Railway Heritage

Sandstone’s Lawley to be modelled in 1:19 scale.

100526367 Sandstone 97 FE 263 1897 BR7 FE 232 1895 Hoekfontein

Sandstone’s two Lawleys, BR7 and NG97, are the inspirations for the new Accucraft models.

Accucraft are famous for their live steam models and David Fletcher visited us some time ago to measure up our Decauville for a model. Now they are proposing a 1:19 scale model of the Lawley locomotive with drawings by David Fletcher and information from Andries Keyser, a good friend of Sandstone. You can see full details of the project at the following link:


For a view of the Decauville model please click on the following link:

Sandstone’s Decauville 0-4-0T live steam model in 7/8ths scale. (sandstone-estates.com)

The Funkey Diesel takes on a Springbok livery!

To celebrate the Springbok’s victory over the British & Irish Lions on their recent tour of South Africa, our Funkey Diesel has been given a makeover in green and gold!

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NGG16A Second Steam Test

Newly restored NGG16A No. 155 was given a second static steam test this week to check some various issues with leaks and piping issues highlighted in the first test. It is expected to conduct a light load trial soon.

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NGG16A number 155 steams for the first time since 2000.

NGG16A number 155 has undergone its first steam test at Sandstone after an 18 month restoration process that began in January 2020 with the boiler being sent to Wonder Steam in Pretoria. On the return of the boiler in June 2020, Gert Jubileus and his team at Sandstone began the restoration. Using the modified engine units donated by the owners of the other NGG16A, number 141, Phil Mortimer senior and Phil Mortimer junior the locomotive has been assembled over the last twelve months. Most parts were sourced from the spares that Sandstone has acquired over the years but with the special nature of 155, many pieces had to be made up. This was particularly difficult with the very different copper piping required for the modified 155 but on 11th June 2021, number 155 steamed for the first time in 21 years. This was a test for the integrity of the boiler tubes and stays which all passed inspection. Now the brick arch will be assembled and fitted into the firebox ready for a road test on the Sandstone Steam Railway. This is the first locomotive rebuilt at Sandstone since the closure of the Bloemfontein Works facility in 2019 and only the third locomotive rebuilt at Sandstone’s Hoekfontein Workshop since Lawley BR7 and Fowler number 14316 in April 2002 and the 30th steam locomotive restored by Sandstone. A major milestone for the Sandstone Steam Railway!

Our gallery shows the test with the locomotive now fitted with its number plates.

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NG4 SAR number NG16

This small tank locomotive is a favourite at Sandstone having been acquired from Port Shepstone in 2003 where it had been abandoned in the bush. It started its life at Port Shepstone in 1916 and then worked on the Estcourt to Weenen Branch. It ended its SAR days as yard shunter at Port Shepstone and was sold to Rustenburg Platinum Mines (RPM) It was bought back from the Mine for preservation by South African Railways when the two foot gauge sytem at RPM was closed around 1967. From then on the locomotive did an extensive tour of South Africa. It was first stored at De Aar depot and then moved to Milner Park in Johannesburg and subsequently to the District Engineers Office in Langlaagte. With the opening of the Humewood Road Narrow Gauge Museum in Port Elizabeth, number 16 was moved there as an exhibit before finally returning to its original operating line at the privately owned Alfred County Railway in Port Shepstone where it was abandoned.

Mark Ruddy, a steam driver, from Port Elizabeth (now Gqeberha ) sent us this picture of the NG4 arriving at Humewood Road Depot on a 3’6”gauge DZ wagon for display at the recently opened museum in the mid-80s. Two other pictures show it in the display shed at Humewood Road and hard at work at Sandstone. Our thanks to Mark for permission to use this rare photograph of the NG4.

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NGG16A heads towards the finish line.

With its first steaming expected by the end of May, the return to service of NGG16A number 155 is well on track. Recently we received the various plates, including the number plates, for the locomotive which will be fitted shortly. The number plate shows Alfred County Railway as it was this operator who classified number 155 as NGG16A after its extensive modifications in 1990.

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The Top 10 Consists.

With the running of trains at Sandstone seriously limited by Covid 19 we thought our readers would enjoy some pictures of the varied consists we can assemble at Sandstone. Our gallery shows NGG16s numbers 88 (in green livery) and 153 hauling a variety of loads. All photography by Rod Hering.

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A spectacular repaint for NGG16A number 155.

As the final mechanical work proceeds on 155 the locomotive has been sprayed in the colour, Mexican Red, which Shaun McMahon, who was at ACR and involved in the conversion of 155, has advised is the correct colour. The locomotive was prepared for spray painting by David Mpholo at Sandstone and sprayed initially in grey primer. For the final coat, Janki Palmer took over and our pictures show the spectacular and exciting finish on the loco. Some mechanical work, mainly piping, is ongoing.


