CGR 0-4-0ST 1873

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CGR 0-4-0ST 1873
CGR 0-4-0ST 1873 no. M2 Little Bess.jpg
CGR 0-4-0ST of 1873, no. M2 Little Bess
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
DesignerManning Wardle & Company
BuilderManning Wardle & Company
Serial number434, 442 & 494
Build date1873-1874
 • Whyte0-4-0ST (Four-coupled)
 • UICBn2t
Driver2nd coupled axle
Gauge3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) Cape gauge
Coupled dia.33 34 in (857 mm)
Wheelbase4 ft 9 in (1,448 mm)
 • Over couplers18 ft 7 in (5,664 mm)
Height9 ft 34 in (2,762 mm) chimney
10 ft (3,048 mm) cab roof
Adhesive weight13 LT 16 cwt (14,020 kg)
Loco weight13 LT 16 cwt (14,020 kg)
Fuel typeCoal
Fuel capacity5 long hundredweight (0.25 t)
Water cap250 imp gal (1,140 l)
Firebox typeRound-top
 • Firegrate area4.5 sq ft (0.42 m2)
 • Pitch3 ft 10 in (1,168 mm)
 • Tube plates7 ft 3 in (2,210 mm)
Boiler pressure130 psi (896 kPa)
Heating surface246.5 sq ft (22.90 m2)
 • Tubes217.5 sq ft (20.21 m2)
 • Firebox29 sq ft (2.7 m2)
Cylinder size9 in (229 mm) bore
14 in (356 mm) stroke
Valve gearStephenson
CouplersJohnston link-and-pin
Performance figures
Tractive effort3,280 lbf (14.6 kN) @ 75%
OperatorsMac Donald & Company
Cape Government Railways
Number in class3
NumbersM1-M2, W46
Official namePioneer & Little Bess (M1 & M2)
First run1873

The Cape Government Railways 0-4-0ST of 1873 was a South African steam locomotive from the pre-Union era in the Cape of Good Hope.

In 1873, two Cape gauge saddle-tank locomotives with a 0-4-0 wheel arrangement were placed in construction service by Mac Donald & Company, contractors to the Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage Railway Company. When the contract was completed in 1875, the railway and the locomotives were taken over by the Midland System of the Cape Government Railways. A third locomotive, built to the same design, was delivered to the Western System in Cape Town in 1874. These were the first Cape gauge locomotives to enter service in South Africa.[1][2][3][4]

Cape railways expansion[edit]

When the control of railways in the Cape of Good Hope was taken over by the Colonial Government on 1 January 1873 and the Cape Government Railways (CGR) was established with the object of railways expansion, a Select Committee was appointed to study the question of track gauge. The choice which had to be made was between the existing Standard gauge of 4 feet 8 12 inches (1,435 millimetres) and the narrower gauge of 2 feet 6 inches (762 millimetres), which would effect savings of up to one-third on construction cost.[5][6][7]

The CGR Chief Railway Engineer William George Brounger was opposed to the adoption of a narrower gauge on the grounds that, while initial cost would be less, operating costs would be higher. The narrow gauge had been proposed by civil engineer R. Thomas Hall, Superintendent of the narrow gauge Redruth and Chacewater Railway in Cornwall, who was involved in the construction, beginning in 1869, of the Namaqualand Railway which was being built to that gauge between Port Nolloth and O'okiep for the Cape Copper Mining Company. The committee, with a three-to-one vote, settled on a compromise between the two recommended gauges and the 3 feet 6 inches (1,067 millimetres) Cape gauge came into existence in Southern Africa.[5][6][7]


The first three locomotives for the new Cape gauge lines were built by Manning Wardle & Company in 1873 and 1874. The first two, ex works on 12 March and 3 May 1873 respectively, were delivered in 1873 to Mac Donald & Company, contractors to the Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage Railway Company in Port Elizabeth. The contractors named them Pioneer and Little Bess respectively.[1][2][3][4][8]

