The International Steam Pages

Stationary Steam in Mauritius

Torsten Schneider reports on his January 2007 explorations. See also his steam locomotive report and James Waite's report of his 2005 trip with its tantalising suggestions. Since the report was first filed, Torsten has sent some images. Extra information has now been provided by Andre Roulllard who worked in the industry here (19th May 2012). See also Thomas Kautzor's 2012 report for further information.

Bel Air: I have no idea about the equipment inside the mill. It can be visited by organised tour (White Sands Tours). 

Beau Champ: apart from the two locomotives, also on display in the open are two stationary engines, among them one by Harvey Engineering, Glasgow 1907.

Beau Plan: outside the L’Aventure du Sucre sugar museum near Pamplemousses on display is an engine by W.&A. McOnie Engineers, Glasgow 1860.

Bois Cheri tea factory: They acquired two ex Government Railway locomotives in 1961. The boiler of one of them (engine no. F4268, built in the U.K. in 1925 according to a description) was used between 1968 and 1982 and is now displayed in the museum. The other one (unidentified) was used during my visit to produce steam. Yes, I saw “working“ steam on Mauritius in 2007! 

(James adds: I had some interesting correspondence from two individuals who picked up on the notes I sent Rob, both working on trying to identify which locos the two boilers come from. It was evident that they were both expert on the MGR and they eventually reached a consensus on the locomotives concerned, partly based upon speculation that the MGR bought two new (but different) spare boilers towards the end of their existence and that it's likely that it would be these two boilers which would have been sold to Bois Cheri when the railway closed as they were then still quite new. To cut a long story short one of them wrote a series of articles about all the MGR locos in great detail in 4 issues of the Stephenson Locomotive Society Journal in 2006.).

Mon Trésor Mon Désert: When I went for the O&K loco, I was given a short tour through the mill. Inside, obviously still working during sugar production, was Mirrlees Watson, Glasgow no.11735. Some other antiquated equipment seemed to be driven by more modern motors. 

St. Félix: Also displayed outside the factory are several stationary steam engines, among them:
Mirrlees Watson, Glasgow no. 8139 and no. 11094, and A.& W. Smith & Co. Ltd., Glasgow no.1291. 
Inside the mill there seemed to be only fairly modern equipment.

Finally, James had hinted to me that Mon Désert Alma sugar mill still has working stationary steam engines. I could not get in. Asking the guard and ringing the mill did not lead to any information. 

Here are the images:

This preserved engine at Beau Champ bears the legend " SE, Harvey Engineering, Glasgow 1907". Andre Rouillard informs me that this is a slow speed vacuum pump and there was an identical machine at Mon Desert -  Mon Tresor..

This engine at Mon Désert, Mon Trésor, Mirrlees Watson, Glasgow, no.11735, appeared to be still working during sugar production (July to mid December), 
but not during the visit. It is a high speed vacuum pump according to Andre Rouillard.

This is milling equipment at Mon Désert, Mon Trésor. It has a modern drive, but basically it seems to be a dual drive for two mills. Andre Rouillard informs me that this was the drive for mills 3 and 4.

Outside St.Félix, is a fine array of old engines. This Mirrlees no.11094 looks to have been a vacuum pump.

This engine is marked as A.& W.Smith & Co.Ltd., Glasgow, no.1291. Andre Rouillard suggests it was probably a mill engine here until 1952 when a Mirrlees Watson dual drive engine was bought from Mon Loisir.

This is another Mirrlees, no.8139, judging from its size it was a compressor.

The king of preserved steam in Mauritius is this magnificent beam engine at the museum L'Aventure du Sucre (on Beau Champ SE), W.& A.McOnie, 
Glasgow. Andre Roulllard comments that this engine built in 1861 worked at Grande Rosalie mill until 1931 when that factory shut down. It was then transferred to Beau Plan where it was used until 1950. That year a Mirrlees Watson dual drive engine was bought from the Sans Souci mill consisting of a crusher and four mills (built in 1911) which can still be seen at the museum, and fortunately the McOnie engine was preserved. Note the gear wheel on the crankshaft, I guess this was a milling engine.

Rob  Dickinson