South African Class 6C 4-6-0
OVGS 6th Class L2 no. 88, CSAR Class 6-L2 no. 364, SAR Class 6C no. 553, with a Belpaire firebox and bogie tender
Between 1896 and 1898, the Oranje-Vrijstaat Gouwerment-Spoorwegen placed 24 new Cape 6th Class steam locomotives with a 4-6-0 Tenwheeler type wheel arrangement in service, designated 6th Class L2. When British forces invaded the Orange Free State during the Second Boer War, these locomotives were taken over by the Imperial Military Railways. After the war, they were renumbered onto the Central South African Railways roster and designated Class 6-L2. In 1912, when the remaining 23 locomotives were assimilated into the South African Railways, they were renumbered again and designated Class 6C.
The first 6th Class locomotives of the Oranje-Vrijstaat Gouwerment-Spoorwegen (OVGS) were purchased second-hand from the CGR and designated 6th Class L. These ten engines were soon followed by orders for new 6th Class locomotives directly from the manufacturers.
The 24 locomotives in the first group to be built new for the OVGS were manufactured between 1895 and 1898 by Sharp, Stewart and Company, Dübs and Company and Neilson and Company. They were designated 6th Class L2 when they were delivered between 1896 and 1898. Six of these locomotives were built by Sharp, Stewart, numbered in the range from 70 to 75, nine by Dübs, numbered in the range from 76 to 84, and nine by Neilson, numbered in the range from 85 to 93. All these locomotives were delivered with Type YC six-wheeled tenders.
When British forces invaded the Orange Free State during the Second Boer War, all these OVGS locomotives were taken over by the Imperial Military Railways (IMR), but not renumbered. They were only renumbered after the war, when they were included in the Central South African Railways (CSAR) roster in 1902 and designated CSAR Class 6-L2.
P.A. Hyde, the Chief Locomotive Superintendent of the CSAR from 1902 to 1904, considered the 6th Class as about the best design for their weight ever made. Several of the CSAR's Class 6-L1 to 6-L3 locomotives, including ten of these ex-OVGS locomotives, were modified by Hyde by having their round-topped fireboxes replaced with larger boilers and Belpaire fireboxes and by having larger, more sheltered cabs installed. This conversion improved their performance tremendously, to the extent that they could be used in place of the 8th Class where they were formerly outclassed by load. This represented an increase in hauling capacity of some 12% while their coal consumption was reduced by some 5%. The ten locomotives which were later renumbered in the ranges from 554 to 559 and 561 to 564 on the South African Railways (SAR), had undergone this modification.
During the 1930s, many of them were modified once again, when the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the SAR at the time, A.G. Watson, embarked on his program of standardisation and reboilered them with round-topped fireboxes once again. They retained the larger Hyde-designed cabs, however, and were not reclassified.
During the Second World War, sixteen of the Classes 6 to 6D were transferred to the Middle East to assist with the war effort during the North African Campaign. The sole Class 6C locomotive in this group was no. 548. It was sold to the Sudan Railways Corporation in 1942 and renumbered M713.
Class 6 sub-classes
When the Union of South Africa was established on 31 May 1910, the three Colonial government railways (CGR, Natal Government Railways and CSAR) were united under a single administration to control and administer the railways, ports and harbours of the Union. Although the South African Railways and Harbours came into existence in 1910, the actual classification and renumbering of all the rolling stock of the three constituent railways were only implemented with effect from 1 January 1912.
When all but one of these 24 locomotives were assimilated into the SAR in 1912, they were designated Class 6C and renumbered in the ranges from 541 to 559 and 561 to 564. The fate of the one locomotive which did not enter SAR service, OVGS no. 89, later CSAR no. 365, is not known, although SAR no. 560 appears to have been reserved for it.
These locomotives, together with the CGR's 6th Class locomotives and the CSAR Classes 6-L1 and 6-L3 locomotives which had been inherited from the OVGS via the IMR, were grouped into altogether fourteen sub-classes by the SAR. The 4-6-0 locomotives became SAR Classes 6, 6A, 6B, 6D to 6H and 6J to 6L, the 2-6-2 locomotives became Class 6Y and the 2-6-4 locomotives became Class 6Z.
The Class 6C locomotives were renumbered twice, first from the OVGS onto the CSAR roster and again in 1912 onto the SAR roster. The table lists their renumbering as well as their builder's and works numbers.
The main picture shows SAR Class 6C no. 553, with a Belpaire firebox, while the following shows CSAR Class 6-L2 no. 349, with its as-delivered round-topped firebox and small cab, as depicted on a SAR Museum playing card.
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- Holland, D.F. (1971). Steam Locomotives of the South African Railways, Volume 1: 1859-1910 (1st ed.). Newton Abbott, Devon: David & Charles. pp. 57, 108, 126, 133. ISBN 978-0-7153-5382-0.
- Classification of S.A.R. Engines with Renumbering Lists, issued by the Chief Mechanical Engineer's Office, Pretoria, January 1912, pp. 8, 12, 14, 31 (Reprinted in April 1987 by SATS Museum, R.3125-6/9/11-1000)
- Paxton, Leith; Bourne, David (1985). Locomotives of the South African Railways (1st ed.). Cape Town: Struik. pp. 41–44. ISBN 0869772112.
- Espitalier, T.J.; Day, W.A.J. (1944). The Locomotive in South Africa - A Brief History of Railway Development. Chapter II - The Cape Government Railways (Continued). South African Railways and Harbours Magazine, January 1944. pp. 9-10.
- Espitalier, T.J.; Day, W.A.J. (1944). The Locomotive in South Africa - A Brief History of Railway Development. Chapter V - Other Transvaal and O.F.S. Railways. South African Railways and Harbours Magazine, December 1944. pp. 925, 928.
- Neilson, Reid works list, compiled by Austrian locomotive historian Bernhard Schmeiser
- Espitalier, T.J.; Day, W.A.J. (1945). The Locomotive in South Africa - A Brief History of Railway Development. Chapter VI - Imperial Military Railways and C.S.A.R. (Continued). South African Railways and Harbours Magazine, January 1945. p. 15.
- South African Railways and Harbours Locomotive Diagram Book, 2'0" & 3'6" Gauge Steam Locomotives, 15 August 1941, as amended
- Class 6 to 6D sold to Sudan Railways during the WWII North African Campaign, list compiled by Austrian locomotive historian Reimar Holzinger
- The South African Railways - Historical Survey. Editor George Hart, Publisher Bill Hart, Sponsored by Dorbyl Ltd., Published c. 1978, p. 25.
- Holland, D.F. (1972). Steam Locomotives of the South African Railways, Volume 2: 1910-1955 (1st ed.). Newton Abbott, Devon: David & Charles. pp. 137–138. ISBN 978-0-7153-5427-8.