Bulawayo Engine Shed
Bulawayo Yards
Main Line Special
Wankie Colliery (Hwange)
The Garratt locomotive is almost synonymous with Africa although Garratt locomotives were to be found in many other
parts of the world including Britain.  Many of those used in Africa were built by Beyer Peacock of Manchester and so are
known as Beyer-Garratts.  These articulated locomotives have two frames with their own driving wheels and cylinders
surmounted by water tanks.  Separating the two chassis is another frame carrying the boiler, cab and fuel supply.   This type
of locomotive is invaluable on lightly laid track and where sharp curves need to be negotiated.

Whilst there are a considerable number of these engines preserved in South Africa, a few remaining examples continue in
everyday use in and around Bulawayo, which is Zimbabwe's second city.   It is difficult in the current climate to be sure exactl
how many locomotives remain in working order.  According to International Working Steam reports, steam is still in use on
three of the shunting duties in the yards around Bulawayo with maybe five locomotives in working order.   In late November
2010  Class 16A Nos. 611 and 613 were reported to be available for use together with  Class 15A No. 525 and Class 15 Nos.
395 and 416.
Despite everything, Bulawayo shed is perhaps the last great steam shed in the world.  Surrounding the shed area are a large
number of dumped engines which serve as a reminder of the once extensive steam fleet in this former British colony
nearby is the Bulawayo Railway Museum with a representative collection of locomotives from the former Rhodesian

The present economic and political situation in Zimbabwe has extended the life of the Garratts as the railways can not afford
diesel fuel oil let alone replacement locomotives.  Equally there seems little will or desire to extend the fleet of working
locomotives.   Independent travel and tourism in general in Zimbabwe is now more difficult with concerns for personal safety
and this has resulted in the suspension of the weekly luxury travel train to Victoria Falls.  A number of overseas railtours hav
visited the country recently with mixed results due to failures of both locomotives and infrastructure.

All pictures on this and subsequent pages were taken in the summer of 1999.  At this time information on Zimbabwean
steam was not easy to come by and some reports suggested that it had, or was about to finish.  Steve Nakoneczny, my
regular travelling companion  met a Zimbabwe railway employee in London and had ascertained that there was still some
Garratts working in the country and so we set out in the hope that we were not too late.  After a day long drive from Harare
to Bulawayo - in pouring rain - we arrived at the guest house, checked in and as night fell headed out again to check out the
shed.  The scene that greeted us was like Dante's Inferno ..... piles of burning embers, great heaps of ashes and clouds of
steam.  As our eyes adjusted we could make out at least five engines in steam on the shed.  We were not too late!

Over the succeeding 14 days we became regular visitors to Bulawayo shed, frequently arriving before dawn and often
remaining until the early evening when the locomotives returned from the shunting yards.  In between times we chased
around the city seeking out the engines shunting in the various yards and ventured out to nearby Cement to take shots of
one of the few non-Garratt engines still in steam.  We also ventured 'up-country' to chase one of the few operational tourist
trains as it made its steam hauled way from Bulawayo to Dett and then on to Victoria Falls.  Here we crossed over into
Zambia to visit the Livingstone Railway Museum before returning south to spend several days at Wankie Colliery in Hwange.
Despite the worsening political and economic climate we were made universally welcome - even on the occasion when we
inadvertently wandered into a 'bar' where white faces were rarely if ever seen unless in uniform!
Class 15 4-6-4 + 4-6-4 No.424
stands in Bulawayo station yard
after a day shunting in the freight
yards of the city.  The locomotive
was named 'Isilwana' (Lion) but
by August 1999 the nameplate
had disappeared.

No.424 was originally numbered
No.404 and was involved in
several serious accidents the most
serious being when it overturned
near Hwange killing its crew.
In early evening an example of the
smaller Class 14A 2-6-2 + 2-6-2
Garratts No.514 also stands in
the yard at Bulawayo station
waiting to back down to coaling
stage and disposal pits at the
engine shed.  In the background
stands a rake of brown and cream
coaches with a livery dating back
to the days of Rhodesian Railways
Class 15A 4-6-64 + 4-6-4 No.406
hauling the northbound 'Train De
Luxe' through Tajintuna Sidings en
route to Victoria Falls - a chance
to recreate the days of regular
passenger trains on the main lines
of Zimbabwe            (August 1999)
A morning visit to Bulawayo shed
finds Class 16A 2-8-2 + 2-8-2
No.610 and Class 14A No.519
prepare t head for Bulawayo
station ahead of another day of
shunting the Bulawayo freight
Bulawayo Engine Shed
Bulawayo Yards
Main Line Special
Wankie Colliery (Hwange)
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