The International Steam Pages

Once upon a time, long ago,
Steam in the Philippines 1982, Part 2

Wilson Lythgoe has been circulating friends with some steam pictures taken some time back and with his permission and encouragement they are reproduced on these pages and will be added to from time to time. Click here for the index. which includes a description of a visit to Ma Ao, also on Negros

In January 1982 I spent ten days on the Philippine island of Negros visiting some of the sugar mills that were still using steam engines. Here's a look at two of them........


Victorias was reputed to be one of the largest 2ft gauge systems in the world, with over 400km of track, ten steam and over twenty diesel locomotives. My notes at the time say: 'Mostly diesel but four steamers pottering around on shunts and like the rest of the establishment in pristine condition. Was made to feel quite welcome, given a guide to take me to the various places the steamers were hiding and then left to my own devices.' 

Loco 5-H was an 0-8-0T+T Henschel dating from 1928.

Sister engine 8-H, another Henschel this time from 1932, shows just how small the locomotives were compared with their tender. Considering her spotless condition 8-H had probably just been painted (and maybe overhauled as well).

In brilliant sunshine 23 and 21 work the yard with the mill in the background. Both Davenport's these little locos were supplied in 1949/50 and were the start of the Victorias love affair with the internal combustion engine.

Slightly more work stained than the previous engines 4-H is a 1926 Henschel. This shot shows just how solid and chunky looking these little locos were.


I got to visit this 3ft gauge system twice! The first time I was told steam had finished nine months previously and there was nothing left to see. That didn't concern me too much as there was no field railway system here, with all cane arriving by truck and then being transferred to rail, so carried on. Five days later, when I was heading elsewhere, I saw a blue steamer pottering around in the mill yard. Made urgent noises to the jeepney driver to stop and then walked back to investigate. This time I was told one steamer was still working but by the time I had permission to enter the yard it had disappeared. With the aid of a security guard, assigned to keep an eye on me, we tracked it down to the far side of the mill and surprise, surprise here were two of the beasts and both in steam.

No 5 moves around the yard. The comment on my slide reads 'Vulcan 1924' so there must have been a plate somewhere on the engine with a year on it although I can't see any sign of one in these two pictures Compare the general decrepit look of the place with that of Victorias.

The one diesel I saw. My 'friendly' security man could be wondering whether I was actually allowed to photograph the systems more modern motive power.

No 3.....again with security in evidence! Check out where the headlight is mounted! The loco seems to have fairly large driving wheels for such a small engine. CRJ at the time lists the plate as VIW 2951/1919.

The steam fleet at Talisay-Silay comprised four 0-6-0T+T all supplied by the Vulcan Ironworks of America. I must have been lucky to see two in action as a report in CRJ the following year listed one working and one spare and by December 1983/January 1984 steam was now only spare to two diesels. Hans Hufnagel reported one of the locos had been plinthed in 1985 and Rob Dickinson had to hack back the undergrowth to take this photograph in 1998.

FarRail visited Negros in February 2007 and James Waite reported, on their website, that Victorias closed its rail system in the early 2000's and there was no sign of any of their Henschels or diesels. The only surviving loco was a Baldwin 0-8-0 from 1932 still plinthed at the mill gate as it was when I visited all those years ago. James also reported there is now nothing left at Talisay-Silay with the mill demolished and the locomotives gone.

Rob Dickinson