Steam Locomotive

Class 8A No 1127 had many Lives and many Lovers

Time Line

1901 1902 1930(?) 1958 1961 1972(?) 1984 2010
Built in Glasgow, Scotland


Anglo Boer War Middelburg

Stoffberg line

Upington Beaconsfield,




Railway Station



Civic Centre




1127’s latest story

In early 2000 the Municipality asked Anna-Marth Ott, the CEO of the Middelburg Chamber of Commerce & Industry(MCCI) if she would be interested in relocating 1127 to the new Tourist Information Centre. Anna-Marth immediately agreed, but then reality set in.

How on earth would MCCI relocate the locomotive? It is just not possible to build a temporary line from 1127’s position at the Civic Centre to the Tourist Information Centre. Over the coming years there were many ideas, the one more extravagant than the other; none practical or affordable were offered.

Then Johan van Rensburg (pictured right) and Marius Brits, from Columbus Stainless Steel (Pty) Ltd, approached her with a workable solution. Johan said that he spoke to Van Wetten and Johnson Crane Hire, both Middelburg companies and said they were willing to sponsor the relocation of 1127. Stimela Rail said they will sponsor the gravel and railway tracks.

27 September 2010 was set aside and the intensive planning started, many committee meetings were held to finalise the plans for the relocation of 1127. Riggers were organised and many Middelburg companies sponsored the various components needed for the relocation.

Early that Spring morning onlookers watched with bated breath when the locomotive was loaded on VanWettens Low-bed by the Johnsvon Crane Hire and moved the new site at the Tourist Information Centre.

The process was reversed at the Tourist Information Centre where 1127 was lifted off the low-bed on to the rails. This was a whole day exercise and everybody gave a sigh of relieve when she was settled in the dusk of the day. There she stood for many years in her rusted glory. Again many plans, proposal and criticism about the state of the train.

Then in 2012 Perfect Paints offered sponsorship to paint 1127, this sponsorship was gladly accepted as Perfect Paints had the best and cost effective solution for our Class 8A No 1127.

To this day the locomotive attracts many visitors and I can repeat Julie van Rensburg’s words “

.. a tribute for all time to remind the future generations of a bygone era when steam was the backbone of our Transport services..

Full extracts of Julie van Rensburg’s article in the SA Rail, November – December 1984 is available on our website:


Extracts from Julie van Rensburg’s article in the SA Rail November – December 1984

1127 Comes Home at Last…

Middelburg’s little wandering “monstrosity” Class 8A No 1127 finally came hope to stay on Tuesday, 21 August 1984, being mounted on a plinth next to the Civic Centre after many decades of wandering around the country.

“Monstrosity she may be in the sense that she’ll never be able to compete in the beauty stakes against the more modern Pacific & Mountain type giants like the 15’s, 16’s, 23’s and 25’s (and I am referring to the 25NC!) As a matter of fact, she, like many of her contemporaries, is downright ugly with her tall smokestack and dome protruding into the air like sore thumbs and her cylinders sticking out diagonally from under her front end. However, on the other hand, she does have a certain attraction, being very much part and parcel of the history of Middelburg and environs.

1127 and her thirty nine compatriots were built in 1901 by Nielson, Reid & Co. and Sharp, Stewart & Co. The first company supplied Nos 401 – 420, 204ks Nos 6167 to 6195 and the second supplied Nos 421 – 440 works Nos 4848 to 4867. They must have been quite beautiful, as under the Imperial Military Railways administration they had polished prass domes, chimney caps and boiler bands.

At the time they cost the princely sum of £3 865 and upon arrival, were immediately drafted into service by the IMR, as the Anglo-Boer War was still in progress. After the cessation of hostilities, these locomotives were transferred to the then Central South African Railways.

