Home Page

South African Railways


South African Railways Class GMAM Locomotive.

Drawing of 4-8-2 + 2-8-4 South African Railways Class GMAM

The SAR was established in 1910, amalgamating the Natal Govt. Rly and the Cape Govt. Rly both of which had bought BP built engines, the former in 1877/8 and the latter between 1875 & 1904, and also the Central South African Rly which in 1902 had taken over the Pretoria-Pietersburg Rly that had bought 6 tank engines from BP in 1898, and had a replacement in 1900 for one of the six "lost at sea".

The SAR bought 303 engines from Beyer Peacock for their Standard Gauge which was 3’6" and their Narrow Gauge of 2’0". They had been users of other types of articulated locomotives and were among the first to become interested in the Garratt type (not termed ‘Beyer-Garratt’ until after the expiry in 1928 of H.W.Garratt’s Patent, AND only in respect of those built by, or ordered through, BP). They were to become the largest users of Garratts in the world, even though they bought a good many from other builders - North British, Krupp, Linke Hoffman, Henschel, Hanomag, Maffei in 3’6" gauge, and in 2’0" gauge from Franco-Belge, Hanomag, Cockerill and after BP’s Works closure from Hunslet Taylor.

Besides the Garratts, BP also supplied the SAR with 4 designs of 4-8-2 Tender Engines (Classes 14B, 15A, 12 & 15F, this last in 1944). They had also received 6 Pacific lOB Class engines in 1911 that had been ordered pre-amalgamation by the CSAR.

They placed orders in 1914 for 3 designs of Garratt but work could not begin as munitions work was priority. However, the 3 narrow gauge 2-6-0 + 0-6-2 NG/G11 class were delivered in 1919 (instead of what should have been 1916 !), and two ‘experimental’ Standard Gauge Garratts - the GA class 2-6-0 + 0-6-2 delivered in 1920, and the GB class 2-6-2 + 2-6-2
delivered in 1921. The inner carrying bogie gave better riding and 6 more GBs were delivered in 1924, along with 6 GCs with that same wheel configuration and also 6 GE class that were 2-8-2 + 2-8-2s in 1924/5.

There is no doubt that the success in service of the SAR’s first Garratts brought the design to world-wide attention.

Then there was a third ‘experimental’ design - the GG class, which was an Express Passenger Garratt built in 1925 but not repeated and was the only design of Garratt on the SAR intended primarily for passenger working.

The GL class was the first of several designs of 4-8-2 + 2-8-4 for the SAR built between 1929 and 1958. (Of the 1115 Garratts built by or sub-contractor built for BP, 492 had this particular wheel arrangement.)

The narrow gauge Garratts design was modified to 2-6-2 + 2-6-2, as NG/G12, sublet to Franco-Belge and built in 1927, and from BP the NG/G16 built in 1939 (8), 1951 (7) and in 1958 seven that had been ordered by the Tsumeb Corporation but then not wanted on a gauge-change. (Cockerill were licensed to build the first four NG/G16 engines in 1937, Hunslet Taylor providing 8 more in 1967/8.)

The GEA Class order was for 50 built 1945-7, and the final powerful design was the GMA/M design also built in quantity by BP and others 1956-8, 33 of the class of 120 coming out of Gorton Foundry. Both the GMA (carrying 14 tons coal and 2100 galls of water) and the GMAM (with 11.6 tons coal and 1650 galls water) operated with a trailing auxiliary water tank containing 6810 further gallons.

Information provided by Joe Lloyd.