Beaconsfield Loco Depot and Yards (Last modified 2002-Dec-20)

Please click on images to see a larger image and a brief description.



I arrived in Beaconsfield during the start of a national holiday. So the yard and sheds were quiet. Therefore, I made my visit known to the local security company. Yes, the whole site is being looked after by a private security firm. They are polite and only ask for you to show some form of identification and sign in.

I was approached many times by the security firm throughout my morning walkabout.

Humm. How do I say? -> This is not the Beaconsfield I remember.

Time really has not stood still at this location. The grounds are littered with steam locomotives and related carcasses. It appears that scrapping of the steam locomotives began then abruptly ceased.

Dear Reader: should you desire to see how a boiler of a 25NC was constructed. Go to Beaconsfield. I took many photos of just such views as the partial scrapping of the locos has resulted in some interesting details.

The final solution of electrification will most likely spell the end of the steam and diesel shed. I do believe that a few additional tracks over in the electric loco depot would suffice to service what few diesels will be around after the electrics take over in full.

I realize that as of this writing, 2001-Dec-31, this shed may already be gone. But I do not know and I shall make one more attempt in the near future to record by camera this facility.

My own belief is that electrification should have been performed years ago, when the traffic warranted such infrastructure. Yes, the steam locos should have been moved aside and the DC gap filled in all the way to the Cape to allow for increased operating department efficiencies.

In saying that, I am sure I am not viewed upon in good light by many railway enthusiasts. My only response is simply, it is either the highway or the railway. It is now a nationwide showdown between the modes of transport. For not only has steam traction died off, completely, but the railway service levels have seriously declined and I don't detect a trend of goods returning to the rails.

So it may be an ironic twist of economic realism that in trying to save steam traction in the past, the future of the railway today may be in jeopardy as the monies which are in tight supply are being spent to fulfill electrification in an era of reduced railway traffic activity.

So as I always spout: Get your photos now...

I have not been on the grounds of Beaconsfield since about November 1985. So having been trained in the ways of photographing steam locos, I arrived early hoping to use some of that colourfull early morning sunlight.

What a flop. Without steam locos this place is ... well you know.

So with a low elevation and hot burning sun and long shadows, I began my walk around this once busy facility.

Diesels in the morning light.

If all the dead steam locos wasn't enough to convince me that change was in the wind. I then spotted a long line of idle 5E and 5E1's. Not a good sight. I never thought I would see the electrics placed in whole lineups. In that line is also a lone 15F #2958. Please see that photo further down the page.

North end of shed.

Walking out to what used to be the morning vantage point as the sunlight and steam vapour would produce some interesting views. Now nothing, not even a stray diesel. What really is strange is that the infrastructure appears to be in decent shape. It is as if steam died last month and not tens years and six months ago.

Boiler blowoff basins and water tank.

Here is another view taken from in front of the yard office.

Shed road leads.

I actually enjoy photographing overhead catenary. If you walk about and take notice to how it is all constructed, you may become irreversibly hooked on such details. Really.

O.K., enough of my sales pitch. Each to their own.

Goods to the left, locos to the right.

The next group of images show the location near the coal stage. It seems that a group of steam locomotives, located on the west side of the coal stage, are not for scrapping.

Some of the locos appear to be reserved or owned by other parties while a separate line appears to serve as a reliable parts source for existing steam loco operators. Caution, I am only speculating, and I have no solid details of the situation of these steam locos.

Road to the electric loco shed. Coal stage track up-lifted. Water tank & siding. Steam loco storage area.

Case in point. 25NC-3440 with "Reserved" written on the loco cab side. I am amazed at how ten years of inactivity can make a machine look so dismal. Especially in a climate as dry as Beaconsfield.

25NC-3440. 25NC-3440 up close.

Ex FreeGold mining locomotive.

FreeGold loco and other rolling stock next to the coal stage bridge. FreeGold loco. FreeGold loco company plate.

Ex FreeGold tank type mining locomotive.

Notice that both the FreeGold locos have a cage installed in order to prevent casual theft of the copper and brass cab appliances.