Unfortunately there seem to be no existing records on 1127 in particular, but from what I could glean on her here and there, she was definitely in service here in the Middelburg area, in particular working the Middelburg/Stoffberg line for many years

It seems that she was very much part of the scenario for about 20 or thirty years. I haven’t been able to determine exactly where she went after leaving Middelburg area, but there is a possibility that she may have worked in the Orange Free State at some time or another.

Her present file was opened in 1958 when she was transferred to Upington. She was sent to Uitenhage in 1959 for heavy repairs and a boiler change and returned to Upington, working there until 1961. Her next “ort of call” was Beaconsfield, working Beaconsfield/Vryburg/Mafikeng until she was retired from service in 1972 and donated to the Municipality of Middelburg, Transvaal.

Problems arose here in Middelburg regarding the site where her plinth was to be built. Apparently it was at first decided to build it at the station, but with plans for rebuilding the station, the Railways requested that another site be found. The previous Station Master of Middelburg, Mr du Plooy (who is now retired) was also against the station area, and for very valid reasons. Unfortunately the station is of the beaten track and thus unlikely to be specially visited by tourist just to view a locomotive. So another site was found which was approved by the Railways – next to the testing grounds adjoining the Civic Centre.

Meanwhile, the loco had already been standing on a spur in the Middelburg goods yard for a number of years, patiently awaiting her fate, when it became known that she’d be returning to Middelburg anytime in 1984. Eventually 21 August was the date decided upon that she’d be handed over officially to the Municipality and preparations got under way. She was brought back to Middelburg on Friday, 17 August and spent the next few days cooling her heels in the station yard again.

By dawn on Tuesday, 21 August, and with it, as if suddenly out of nowhere, the hundreds of Railway staff off all ranks who descended on the Municipal grounds and adjoining main railway line en masse. The main line was cut through beforehand in preparation to joining it up with the Municipal” line which had been laid through part of the testing grounds, and the main line was braced to allow normal traffic to pass unhindered until the passenger train’s departure around 14:00.

Hot on the passenger’s heels came 15CA No 2804 with Jan Groenewald at the controls, towing three empty DZ’s and the little 1127 attached tail-end to these. Anyone who is familiar with the “Doctor Doolittle” books would have been reminded of the animal character in these, the “Push-me-pull-you” which had a head at both ends and could run backwards or forwards at will…

While Jan waited a little way off with his train, the breakdown gangs swung into action. The prances were removed from the cut line and about 150 railway workers, singing in unison, with brute force and crowbars, bent the line, sleepers and all, to join up with the “municipal line. Then Jan slowly reversed the train utile 1127 was on this line. Futhere he did not dare go, as his 173 tons of CA and a few tons more of DZ’s would have wreaked havoc on the unbalanced line…

A rather amusing incident happened at this stage. As soon as the braces adjoin the two lines were moved the “municipal’ line lifted slightly behind 1127 and much to everyone’s amusement and surprise, she started rolling forward a few years as if to say “See I’m still capable of running on my own!”

From there on, another type of motive power in the form of a pay loader took over and under the watchful eyes of Railway and Municipal officials and general public; she was ushered gently to her plinth and settled in, having done her last run for live.

She may even have heaved a sigh of relief, knowing that she had at last come to rest, having all the time in the world to look back over her glorious past. For men may come and men may go, but she’d outlived many and would outlive many more..

.. a tribute for all time to remind the future generations of a bygone era when steam was the backbone of our Transport services..

Oostvaal Verwe in Middelburg has generously offered to donate all the paint for the job. It is a magnificent gesture, considering the current prices of undercoat and paint these days.

The No 1127 was given to Middelburg in 1972 by the then SAR after the engine was withdrawn from service.

The town council didn’t know where to put it, so for the next 12 years it rusted away on unused spur lines.

Then in 1984, the council decided to park the magnificent old engine on a plinth next to the new civic centre.

This particular engine used to travel on the Witbank Coal Line.

In 1984 Julie van Rensburg, restored the Class Eight A engine to its former glory.