14 June 2010

Paddock - KZN, Locomotive Graveyard (former ACR engines)

Alfred County Railway (ACR) is an abandoned narrow gauge railway in South Africa, which ran from the southern transport hub of Port Shepstone on the Indian Ocean, via Izotsha and Paddock for 122 kilometres (76 mi) to Harding, KwaZulu-Natal.

You may want to look up the often very confusing! history of the ACR here on Wikipedia.

ACR was finally shut down in 2008 because extensive flood damage to many of the railways bridges along the Hibiscus Coast put these beyond economic repair, and most of the Izotsha rail bridge was washed away.

Thanks to Norman Swart for the following set of pictures taken at Paddock on 5th June 2010.

At the small town of Paddock some distance inland from Port Shepstone, a number of forgotten ex-SAR NGG16 Garratts may be found. These rusty engines may be found to the north of and just outside Paddock at "Claasen's Siding" next to an old derelict saw mill.

In this, and other pictures, a dome of a hidden locomotive with blue liivery is visible - a photo of the engine from the other side was not possible.

ACR apparently had about 17 NG loco's based at Port Shepstone, and some of these were stored at Paddock. The engines currently at Paddock may have been kept as spares for the few actual running engines. A few of the ACR engines were on loan from Transnet Heritage Foundation, (THF) the others were owned by ACR.

This engine has the painted number "142", which then makes it a Garratt SAR class NGG16 Narrow Gauge (2ft width) SAR engine no NG142, which was built in 1958 by Beyer, Peacock & Co Ltd, of Manchester, England as their works no 7867.

These Garratt locomotives are in a very bad state of deterioration and will need hard work to restore - the term "locomotive graveyard" seems fit at the moment.

Norman Swart has discovered this sad scene on the 5th June 2010.

This locomotive appears to have the painted number "126", and is therefore likely to be NG126 = BP 7427/50

Norman said that because of the thick bush it was nearly impossible to photograph all of the locomotives.

Norman thought that there are about 5 or 6 engines. These are all ex-SAR class NGG16's.

Map 1 : Google Earth Aerial view of the Paddock area.

Map 2: Google Earth View indicating position of locomotives next to derelict saw mill siding named "Claasen's Siding". This view is from 2005; by 2010 most of the saw mill's roof had been demolished - evidence visible in locomotive photos above ...

The Banana Express in better days - photo by hinchliff uploaded to Panoramio.

You may find some references on the web to Alfred County Railway:

The Banana Express photo page on sa-transport:

Newspaper mention:

Photos of better days:

Below are some YOUTUBE videos showing the Banana Express in action.

BANANA EXPRESS (Alfred County Railway)
Length: 00:03:44, Sept 1999.
Part 1 of 2
COMMENTS: nickblewitt — March 16, 2008 — Part 1 of 2 A trip on the steam hauled 2 ft gauge Banana Express from Port Shepstone to Paddock in South Africa. Part of a trip by Ffestiniog Travel to South Africa in September 1999.

BANANA EXPRESS (Alfred County Railway)
Length: 00:02:09, Sept 1999.
Part 2 of 2
COMMENTS: nickblewitt — March 16, 2008 — Part 2 of 2 - We ride the full length of the Alfred County Railway attached to the rear of a freight train from Harding to Port Shepstone in South Africa. The previous day, we had done the southern part of ther line on the steam hauled Banana Express. Part of a trip by Ffestiniog Travel to South Africa in September 1999.

BANANA EXPRESS (Alfred County Railway)
The last journey?
Length: 00:08:49, Dec 1990.
COMMENTS: A fine video by Alex Bauman.

The following two videos do not run "embedded" and you need to keep on clicking to watch them in a new window directly on YouTube.

BANANA EXPRESS (Alfred County Railway)
Length: 00:10:08, Dec 1990.
COMMENTS: Sowerbylads January 04, 2009SAR class NG15 at work on the now closed Alfred County Railway in Natal, South Africa. Seen in December 1990 hauling the Banana Express tourist train, this short trip ran from Beach station at Port Shepstone to Izotsha station. There was two trips per day on Saturdays at this time. 146 is currently listed as stored on the Brecon Mountain Railway in Wales.

BANANA EXPRESS (Alfred County Railway)
Length: 00:09:13, Aug 1991.
COMMENTS: Sowerbylads — November 16, 2008 — The Alfred County Railway in Natal, South Africa that ran from Port Shepstone on the Natal Coast to Harding in Kwazulu. This now closed line was the source of motive power for the Welsh Highland Railway in the UK. NGG 16 class Garratts 155, 139 and 141 are seen at work on the Wednesdays passenger mixed from Port Shepstone Beach to Paddock and return. Coaches were added as required on the goods trains that ran to / from Harding. Filmed in August 1991 the week after the Brush with Steam railtour, with David Shepherd. I also met the late Dusty Durrant on that tour. Pic of derelict 141 in current Steam Railway.

