Yesterday while rooting for images I found some that rang many bells in my head. The events surrounding the closure of SANRASM (South African National Railways and Steam Museum) in Ranfontein have long faded into history. The remnants scattered around the country, or made into razor blades, the site where it all happened is probably now unrecognisable. Amongst the items that were saved were 4 small steam engines that belonged to Escom. The Eskom of today bears no resemblance to the Escom of the pre 1994 days, and most of these engines were probably on pension long before Eskom became a dirty word in South Africa. I will not dwell on the events at Eskom post 1994 though. It is beyond the scope of what we do here.
I was fortunate enough to watch them load those precious engines onto low loaders and take them away, and their subsequent disposal is unknown, although I did see an article that hinted that not much had happened with them, unfortunately the article was behind a paywall so I never did find out what it ws about. At the time of the moves I was asked to not publish the images, but over 10 years has passed so I think it is time that they see the light of day.
The most “famous” of the four was “Kitty”, probably one of the oldest steam engines to last in service in South Africa. She was in a poor condition when she was moved on 20 December 2010, along with he other fleetmate “Hunslet”. The first pair were stored in the open in what was known as “South Site”. They had been vandalised over the years, and were victims of the “grass is too long” style of management.
“Kitty” was a Kitson 4-6-0 tank locomotive No.2269 and was built in 1879 for the Natal Government Railways by Kitson and Co, Leeds. She was bought by Victoria Falls and Transvaal Power Company in 1913 and was in service hauling coal between Modrea Station and the Brakpan Power Station until moved to Rosherville Power Station in 1920. In 1979 she completed a century of service and was proclaimed a National Monument in 1983. She was moved to SANRASM in 1993 but was removed from the site in December 2010. She was finally plinthed at Eskom Rotek Industries in 2016.
“Hunslet” was a 2-6-0ST Hunslet saddle tank loco No.790, built in 1902 to a Table Bay Harbour Board design. The Victoria Falls and Transvaal Power Company bought Hunslet in 1912, and she too was put to work hauling coal hoppers from Modrea station to Brakpan power station. From 1922 she worked at the Vereeniging power station until it closed down in 1967, when she was transferred to Rosherville for overhaul. She served in a number of places between then and when she was retired, eventually joining her fleetmate “Kitty” at SANRASM. She too was uplifted in December 2010. Her current situation is not known.
“La-Moye” was 2-4-0T tank locomotive built in 1907 by Andrew Barclay & Co Ltd, of Kilmarnock, Scotland for the Jersey Island Railways as their No 5 and was named “La Moye”. The Victoria Falls and Transvaal Power Company bought her from the Jersey Island Railways in 1928 and she was shipped to South Africa in September 1928. She was the last survivor of the Jersey Railway. She served in a number of power stations between 1928 and 1993 when she was retired. She ended up locked in a shed at SANRASM until returned to Eskom on 3 February 2011. Her current whereabouts are not known.
“Henschel” was a 1950 2-6-2T tank loco built by Henschel & Sohn as a one off for Vierfontein Power Station. She served at Vierfontein as well as Komati Power Station and later at Hendrina power station until early 19995 when she joined her sisters at SANRASM. For some unknown reason she was kept locked away in a shed at the “North Site” along with her fleetmate “La-Moye”. She was returned to Eskom on 3 February 2011. Her current whereabouts are not known.
Unfortunately I never saw Henschel leaving so have no pics of her heading out of there. Kudo’s to these guys.
And finally: there was one other ex-Escom loco present and I did not see her moved or loaded and although I believe she was moved in March 2011.
Avonside was built in 1927 by Avonside Engine Company, for Union Steel Corporation (USCO). She was bought 1932 by Victoria Falls and Transvaal Power Company for Witbank power station. When the power station closed down in 1970 she was taken to Rosherville and served there for a number of years before being overhauled and sent to Grootvlei Power Station to haul coal from 1980-1982 and later Camden Power Station and worked there until 1984 before being stored and retired in 1989. She was sent to SANRASM in 1990. Stored in the open at North Site she managed to survive a fire that destroyed most of the site. Her position on the site made it very difficult to remove her and she was a lonely survivor.
This all happened over 10 years ago, and sadly the Escom locos were a very contentious subject at the time. They were a unique group of machines that served our power stations and have all but slipped into history. Sadly they were not as well looked after as George And Elizabeth, 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. They may be read about on the applicable blogpost.
DRW 2022. Created 30/04/2022