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Galloping through Ennersdale with the down Bergville mixed. Good quiz question: where on the Natal Main Line could one find regular steam on real trains until the late s? Answer: Between Estcourt and Ennersdale, eight miles north, where the Bergville branch takes off towards the north-west. Phil recorded a number of different workings which included main line coaches. These were often for scholars and students attending Schools and Varsity camps in the Natal Midlands.

The loads invariably needed double heading, as in this image of two class 8s giving it all they have to lift a heavy train towards Bergville.


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Note the marshalling of the train with bogie wagons leading the coaches followed by the short wagons and then the branch line composite van at the rear. The leading main line coach is a Hendrie balcony second class of type E It was not only additional main line coaches which necessitated double heading. The frequent livestock movements to auctions or the abattoirs required double heading as well.

Unfortunately the whole train is not visible but at least the first 5 wagons are type GZ cattle wagons.


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The locomotives appear to be working hard in this shot of a down train between Rosedale and Draycott. Phil once mentioned that he often had to walk some distance to get the precise view he wanted. At the same beautiful location Phil has captured the very essence of a SAR branch-line train in the early 60s, serving predominantly rural agricultural areas with well-maintained track and locomotives.

The third class main line coach framed between the trees is of type H Although having lived in the Estcourt district for twenty years, I must admit that the branch line to Bergville initially runs through perhaps the most uninspiring country to be found anywhere in Natal.

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The engine: Mr. Three class 8s in one picture was something to record as late as the s. The crossing of the two trains does not look as if it was going to be easy to execute; that road with the wagon on it is a dead end. Unfortunately we cannot name the siding. Class 19AR was in charge and was beautifully captured on film by Dick Manton at km The up mixed curving into Rosedale. Eugene Notes:. The cement wagons were supplying the Drakensberg Pumped Water Storage Scheme, which was under construction at the time - The concrete sleepers alongside the line were awaiting installation for the coming dieselisation of the branch.

Later on the same day, p latform duties were underway on 6 February after Train No. Class 19 No was shunting its train at the Bergville end of Winterton. Note the coal-trimmer pushing coal forward in the tender and the flagman protecting the road crossing. Obviously, the latter was a regular occurrence as evidenced by the bicycle leaning against the stop sign. Class 19A arriving [at Winterton] on Train No. This locomotive had crossed Train No. Note the pit in the foreground, which was probably used to service the locomotive on the conditional short working to Winterton, and the amazing points tumblers, white on top for normal and red for diverge.

Departing Winterton five minutes early at on 6 February , class 19 No. An arrangement was made with the driver to photograph the train departing Winterton. If the train had been travelling any faster, I would not have made it back onto the train. That was the first time this was tried and never again, even earlier at Fauresmith where the train ran up the street.

It is afternoon and the fireman of attends to his injector. In July and an unknown 19D has completed its shunting and departs Winterton for Bergville. The scene captures not only the local populace engaged in their normal day to day lives but also the Natal Railways architecture from the colonial station building, to the row of fire buckets, the post office public telephone box and alongside it, the SAR train control phone.

In the background is evidence of the impending dieselisation in the form of concrete sleepers for heavier rail or more likely a move by another very competent SAR Senior District Engineer at Ladysmith Cedric "Cast Iron" Viljoen to upgrade his district's branch lines to improve maintenance productivity. In the background is the Drakensberg. The presence of many GZ wagons in these trains was indicative of Bergville's importance for the cattle and dairy industries of the area.

The fireman of 19D number moves the engine away from the Winterton water column in preparation for the various shunting moves required of the Saturday "mixed" working from Estcourt to Bergville in April The coach was a unique SAR development. Given the racial segregation in the country at the time, this type of vehicle was developed for branch lines offering first and second class accommodation for whites, the same separately for non-whites and for passengers travelling third class, each with their own access door, as well as baggage and guard's accommodation.

It was in essence a complete train in one vehicle. The type VC illustrated in this view was of the latest design of which no less than 73 were built between and In the official documents they were called 'five-classes vans' but because they had 3 toilets, to the irreverent they were referred to as tri-bog compos. Then it was said that shunting was an expensive exercise and only shippers who could fill a train that ran direct from A to B should be encouraged.

In the end most of the branch lines serving agricultural areas died and many people ended up on social grants, not able to contribute to the economy at a ll. In July an unknown 19D is drifting across the bridge spanning the Little Tugela River on its return from Bergville with the Saturdays mixed train.

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A second freight was rostered to run that day but cancelled at the last minute due to absence of a guard. After a booked loco servicing and shunting stop of 43 minutes at Winterton station, 19D is getting under way again, crossing the Little Tugela river with the 'Daily except Sundays' Mixed train from Estcourt to Bergville. Date was 11 November Four local ladies have left the shelter of the waiting room at Evershalt siding to board the arriving 'Daily except Sundays' mixed train from Estcourt to Bergville, worked by 19D My copy of the SAR timetable shows the spelling of this siding's name as Eversholt as does Google Maps 41 years later , but someone clearly had decided it was to be Evershalt!

Note the two derailers at each end of the loop. On the return run from Bergville in July , class 19AR again made a beautiful picture, at Km Originally known as the Hongerspoort Line Upper Tugela Branch , this branch junctioned off the main line at Oliviershoek Road later Ennersdale and proceeded in a north-westerly direction towards the Drakensberg.