The third locomotive, ex works on 6 February 1874, was delivered to the Western System in Cape Town in 1874 and was numbered W46 in the Western's number range.[2]

Johnston link-and-pin coupler[edit]

From the arrival of the first railway locomotive in South Africa, the Cape Town Railway & Dock 0-4-0T of 1859, all railway rolling stock had been equipped with buffers-and-chain coupling, variations of which are still in use in the United Kingdom and Europe.[9]

Johnston link-and-pin coupler

These locomotives of 1873 introduced the bell-shaped Johnston link-and-pin coupler, commonly known as a bell link-and-pin coupler, which was to become the standard coupler on Cape gauge rolling stock in the Cape of Good Hope, the Colony of Natal and the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek. In South Africa, all new Cape gauge locomotives and rolling stock acquired between 1873 and 1927 were equipped with these or similar couplers.[1][5][10]

Cape Midland System[edit]

By 1872, Port Elizabeth already possessed extensive Standard gauge trackage between the harbour and Swartkops, but trains were still animal-hauled. Work by contractors Mac Donald's on railway expansion from Port Elizabeth into the interior commenced in June 1872. The two locomotives which were delivered to them in 1873 were utilised as construction engines.[4][5][8]

The first train ran as far as Sydenham in October 1873, and 11 miles (18 kilometres) of railway was completed by 1874. When the two new lines were opened in 1875, northwestward to Uitenhage and northward from Swartkops to Barkly Bridge, the lines and the construction locomotives were taken over by the CGR and the locomotives were numbered M1 and M2 for the Midland System. These two locomotives, together with a smaller 0-4-0ST engine named Mliss which joined them on construction work in 1874, are considered the pioneers of locomotives over the greater part of the Midland System.[4][5][8]

Cape Western System[edit]

By 1874, when the third of the first three locomotives, no. W46, was delivered to the Western System, construction work was proceeding in two directions from Wellington. New Cape gauge track was being laid deeper into the interior towards Worcester, while track dual-gauging was being undertaken back from Wellington towards Cape Town.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Holland, D. F. (1972). Steam Locomotives of the South African Railways. 2: 1910-1955 (1st ed.). Newton Abbott, Devon: David & Charles. pp. 117–118. ISBN 978-0-7153-5427-8.
  2. ^ a b c Littley, Dave (May–June 1993). "C.G.R. Numbering Revised". SA Rail: 94–95.
  3. ^ a b Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. p. 6. ISBN 0869772112.
  4. ^ a b c d Pioneer, Little Bess & Mliss
  5. ^ a b c d e f George Hart, ed. (1978). The South African Railways - Historical Survey. Bill Hart, Sponsored by Dorbyl Ltd. pp. 9, 11–13.
  6. ^ a b Bagshawe, Peter (2012). Locomotives of the Namaqualand Railway and Copper Mines (1st ed.). Stenvalls. p. 8. ISBN 978-91-7266-179-0.
  7. ^ a b Soul of A Railway - System 1 – Part 1: Cape Town prior to the Second World War (Accessed on 26 November 2016)
  8. ^ a b c Sellick, W.S.J. (1904). Uitenhage Past and Present - Souvenir of the Centenary - 1804-1904. Cape Colony: W.S.J. Sellick at the "Uitenhage Times" Office. pp. 144–146. (Accessed on 18 August 2016)
  9. ^ Espitalier, T.J.; Day, W.A.J. (1943). The Locomotive in South Africa - A Brief History of Railway Development. Chapter I - The Period of the 4 ft. 8½ in. Gauge. South African Railways and Harbours Magazine, June 1943. pp. 437-440.
  10. ^ Suid-Afrikaanse Vervoerdienste (South African Transport Services) (1983). Passassierswa- en Trokhandboek (Passenger Carriage and Truck Manual), Vol 1, Hoofstukke 1-15 (Chapters 1-15). South African Transport Services, 1983. Chapter 13.