BLACK DIAMONDS ...
... is a colloquialism often used in South Africa to describe the coal produced in an industry that is one of the most important to the country. The modern image is, of course, of the 200+ high capacity wagons formed into block liner trains moving prodigious loads of the mineral to Richards Bay for export. However, there is a considerable domestic need as well, not least for coal fired power stations, which continue to be built in the seemingly never ending demand of the nation for more electricity.
There are huge collieries that have never had a private railway operation, these being served by adjacent rapid loading bunkers from where the output is railed directly by the national railway carrier. Others are built close to major users, such as power stations and, for example, the Sasol plants, where the coal is taken directly in by conveyor. At the other end of the scale are smaller mines that have always relied on road transport. Between all these however, lies the subject matter of this book : those collieries that used their own railway system to handle their output (and / or stores traffic) to the nearest exchange yard with South African Railways. More specifically, those that used their own steam 'Black Diamonds' to haul their trains. Not all were black, of course, although all were true gems of the steam age. Specialised industrial locomotives were in the minority in this industry, instead classes long since extinct on South African Railways could be found slogging away still earning their keep right through to the middle 1990s. They are all here in this long overdue pictorial tribute to these workhorses.
300 pages, predominantly colour , are used to showcase the stunning photography of these magnificent machines from the steam era. This is the first ever book devoted solely to South African industrial railways, which receive only scant attention in many other books on the South African steam scene.
PLEASE NOTE THIS BOOK IS ALSO AVAILABLE IN STANDARD LANDSCAPE SIZE, FOR ABOUT HALF THE PRICE