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Namibia


Railway Engine 652

Walvis Bay | Namibia

In 1895 the Damaraland Guano Company set up a small railway system that operated locally within a few kilometres of Cape Cross. The first locomotive shipped from Germany to Swakopmund in 1897 was a Zwilling (twin) type contraption that had 2 engines that could be coupled and manned by a single operator.

The 'Old Railway Engine No 652, also known as Hope, is a remnant of original Namibian railroad transport and was ferried to Walvis Bay on the Primera, a 596-ton British barque, arriving on 22nd August 1899. It was required to run along a (previously inaccessible) 18km strip of dune belt railway line. Shifting sand dunes often covered the railway line, 10m high in some places, over a mere 1km section of track and journey's were very thin on the ground.

Until 1905 the Railway Engine No 652 earned the princely sum of £39 at a cost of £1,200. Track maintenance was expensive and sand reappeared almost as soon as it was cleared. It's only use was to move cargo and rubbish away from the village.

Railway Engine No. 652 is situated in front of the Walvis Bay train station, protected from the elements by a glass booth. It was officially proclaimed a national monument on 15th April 1953.

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