was the heaviest ever used in New Zealand. They were a great success and remained in service until the incline was replaced by a new line in 1955 (see NGW-41 ‘Smoke and Fury on the Fell’).

Decades of bitter enmity

Despite this activity things were not going well for Avonside and following Edward Slaughter’s death the company was in financial trouble by 1880, primarily because most of its British main line customers were either now building themselves or using larger suppliers such as Beyer Peacock. Bristol’s other locomotive builder, Fox Walker & Co, also failed in 1880 and their Edwin Walker now joined Avonside. The initial attempt to revitalise the firm failed but Walker then formed a new company, retaining the existing Avonside Engine Co name. In the meantime Fox Walker’s old Atlas works had been purchased by Thomas Peckett, who revived the company under his own name. Edwin Walker now intended to concentrate on industrial, not main line, locomotives and these would be broadly similar to those built by his old firm. The stage was thus set for decades of bitter enmity between the two firms building very similar locomotives.

However, given its previous history it is not surprising that Avonside should produce a far wider range of locomotive types than its rival, which as previously described in the article in NGW-43 pursued an intensely conservative design philosophy throughout its existence. Avonside continued to build some locomotives for the smaller main line companies who had no works of their own. It also evolved a series of standard industrial locomotives as well as various individual designs for industry and export. Among those exported at this time were its only compound types, three 2-6-4 side tanks for the 2ft 6in gauge Junin Railway in Chile. But possibly the most unusual narrow gauge one-off was turned out in 1882. Works number 1337 was a fourcoupled 22-inch gauge machine and was in fact the first locomotive designed by Samuel Geoghegan for the internal narrow gauge system at the Guinness Dublin Brewery. In order to pass over the exceptionally sharp curves on the brewery railway the two cylinders were mounted horizontally on top of the marine-type boiler and drove the wheels via a dummy crankshaft and vertical rods. These were linked to the side rods connecting the wheels. The locomotive was a complete success and a further eighteen were built up to 1921 but all these were constructed locally by William Spence & Sons in Dublin.

James Spooner was to remain the only locomotive Avonside built for a public British narrow gauge line but in among the range of standard gauge 0-4-0 and 0-6-0 saddle tanks a number of narrow gauge industrial steam were also constructed. Many of these were side rather than saddle tanks, all with outside cylinders. An early example was Ascension No. 1, Avonside 1480 of 1904, a 0-4-0T with 8.5in by 12in cylinders and inside valve gear that was built for the 2ft 6 in gauge line operated by the Admiralty on Hoo Ness Island in the Thames estuary. Constant problems with the very poor, salty water meant the locomotive led an unhappy life but its basic design was reworked with outside Walschaerts valve gear and two-foot gauge a decade later for Sezela Sugar estates in Natal.

The two-foot gauge sugar cane tramways of Natal and elsewhere were to become an important market for Avonside, who produced a range of standard side tank designs in 0-4-0, 0-4-2 and 0-6-0 sizes. The Natal market was particularly significant and lasted throughout the company’s life. Many of the sales were made through the agency of Francis Theakston, who had left the famous family brewery to join Arthur Koppel in its London office and during World War 1 had set up his own light railway business with a works at Crewe. Like his larger rivals Robert Hudson he only built rolling stock and track work, buying in locomotives, which as far as steam was concerned came primarily from Avonside, although later some steam was sourced from overseas builders.

Having got the business back on to a sound footing the company relocated to a new site in Bristol at Fishponds in 1905. Apart from its range of standard side tanks it also produced other narrow gauge steam locomotives such as two quaint little 0-4-0STs for the 750mm gauge internal railway at East Greenwich gasworks in London. There was also works number 1547 of 1908, the chunky three-foot gauge 0-6-0T Nancy. This spent all its industrial life on the Leicestershire ironstone tramways and now after many years in storage is being rebuilt for further service in Ireland by Alan Keef Ltd at Ross on Wye.

Although James Spooner was the only complete locomotive Avonside built for a British public narrow gauge line, it did get involved in sundry interesting repair jobs such as reboilering the Lynton & Barnstaple’s Baldwin 2-4-2T Lyn. It also undertook major boiler repairs on the Festiniog’s two Fairlies, that on Merddin Emrys being undertaken shortly before Avonside’s end in 1934. With its rival Peckett being disinclined to work on locomotives not of its own make and no other builders in the south of England, Avonside also did work on a variety of other narrow gauge industrials. This included such odd jobs as re-tyring an early German built petrol locomotive for a local quarry.

As early as 1912 Avonside had begun considering the virtues of the internal combustion engine and in 1914 four small narrow gauge petrol/paraffin locomotives were actually built, all with a two-cylinder engine and side rods coupling the four wheels. The experience gained with these proved useful the following year when the War Office ordered a batch of twelve much larger 0-4-0 petrol locomotives for service on military 2ft 6in gauge lines in the Middle East. These were to a similar specification to some Hawthorn Leslie locomotives previously supplied, having a 60 hp Parsons engine driving through a clutch, four-speed gearbox and a jackshaft at the front on to the side rods.

