The Decauville finds its true name!
The jewel of the Sandstone 2ft Narrow gauge collection is, without doubt, the small Decauville 0-4-0T locomotive, works number 302, built in 1899 in France. Since its discovery at the Dombe Grande sugar estate in Benguela Province, Angola, in 2003 we have believed the name to be “BATHALA”. Some research by railway historian, John Middleton has unearthed the attached picture of the locomotive at the Dombe Grande Museum in 1970 where Sandstone ultimately found it some 33 years later. It is very clear that we had the correct name but that it is actually spelt differently as “BATALHA”. A similar pronunciation and it would seem, at the time of its discovery, we were given the incorrect spelling. Nevertheless we are now going ahead to manufacture some new name plates with the correct spelling to be fitted to the loco.
The picture also shows a plate on the chimney, presumably both sides, with “CDG No. 1” on it. DG must be Dombe Grande but was does the C stand for. Would anyone have an idea on this?
“BATALHA” is the name of a town in Centro Region, Portugal. We can’t yet find a direct connection to Dombe Grande but perhaps it is where the owners of the sugar estate originated from?
It is fascinating how, 20 years after Sandstone found the locomotive, we discover another piece of important history relating to Decauville number 302 of 1899.
Our black and white photograph shows the locomotive in the Dombe Grande museum in 1970 with the “BATAHLA” plates and the colour picture, as restored by Sandstone in 2005.