The International Steam Pages

Vanishing Fijian Steam Locomotives...

This page was updated on 15th October 2012 with two pictures from Mark Hambly of HC 972 and 1056., again on 4th October 2013 with an extra picture of Lautoke #19 as restored, and more pictures of Lautoka 11 on 22nd May 2014). The relocation of the Fowler at Ba was recorded on 26th September 2014.

Once upon a time (some 60 years ago, that is), the sugar tramways of Fiji were home to a large number of 2ft gauge steam locomotives. Information on them is given in the classic book "Cane Train" by Peter Dyer and Peter Hodge, published by the New Zealand Railway and Locomotive Society Inc in 1988, a book which is still in print if you don't have one...

By the time I visited the island in early 1976, steam had finished but a number of the locomotives had been set aside, some were formally preserved. Now with the help of John Browning who last visited in 2006, the best guess of the current situation is given below:

John lists the following as having achieved preserved status and their current fate, the 1976 pictures are naturally mine and John's are those from 2006.

Free train loco (HC 1118) gone. Hardly surprising since it was very rusty when I saw it in Churchill Park.

Hudswell Clarke in Suva (HC 1663) gone 

Fowler near Labasa police station (JF 7879) gone

Lautoka Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0 ex Coral Coast Railway (HC 972) exported to UK, now at the Statfold Barn Railway. This was the loco in store at Lautoka in 1976, in use in 2006 (below) as a diesel conversion and on arrival at the SBR in 2012: Finally as restored on a charter on the Welsh Highland line in May 2014 (courtesy of James Waite). 

Lautoka Hudswell Clarke  0-4-0ST (HC 1056) exported to UK, where it has been sold on and is now at the Statfold Barn Railway (thanks to Mark Hambly for this confirmation). This was it at the mill in 1976 (1st picture), 2006 (2nd picture) and at the SBR (bottom two, courtesy of Mark Hambly and Jeremy Laytham):

Fowler loco in park at Ba (JF 11393) only a hulk remains, this was 10 at the mill in 1976 and in a park in the town in 2006: John Browning reports it has been sent to a yet to be opened museum by September 2014.

Hudswell Clarke at Penang Mill (HC 1658) moderate condition in the open although it gets painted, this was the loco in 1976 (above) and in 2006 (below):

Fowler at Rarawai Mill (JF 11458) kept in reasonable condition albeit in the open. Reported to have been repainted since photographed here in 2006.

Fowler at Labasa Mill with Fowler chassis for a tender (JF 11350 and JF 4788) kept in reasonable condition albeit in the open, this was taken in 2006..

Fowler at hotel in Nadi (JF 10656) kept in very good condition albeit in the open, this was the loco in 1976 (above) and 2006 (below):

Finally FBC News reported in December 2011 that an old steam locomotive had been dug up on the outskirts of Nacokaika village. This was apparently 0-4-0T Couillet 736 of 1884 (Decauville 25 of 1884), named KIDD, which was evidently abandoned on the isolated tramway at Bau Levu upstream of Nausori when replaced by an Andrew Barclay locomotive in 1935. It won't be left to rust in peace, the villagers were reported to be cutting it up for scrap...

Rob Dickinson