The reference for locomotives and railcars
Natal Railway 0-4-0WT “Natal”
South Africa | 1860 | only one produced
The “Natal” in Durban station
The “Natal” in Durban station
Jaco Marais

The locomotive, named “Natal”, was the first to see commercial service in what is now South Africa. It was manufactured in Leeds by a company called Carrett, Marshall & Company and then shipped to Durban in disassembled form. A standard gauge railway already existed there, on which freight and passenger trains were pulled by oxen. After assembly, the locomotive was sent on a test run on June 23, 1860 and inaugurated on June 26. It was a 0-4-0 tank locomotive with a load-bearing outer frame, a water tank under the boiler and an unprotected platform as footplate. The coal was housed in a box on the footplate

The “Natal” was reinforced five years later by the “Durban”, which was also a two-axle tank locomotive. It did, however, have a saddle tank and a goggle-shaped weather shield at the front of the cab. They were the only two locomotives on the Natal Railway Company for most of the time, but after the 1867 enlargement the line was only nine kilometers long. The founding of the Natal Government Railways in 1875 heralded the end of the two locomotives because an agreement was reached with the railway of the Cape of Good Hope and the decision was made to use the track gauge of 3 ft 6 in in future to connect the networks. When the line was converted to this so-called Cape gauge, the locomotives were decommissioned. There are indications that the Durban may have been re-gauged to the Cape Gauge, but these are without evidence.

Later, two farmers, one after the other, tried to use the Natal as a stationary powerplant for a sawmill and a sugar mill. However, these plans had to be abandoned as local workers became defensive about this “devil's machine”. The farm's new owner got rid of the devil's machine by burying it in the bed of the Mzimvubu River, rendering it harmless. It was rediscovered and excavated in 1944. Since many parts were destroyed or lost, they were replicated and the locomotive reassembled as a display piece for Durban station. Even when the station was moved to a place two kilometers away, the locomotive was taken with it, so that it can still be seen today.

ManufacturerCarrett, Marshall & Co.
Axle config0-4-0WT (Four-coupled) 
Gauge4 ft 8 1/2 in (Standard gauge)
Dimensions and Weights
Length17 ft 6 in
Wheelbase9 ft
Fixed wheelbase9 ft
Service weight26,896 lbs
Fuel capacitycoal
Power sourcesteam
Indicated power24 hp (18 kW)
Power Plant
Driver diameter45 in
Expansion typesimple
Calculated Values
steam locomotive
tank locomotive
last changed: 03/2022

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