Legacies: stereotypes, racism and the civil rights movement

Beyer-Garratt locomotive

Made by Beyer, Peacock & Co Ltd, Manchester, 1929
Iron, brass, copper and glass

Object number 1984.873
Given by the South African Transport Services, 1984

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Beyer-Garratt locomotive

This Beyer-Garratt locomotive spent its working life in South Africa, a country with a long history of racial oppression. Racial segregation began in South Africa in colonial times, but only became a legal policy when the National party was elected to government in 1948. The population were categorised by racial groups, with white people enjoying greater freedom and better public services than black people and Indians. This system was known as apartheid and was only reversed when Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress won the 1994 election.

Beyer, Peacock & Co made its first locomotive in 1855. Its key markets were the British colonies, South Africa and South America. Standard locomotives could not cope with sharp bends and steep gradients to be found on some overseas railways. Herbert Garratt's articulated locomotive design offered a solution, with the first one built in 1909.

This Garratt Class GL articulated steam locomotive was used by South African Railways on the steep gradients of the Durban to Cato Ridge section of the Natal main line. It operated from 1930 to 1938, when the line was electrified, and was then used to haul coal trains until 1972.

This information was provided by curators from the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI).