Finding Elizabeth and George

In May 2009 I set out to find “Elizabeth” and “George”, two plinthed locomotives that were operated by Johannesburg Electricity Department (now City Power Johannesburg). Both were in use at what was then Orlando Power Station until they were replaced by diesels, and surprisingly enough both have survived. 

My brother mentioned to me that there was a “train in Heronmere” and that was not much to go on, but I drove slowly along Heronmere Road until I reached the gates of the City Power offices in Reuven and spotted a plinthed steam engine inside the depot. He was right! 

It took a bit of sniffing to find out what the loco was though, and Piet Conradie once again came to the rescue with his excellent Old Steam Locomotives in South Africa blog.

Once I knew more I approached the security at the depot and asked them if I could go in and photograph the loco, and they kindly gave me permission (Thanks guys).

This blue beauty is “Elizabeth”, a 0-6-0ST saddle tank engine that was built by Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns Ltd in 1954 (works number 7805). She was in a remarkably good condition and well maintained when I took these images on 10 May 2009. 

Surprisingly her boiler backhead still had a lot of the original controls on it, although the gauge glasses were gone. 

Unfortunately I was not allowed in the cab, but at least could get a decent image of it.

I was suitably chuffed with my discovery and lapsed back into apathy.

But then Piet managed to locate the illusive “George” and with some close eyeballing of Google Earth I headed off to the Municipal Depot on the corner of Durban and End Street in Johannesburg (I think that end of town is known as “City and Suburban”).

Once at the depot I approached security who pointed me to the person in charge who was only too happy for me to photograph their little red engine.

“George” is a 0-4-0ST saddle tank engine and she too (he too?) was built by Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns Ltd in 1948, works number 7398, which makes her the older of the pair.

Along with her sister she too served  at the Orlando Power Station which was run by the Johannesburg Electricity Department. Surprisingly enough she is fitted with air brake equipment

Access to her is difficult as it depends on the mood of security and the people in charge at the time, and that was partly why she was in such a good condition when I photographed her in 2009.  

Oddly enough most of the people I encountered were proud of her and she was well looked after. Her boiler backhead also still had it’s controls and gauge glasses.

As a final thought, somebody had even managed to obtain a semaphore and it had been erected at the site too. I know I have ridden past that semaphore many times and it never registered that there may have been railway equipment somewhere in that area.

How long they had been there is almost impossible to know, but foresight has ensured that these two locomotives did not end up being cut up and were preserved intact, certainly they were both looking great in 2009 when I saw them.

© DRW 2009-2022. retrospectively recreated 19/04/2017. Special thanks to the helpful staff that I encountered during my visits, and to Piet Conradie who has documented all of these old plinthed steamers.

This entry was posted in Heritage, Heritage Rail, Hobbies and Interests, Johannesburg, Personal, Photo Essay, Retrospective, South Africa, Transportation and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.