  • Garratt on Wikipedia
  • Alfred County Railway on Wikipedia
  • Claasen’s Siding, Paddock: NGG16's no's 114, 125, 126 (these three are owned by THF), 142, 149 (these two owned by Peter Newton). Claasens Siding is on the north side of the line just east of Paddock, it served a sawmill (now closed) and is owned by a local farmer Derek Claasen who maintains security around the locos.


  1. Graveyard cleaned up. Maintenance work begun on locos! 15/2/2012

  2. I spent a year and 2 university Xmas holidays working as a fireman on steam engines based out of Bayhead and Greyville locos. About 18 mths all up. Often did trips to Port Shepstone and although I did not work on narrow gauge engines I had the opportunity to climb over them. Different firing technique. One handed shovel and you had to close and open the firebox door with the other hand to prevent heat loss.
    I did most work on 14Rs, S2s, H2s (coffee pots at Bluff), GO's and GMAM's with the odd 15 class on washout. However I landed up living in Port Shepstone and made many passenger trips on the Banana Express in the 80's. My kids loved the trains. So sad to see it all gone. Lucky still have photos.

  3. hello if anybody knows the where abouts of the locos please contact me. at jcbrickandblock@gmail.com

    1. I was shown the locos in a siding in a sawmill or similar timber facility a short distance to the east of Paddock Railway Station and very close to the Gorgez View Restaurant/Conference Centre/B&B located on the south side of Freeway 2 that leads to Port Shepstone

    2. I later discovered that the sidings are known as Glassen's and Derrick Glassen is involved in the current service and in restoration work being undertaken on carriages and locomotives and in the erection of a roof over parts of the sidings to create a station and workshop

    3. The name of the gentleman involved at Paddock in the refurbishment of the Garratts and the carriages and the running of the current service should read Derrick Classen and the current train is the Humba Weheli Express. My apologies for my errors and best wishes for the future of trains at Paddock.

    4. Name should read Derrick Classen. Sorry

  4. I visited Paddock on 14th and 15th April 2015 and met Roelfe van Wyngaardt who lives near the locomotives and is involved in activities to restore two. Currently a tourist service is operating between Paddock and Plains (my guess about 7 kms) worked by a small Hunslett diesel and a locally built bogie open carriage. There is clearing work being undertaken at the eastern end of the siding at Plains. Paddock station seemed intact and in a fair condition. There are a number of carriages, in poor condition, also stored at the sawmill.

    1. As regards the actual track I could find no traces around Harding but closer to Paddock the track bed came into view and then sections where there were still rails. Beyond Plains I saw no traces until close to the sea where In saw a damaged bridge over a creek. On the outskirts of Port Shepstone the Banana Express Beach Station seemed intact but decrepit and vandalized and there seemed (under the grass) rails through to the Port Shepstone Station yard where there was 3'6" diesel and a "shunter's" van. There was even a section of dual gauge 2'/3"6" track intact under the road overbridge at the northern end of the yard

  5. A couple of apologies and corrections I need to make. The name of the small train currently operating between Paddock and Plains should read "Humba Weheli. The name of the gentleman involved at Paddock with the train and the refurbishment of the Garratts and the steam hauled carriages should read Derrick Classen.

  6. Since my earlier postings I have learned that things have altered at Paddock. The Hamba Weheli Express has ceased operating and locomotives stored at the saw mill site have been disposed of. I do not have much detail but comments have been posted on FaceBook sites Sandstone Heritage Trust/Sandstone Estates - Pty Ltd and Surviving Garratt Locomotives.
    Garratt Locomotives

  7. Two Garratt locomotives were noted on site at Classen's Sawmill, Paddock, on 10 April 2019. One appears to be 139 (black), and I believe that the other is 151 (green) which has the leading engine unit separated.

  8. Track laying to a newly designated steam shed. Something happening, albeit slow.

  9. no 151 still outside in the yard whilst no 139 has been moved into the new shed. One of the guards vans has had the wooden cladding removed with a new floor made and the frame painted in red oxide. The newly laid track into the shed looks very risky as there are no sleepers or cross ties to hold the rails together, I don't know how they moved the loco in without gauge widening occurring.
    Something happening. Very slowly

  10. I used to run that workshop when Derrick Classen owned CONDEC construction, I maintained the machinery and also the machinery on the sugar cane farm across Oribi Gorge. There were still quite a few old steam engines there and the shed next to the railway line was still intact. These were previously South African Railways workshops. I left there in August 1999.