Our gallery shows 155 in primer and then the finished article with Janki Palmer inspecting his work. The paint work below the running plate is still to be completed.

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Sandstone’s unique 6th class number 544 gets a clean-up.

Ex South African Railways Class 6C number 544 is one of a large number of this type of locomotive in various sub classes built in the late 19th century for railway administrations in South Africa. Number 544 is unique in that it is the last survivor of six of the type built for the Orange Free State Government Railways in 1896 as their number 73. At the end of the Boer War number 73 was taken into Central South African Railways  stock as their number 349. In 1910 when the Union of South Africa came into being together with a new railway administration, South African Railways, number 349 was classified 6C and renumbered 544 and ended her days as the depot shunter at Bethlehem loco. In 1972 the locomotive was overhauled and presented to the Bethlehem Museum after a lifetime of service in the Bethlehem area. 

In 2008 space considerations at the museum meant that 544 had to move and she was taken to Sandstone for future preservation. The locomotive is plinthed under cover in the main complex close to the Waenhuis Restaurant. Number 544 is a worthy candidate for preservation being the last surviving locomotive of the Orange Free State Government Railways.

After a full repaint some two years ago, 544 has undergone a spring clean and sparkles on her plinth.

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Historic ESKOM steam locomotives under threat.

Timeslive recently broke a story on the fate of ESKOM’s historic steam locomotives. Back in 2011, ESKOM retrieved their locomotives from SANRASM and most people probably didn’t think any more about it assuming they were safely in a warehouse at Rosherville. However, ongoing industrial railway research by John Middleton discovered the locomotives dumped on the ground in the open in a remote part of the Rosherville complex where they have lain for 10 years. The historic 1879 built KITSON was taken out of the yard in 2016, repainted and plinthed in the Rosherville complex and appears secure but the others make quite a woeful sight.


The five locomotives still in the yard are all unique
BARCLAY, 1907 built 2-4-0T originally Jersey Railway (Channel Islands) No. 5 and the only survivor of that railway – it came to SA in 1928
HUNSLET, 1902 built 2-6-0ST, the last survivor of a design originally built as Table Bay Harbour Board locomotives
AVONSIDE, 1928 built 4-8-2T and the last survivor of the “Super Avonside” design meant as a competitor to the North British 4-8-2T design
HENSCHEL, 1950 built 2-6-2T an unusual one-off ordered by ESKOM for coal traffic
“BERLINER”, 1926 built 0-6-0T, originally Blinkpan Colliery

The positive side of this story is that it elicited a positive response that clearly opens the door to partners coming in and assisting ESKOM to save these very historic locomotives from a decay into oblivion.

The question now is how to build on this.

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Steaming into 2021

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As many of our readers know, NGG13 number 59 is at the Hempstead and Northern Rail Road in Texas where Robert Bucher set up the railway after visiting South Africa many times in the 1980s and documenting the narrow gauge, particularly Estcourt to Weenen.

Number 59 has been fitted with a most impressive USA style whistle, Garratt Bucher says it is a Chinese 6" 5 chime and is  99% sure it is a copy of an American whistle made by the Star Brass Company. 

It certainly makes a glorious sound as this short video of number 59 is steam shows. Enjoy!


Some updates to the NG10

NG10 number 61 has seen limited use since Stars of Sandstone 2019 but had developed a couple of teething problems, namely a leaking regulator gland in the cab and a sticking vacuum brake cylinder on the tender. As there was little urgency on this other projects were pursued, however, the locomotive was scheduled for a wedding train in December so both items were attended to. Our picture gallery shows number 61 on test and in the loco depot awaiting the call of duty. The loco had  to be stood down as the client doubled the size of the wedding party and the consequent weight of the train meant that NGG16 number 153 had to be substituted. Nevertheless the NG10 now waits her next call of duty.

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A number plate for NG16a number 155

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Locomotive Galleries

Locomotives Galleries

The Sandstone Railway stock list has been a feature of the website for many years. For 2021 we are adding a photo gallery of all our locomotives in 5 parts.

Part 1 Narrow gauge steam (ex SAR)

Part 2 Cape Gauge Steam (ex SAR)

Part 3 Cape Gauge Industrial

Part 4 Narrow Gauge Industrial

Part 5 Diesel locomotives

We hope you enjoy them!

Railway Preservation, what will 2021 bring?

Railway Preservation

A recent post on this web site on November 4th 2020 reflected on a 1997 document, “Where to private rail use in SA?”, that discussed the potential private rail use in South Africa and was effectively the launch template for Sandstone’s original rail industry plans for commercial and tourism operations which, as we know, were not realised. However this  ultimately led to the development of the2ft gauge Sandstone Steam Railway that is now world famous. Wilfred Mole, the driving force behind the railway, now reflects on the position of the 2ft gauge Sandstone Steam Railway in the larger picture of Railway Preservation in South Africa today. Click here to read more