Exciting news this month is that provisional arrangements are currently in hand to move our historic SAR 19D locomotive No 3 from the Sappi Pulp Mill at Umkomaas to the Patons Country Railway depot at Creighton. This will initially be for storage but once at Creighton an inspection will be carried out to examine the possibility of overhauling the engine for use on the EshayaMoya Express tourist trains.
Creighton station is located on the former SAR line from Pietermaritzburg to Kokstad and Patons have ambitious plans for the area. These include the restoration of Mason's Mill steam depot as a working museum, developing local rail infrastructure and overhauling locomotives to support running steam on the Cape Natal line. There are already several steam locomotives associated with the project including 19D 2669, GCA 2621 and GF 2416, Further details can be found on the Patons Country Railway website : http://www.pcngr.co.za/Crtnproject/crtnproject.htm
Moving the locomotive to Creighton will alleviate the short-term risk of scrapping but we urgently need to raise a further £3,000 to cover road haulage and loading costs. A £100 Shares Scheme is to be introduced to give donors to this project a real stake in the locomotive but all donations, large and small are urgently needed to fund the move. It still remains our intention to return the locomotive to the UK for preservation in the longer term so if you are able to help in any way please contact us as soon as possible. Further details will follow in our March Newsletter.
Further to the article by Geoff Courtney in last September’s ‘Heritage Railway’ magazine, I am delighted to tell you that our Group has now acquired the last working SAR Class 19D 4-8-2 at the Sappi Saiccor pulp mill railway for preservation. The locomotive has been donated to us free of charge as a goodwill gesture by the Sappi Management at no cost to ourselves.
Brief details of the locomotive are as follows : ex SAR No 2767, RSH Works No 7280 of 1947, current number ‘Saiccor No 3’. Some photos of the engine are attached. The locomotive was in fact constructed at the same work as our Appeal engine No. 61662 'Manchester United'.
This news may come as a bit of a surprise to some people as the locomotive was built by Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns in Darlington rather than by NBL. However, this particular engine has great significance as, when it was taken out of service in August last year, it was one of the last conventional British steam locomotives in regular service anywhere in the World.
Saiccor No 3 only missed being a North British engine by just a few months as it was the third from last to be built by RSH in 1947, the following batch of 50 19D’s being constructed by NBL in 1948. Sir Nigel Gresley once described the 19D’s as ‘one of the best steam locomotive designs the World has ever seen’ so the chance for us to acquire one in full working order was too good an opportunity to miss.
As mentioned in the Heritage Railway article, the preservation of No 3 has come about due to an excellent working relationship that was developed with Sappi by small number of our Members during regular visits to the line over the last 25 years. We are now planning to work with local groups in the Darlington area to seek Lottery Funding return the locomotive to its birthplace for display.
Some of our major donors have very kindly agreed to the the temporary use of some existing funding to enable us to kick start the 19D shipping appeal but please be assured that general funds already donated by individual Members for current projects such as the Dubs Tank and the Hendrie Class 1 will continue to be ‘ring-fenced’ for these specific locomotives. Funding for the Engine 61662 Appeal is entirely separate from NBL projects and will be unaffected. Donations towards the cost of moving the 19D will of course be welcomed and full details of the new appeal will follow in due course.
In the meantime, please be assured that our commitment to preserving North British locomotives remains unchanged. Thank you all for your continued support.
The demise of the B17 Class locomotives was greatly mourned by enthusiasts of the day and it was thought that they had gone for good. However, there is now a huge swell of support for steam railways in the UK and the incredible success of the new LNER ‘Tornado’ locomotive has encouraged preservation groups like ours to rebuild long lost engines. In March 2008 we started research on the ‘Manchester United’ steam locomotive project and we are now in a position to move to the first phase of construction. One of the key elements to enable this decision was the recent discovery of more than 250 original North British Locomotive Company B17 drawings in the National Railway Museum at York. Without these it would have been very difficult to complete the locomotive.