Saved(?) locos to the left, others to the right. FreeGold tank loco.

Electric Depot

This is were the action is now. The shed is home to 10E, 6E1, 12E, and 8E locos as shown in the following images. I did not spot any 6E units. But my selection was limited due to the reduced traffic during the holiday period.

Beaconsfield is also home to a small electric loco shop. Unfortunately for me, the national holiday caused the shop to be closed, and I therefore have no images of the inside workings.

Electric loco depot lead. Loco shed to the left, shops to the right. 6E1 locos going into shed tracks. Looking at steam storage area from electric loco shed yard lead.

The DC electric loco shed.

No plans for AC here. I am only being overly specific.

The shadows are long and I planned to be in Kathu (Sishen) by early afternoon, so my images are unusually limited. Yes, I made Sishen as planned.

So here are some of the ex Metro-Blitz locos!

Seeing these units in such good shape provided some goodness to the day.

Left to right. 10E, 12E's, and an 8E. All looking sharp and well kept.

Electric loco shed.

Because Beaconsfield has a small electric loco shop, the electric loco parts from De Aar which require attention are sent to Beaconsfield.

De Aar electric loco parts wagon. Wagon report markings.

British Steel manufactured railway rail.

Rail with mill marking -> British Steel.

The sun has moved higher in the sky and the following views shown again the situation at the north end of the steam and diesel depot.

Diesel depot viewing east side. Diesel depot viewing center.

General Electric 35-409 with many of the service doors open. Loco stone cold, not a good scene.

Diesel on shunt track.

In the line-up of 5E and 5E1 electrics is this lone 15F #2958.

Scrap or is it being hidden? I have not a clue.

15F-2958 in electric loco dead line. 15F-2958 markings.

This is most likely already a dated and otherwise un-repeatable scene.

With the coming of the electric service to De- Aar, it must be that the majority of these diesels will go elsewhere. So I have captured what may have been the last large assembly of diesel locos at this depot.

In the first photograph of the class 36 diesel. The tender of the oil burning 25NC-3501 can be seen. The 25NC-3501 appeared to be in working shape with the exception of the oil burner arrangement. Also, inside the shed and behind barbed wire is 25C-3511 and other locomotives that I could not identify.

Class 36-028 diesel. Notice end of electric loco dead line to the left. Diesel ready tracks. 34-901 up front. 34-068 in front of offices. 35-350 in the background.
EMD's 35-303/350. GE 34-015 and EMD's 35-303/350.

Dear reader: Please find the next group of images informative. Nothing more.

As I mentioned in the introduction to this page, the south end of the shed is littered with these large hulks. Even the rails are randomly torn up near the ash pit. I did not walk through and create an exhaustive list of loco and tender numbers. The reality is -> its over, plain and simple.

I have my memories and photos from the 1980's.

Yes, I regret not having many more images and experiences from the active steam years, but life goes on.

Steam locos in various stages of being forgotten. 25NC-3502 with notice ->Do not Strip. The line of forgotten locos. 25NC-3517 and the ash pit in the distance.
Ash pit gantry. Clyde Crane & Engineering Company Limited of Mossend, Scotland. What remains of the ash pit. End of the south end shed shunting neck.

Construction of the overhead power traction infrastructure.

I should simply like to say, this is what should have occurred many years ago. I enjoyed steam, but now the problem is one of survival in the NEW South African transportation market.

The following images show the extension of the DC traction overhead. The DC traction will go as far south as Beaconsfield South. Then the AC overhead will take over from there all the way to De Aar.

BEWARE: There now exists a "housing development" on the east side of the trackage at this location. The residents cut across the railway property just north of the road overpass.

I felt somewhat safe as I made my activities known to the Siemens signals crew which were busy laying the wire work for the new points machine and signal systems.

Goods yard next to diesel shed. Signal cabin. Concrete pad for new signaling apparatus boxes. Left to Bloemfontein, straight to De Aar.
This may be the northern most new pre-stressed concrete catenary pole. Left is the main to De Aar, straight is the Beaconsfield South yards.