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It was built to serve the agricultural area which was established after the completion of an irrigation scheme in The last section 18 miles 27 chains to Bergville was built by the SAR and officially opened on 5 January Photo credit: National Archives, Pietermaritzburg.

Bruno Martin. Following disassembly of the arriving train from Estcourt and engine requirements, class 19 No is coming off shed at Bergville on 6 February A friend in Pietermaritzburg said that thirteen species of eucalypts were imported from Australia including wattle acacia pycnantha. However, with nearly 1, different species of the genus acacia, further investigations showed that the weeping wattle peltophorum africanum is native to Africa south of the equator. Also note the pool of water in the foreground, so there must have been rain overnight.

Unfortunately, the pool was not big enough to result in a reflection shot. The one road engine shed at Bergville marked the end of the branch line from Estcourt and, on the 11th November , it housed a rather sad looking 19AR which seemed to have reached the end of its road as well. With 19D's having taken over all the duties on the branch and the arrival of the diesels not too many months away, it seemed unlikely that this locomotive would steam again.

The loco was returned to Hilton, where another preservation group subsequently took over from USR. I understand it was eventually withdrawn from service and remains at Hilton awaiting attention, including major boiler overhaul see also photo It dates back to the mids after the first phase of electrification of the Natal Main Line. Note the station nameboard — white letters on a black background.

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Note the overall cleanliness and general organised look about the station; also the well-tended garden — often a feature of country stations on the old SAR. Sadly today, such scenes are no longer to be found! It would be interesting to know how many photographs have been taken of train Up Up from 2 December and Up from 5 December , the obscure 06h00 from Estcourt to Ladysmith.

Here it is seen leaving Frere station behind a single class 5E1 and crossing the Bloukrans River. In a few moments it will round a curve to the right where, during the Anglo Boer War, Winston Churchill was captured by the Boers and where there is now a monument commemorating the event. Note the goods guards van bringing up the rear, a practice not uncommon at the time. The escort was composed of half a company of Dublin Fusiliers, and another half company of Durban Light Infantry, of whom are missing.

Winston Churchill is among the missing. The armoured train consisted of, in the front, a flat truck with a seven-pounder gun, manned by a petty officer and five bluejackets from Her Majesty's ship Tartar. It contained men in all.

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The train was despatched for the purpose of reconnoitring the Boer positions near Colenso and to ascertain the truth of reports that railway track had been destroyed. The troops were entrained and left Estcourt at six o'clock in the morning. The train ran forward to Chieveley, where a body of the enemy was seen. The enemy opened a cannonade at a range of about 2, yards. The Boers also had tilted a rail.

Instantly two of the trucks were overturned and the third was derailed. Many of our men were injured. The infantry opened a rifle fire on the Boers, who were advancing on the west side of the line and held them in check. Churchill remained at Frere to assist the other soldiers. Meanwhile our bluejackets fired their seven-pounder, the petty officer bravely laying and serving the weapon against the cannonade.

He sent three shells bursting among the enemy, who numbered some The Boers poured shot and shellfire into the crippled train A shell struck and hurled [the seven-pounder] away, overturning the truck. The only newspaper correspondent present was Mr. Winston Churchill, who distinguished himself by his courageous conduct, as did also Wagner, the driver, and Stuart, the stoker of the engine.

The troops, who had maintained a hopeless fight with great courage, were overpowered. A few managed to escape, but the majority were either killed or wounded or taken prisoners. Churchill was last seen advancing with a rifle among the Dublin Fusiliers. He is believed to have surrendered himself to cover the retreat. Within a year of his highly publicised capture and escape, Churchill became a Conservative MP at the age of Chieveley — the site of the derailment that led to Churchill being captured by a Boer Kommando.

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This photo shows three railway formations with the original NGR one on which Churchill's train was derailed on the extreme left. Bruno Martin provided the following details:. A southbound railtour departing from Ladysmith c Note the bell-buffers on the 1Es and the original multi-frame pantographs.

Lots of 1Es present as well as class ES shunters at the other end of the Shed. T he original catenary looks as if it was last painted in SAR days. By now she had lost the nose-cone that was used for the high-speed tests. This shows a pair of 1Es coupling-up to the head of a passenger train. Unfortunately, no information came with the negatives, but the subject matter suggests the early post-WW2 period. We have seen class 3Es working briefly in Natal — here, Roger caught a very new-looking 3E coupling-up to a north-bound passenger train at Ladysmith c During this time the Blue Train was not affected.


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I n earlier years c lass ES shunters always associated with Natal. It was only in the post-WW2 era that new orders for these electric shunters saw their spread to the Transvaal. The ERS can just be seen on the extreme right of the photo. A 1E minus its front pantograph with a string of empties passing the Ladysmith South signal cabin. Roger captured the expanse of the very large marshalling yard at Danskraal, Ladysmith. A more-distant photo of Danskraal, Ladysmith, forms the penultimate Roger Perry image of this set.

In the middle-distance, one can see the saw-tooth roof of the Danskraal ERS. The driver can be seen raising his hand in a greeting to Roger as he passes by. DLS is being taken from line 1 to line 2. A couple of hours later we took the down DLS back; a good day out.