World War 1 gave Avonside its largest single narrow gauge order in 1916. To cope with greatly increased traffic on the extensive 18in gauge railway serving all parts of Woolwich Arsenal it supplied sixteen ‘Charlton’ class 0-4-0Ts in 1915-16. Clearly based on contemporary sugar estate designs these had outside frames and cylinders on a wheelbase of 3ft 3in and were oil burners. With the gradual run down of the Woolwich system these were the locomotives that were retained with the last survivor, Woolwich, being withdrawn and sold via a dealer to the new Bicton Woodland Railway in Devon in 1962. After many years there it is now at the Waltham Abbey powder works museum where it is hoped eventually to return it to service.

Tough times

Like all the other builders Avonside found the depression years of the 1920s tough going and sometimes had to accept orders at virtually cost price in order to stay occupied. A few orders for petrol locomotives continued to be received and about 1921 the works drawing office schemed out a simple narrow gauge articulated locomotive with a pair of cylinders in ‘V’ formation, clearly influenced by the American Heisler locomotive. The project got as far as producing a sales brochure with a cleverly faked picture that implied that at least one had been built, but it failed to generate any orders so the project was shelved.

In 1928 things began to happen when the company got a new Chief Draughtsman, L.T.Grime, who came down from a more junior post with Hawthorn Leslie at Newcastle. Grime was an exceptionally gifted designer who saw his new post as a chance to show what he could really do given a free hand. Traditional designs were still built but Grime saw new ideas as the way out of the depressed order book. At this time the diesel engine was just starting to be recognised as a superior prime mover to the petrol unit and both Hudswell Clarke and Kerr Stuart had built such locomotives. At the same time Grime realised the articulated locomotive would be attractive to Avonside’s sugar estate customers, as it would give a much more powerful machine that could operate over the lightly laid and badly maintained track of the average estate.

All these ideas came together in 1930 when he designed a double-bogie 0-4-4-0 diesel of two-foot gauge for the Ellingham sugar estate railway in Natal. Works number 2046 had a Gardner 6L2 diesel engine mounted on a full-length main frame of rolled steel sections, which also carried the three-speed gearbox, water and fuel tanks and central cab. The drive was taken to the two bogies via a reversing gearbox mounted centrally with cardan shaft drive to a worm and wheel on the outer axle of each bogie and the wheels connected by conventional side rods.

Although the locomotive remained a one-off it was perfectly successful. More importantly the frame and bogie design was utilised in a twin-cylinder articulated geared steam locomotive that like the earlier stillborn design was based on the Heisler. The first of these was a twin-cylinder version for Renishaw sugar estates and this was followed by several larger four-cylinder versions for Natal Estates. All were of two-foot gauge.

By now it was 1931 with the industrial recession at its worst and Avonside was battling to survive. As well as conventional steam locomotives Grime designed and built several diesels, the last being a pair of small three-foot gauge units for a stone quarry in Somerset. There were narrow gauge steam orders too, notably the five two-foot gauge 0-4-0Ts of entirely new design built in 1933 for the Durham County Water Board’s Burnhope reservoir scheme (see NGW-36 ‘Narrow Gauge in the Hills’). Another interesting order turned out in 1933 was Burnett Hall, a 0-4-2T for the Admiralty’s 2ft 6in inch gauge Chattenden & Upnor Railway down in Kent. When the Admiralty wanted a second similar locomotive the following year the order went to the hated rival Peckett.

Sadly all these efforts to survive were just not enough and on 29 November 1934 the Avonside Engine Co went into voluntary liquidation, the final locomotive built being appropriately another typical two-foot gauge side tank for a Natal sugar estate. The following year the goodwill, drawings and patterns were sold to the Hunslet Engine Co on 10 July 1935. It was a most useful purchase for Hunslet as, apart from much valuable spares business, it inherited a range of well-proven steam designs and diesel locomotive knowledge and experience that would assist in its own efforts in this sphere. Up to the outbreak of war, Hunslet built ten Avonside pattern steam locomotives, including three more articulated steam versions of both the two and four-cylinder type that were completed and shipped to Natal just before war broke out.

Avonside designs continued to be offered after 1945 and one interesting spares order executed about 1955 was the supply for one of the four-cylinder Avonside Heislers of a new bevel gear transmission, replacing the original worm and wheel unit that was worn out. The high cost of cutting this unit had caused Hunslet-built Heislers to use this type of drive from the outset. One of the last new steam locomotive orders turned out by Hunslet was effectively a perpetuation of an Avonside design when two 2ft 6 in gauge 0-6-2Ts were built for the JaynagarJanakpur railway in Nepal in August 1962.

It is ironic that that the number of narrow gauge Avonside in this country has actually increased, thanks to the increasing tendency by the preservation movement to repatriate or import suitable steam locomotives from overseas. Several typical side tanks and an Avonside Heisler have come back from the Natal sugar lines and just recently one of the surviving Durham County Water Board 0-4-0Ts, later Elidir at Dinorwic slate quarries, has returned from Canada. These imports have also included a later Hunslet copy of an Avonside, namely the 1940 0-4-2T Chaka’s Kraal No. 6, which is currently residing at Toddington. It is pleasant to think that although it is over seventy years since Avonside locomotives were built, various examples still give good service and pleasure to all those who get to go and see them.

  1. NARROW GAUGE WORLD – No 52 article
  2. sa-transport
  3. sar-L photo gallery
  4. Sandstone: Gary Barnes's spreadsheet of Cane Locomotives

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