The International Steam Pages

Feldbahn returns to Africa

Sandstone Heritage Trust have a (temporary) new charge:

A remarkable story has played out over the last few weeks that sees a locomotive which was exported from Africa in 1999-2000 returning to South Africa for restoration.

The locomotive has a very interesting history was built by Henschel in 1915, works no. 13779, and served with the DFB in the First World War. Known as the Feldbahn type, an 0-8-0TT, hundreds of these locomotives were built by a variety of German builders such as Orenstein & Koppel, Hartmann, Schwartzkopff, and others for use on the miles of railways serving the trenches, and at other military installations.

After the First World War many of these locomotives were exported around the world and a considerable number found themselves at the Sena Sugar Estates in Mozambique, at the Marromeu and Luabo mills. These closed during the Mocambiquan civil war and most of their locomotives, with the exception of those purchased later by Sandstone, were purchased by a UK based dealer and taken to a quarry in England.

The collection was gradually sold, finding new homes on preserved railways in England, Wales and Germany, and a couple have been restored to working order. Eventually only three Feldbahns were left and were advertised for sale by a locomotive broker. At the eleventh hour a Swiss enthusiast decided to step in and purchase one, and just in time, for he bought the last remaining example, Sena No. 2.

The locomotive is more complete than might be expected and after making enquiries around Europe as to the cost and time scale of getting it restored to working order has chosen Sandstone Heritage Trust as having the skills and expertise as well as cost structure to complete the restoration to a high standard.

So Sena No. 2 was loaded into a container and made the long return journey to Africa and has been offloaded in the eastern Free State and is ready to be assessed to see what work is required and which spares are needed.

Surely a unique story of a locomotive from Europe being exported twice to Africa and a measure of the way this country has progressed in terms of locomotive restoration. It means that, at least for the time being, Sandstone has narrow gauge locomotives manufactured in South Africa, England, Scotland, Germany, Belgium, France and the USA.

This is the locomotive as delivered to Sandstone's Bloemfontein workshop in May 2005:

No doubt within a relatively short time it will be back looking like sister locomotive #3 back in 1969.

This picture by Basil Roberts is just one of a large number from this system which can be found on our CD-ROM Safari Steam.

Rob Dickinson