The Natal Locomotive

posted in: Pictures 2


We already had a couple of pages on the site about the steam locomotive which drew the first train in South Africa which ran from the Point to Pine Street. The locomotive was called The Natal and the launch of the railway is described here and its eventual fate here. Now reader Kevin Watson has sent in some great pictures which appeared in the Mercury’s  Durban 150th Anniversary Supplement on May 24, 1974. Kevin quoted from the accompanying write-up:

“On Tuesday 26 June 1860 the Durban Natal Mercury newspaper reported that this day was graced by the highest in the land supported by the enthusiastic burgesses, their women folk and children. The station was not yet erected and the platform only a temporary makeshift, but the town of Durban was en fĂȘte. Stores closed down and bunting adorned every building and from all points a steady procession of wagons pulled up on the scene, off-loading their human freight, marshalled by the guard of the 45th Regiment.
“The occasion was the opening of the railway from the Point to the town terminus in Pine Terrace, a distance of 2 miles for a ceremonial first ride on South Africa’s first train. The 24 horse power engine, the Natal, could reach a maximum speed of 40 kmph. As there was no turntable, the Natal went in reverse one one and forward when returning. The train made 3 journeys in each direction each day. First Class fares were 1s (single) and 1s 6d (return) and 6d each way in the Second Class. Seven years later the line was extended to the Umgeni River. The train was so slow that passengers could run ahead to the next stop to catch it if they missed it at the first. In this painting by John Sanderson, an elderly gent is seen waving his umbrella, determined to catch it at the first stop soon after the Umgeni section was opened.”
Natal Locomotive Image
The Natal Locomotive. Natal Mercury, May 24, 1974, via Kevin Watson.


An elderly gent rushes to catch the train after the line was extended to the Umgeni. Painting by John Sanderson. Natal Mercury, May 24, 1974, via Kevin Watson.


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2 Responses

  1. Gerald
    | Reply

    I wrote up a good history of the first railway in South Africa on FAD. Here is the link.

    • Allan Jackson

      Thanks for the reminder Gerald. I will link to the article from the main railway page.

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