Industrial Railways in Singapore
In addition to the Singapore Tramways, Singapore Government Railway (later the Federated Malay States Railway) and the Military Railways there were also several industrial concerns who operated their own systems over the years. Perhaps the earliest was the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company, who in 1894 acquired the steam trams from the failed Singapore Tramway venture. There were also contractors, such as John Aird & Co., Topham, Jones & Railton and Sir John Jackson who had contracts to build harbours, airfields, the causeway, etc. Then there were smaller concerns who operated quarries, factory sidings etc. It should come as no surprise therefore that there may have been upwards of a hundred steam locomotives operating in Singapore during the first half of the 20th century. Click here for my current listing. Following is a list of the various concerns which will be followed by any data which I have on them.
Tanjong Pagar Dock Company (1865 to 1912)
later the Singapore Harbour Board (1912 to 1964)
later the Port of Singapore Authority (1 April 1964 to date).
Above: A Tanjong Pagar Dock company locomotive with a loaded train alongside one of the godowns. A framed print of this picture is in the KTM museum at KLO with the caption "Scenery at Tanjong Pagar Warehouse at Singapore on 1928".
The Tanjong Pagar Dock Company was formed in 1865. An 1870 photograph shows what appear to be railway tracks but the earliest record I have is of the Singapore Tramway having a branch into the docks in 1885, although Dick & Stevenson supplied two 0-4-0ST shunters numbered 1 & 2 to Singapore in 1877, so it is possible these went to the docks. As mentioned above, in 1894 they acquired the locomotives and rolling stock from the tramway at auction. John Aird & Co. supplied them with at least 7 saddle tank locomotives of 0-4-0 and 0-6-0 wheel arrangement from Manning Wardle. They also had at least 5 0-4-0STs built by R Stephenson between 1904 and 1909. Four were delivered new in 1908/9 while the others were second-hand from UK contracts, having been converted to metre gauge by about 1921/2. In 1933 they took ownership of two Hawthorn Leslie locomotives which were working in Mandai quarry and supplying granite to the Harbour. In September 1946 they purchased 3 Hunslet A class 0-6-0Ts from FMSR, who had acquired them from the Sembawang Naval Base in November 1941. In 1947 an 0-6-0ST numbered 3 was seen there, at first thought to be Peckett but now Avonside as it was transferred from the Naval Base by Topham, Jones & Railton. This would make it the same class as SL7 & SL8 in the military section. Click here for my current listing. By the time of my visits there in the 1970s only diesels could be seen.
SL7, an Avonside 0-6-0ST similar to No 3 of the SHB, at the Military complex. © Brian Raybould
Tanjong Pagar Dock Company Locomotive listing
1 Dick & Stevenson ?/1877 0-4-0ST no cab
2 Dick & Stevenson ?/1877 0-4-0ST with cab
? Kitson ???/1885-7 0-4-0Tr ex Singapore Tramways, quantity acquired not known, some may have gone on to Penang Tramway
? R Stephenson 3122/1904 0-4-0ST
? R Stephenson 3123/1904 0-4-0ST later to Singapore Harbour Board as SHB3
? R Stephenson 3213/1906 0-4-0ST
? R Stephenson 3346/1907 0-4-0ST
? R Stephenson 3375/1909 0-4-0ST
The above assumes that whereas the government took over the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company in 1904 the Singapore Harbour Board was not formed until 1912.
Singapore Harbour Board Locomotive listing
initial fleet taken over from Tanjong Pagar Dock Co in 1912
1 not known may have been any of the first four above
2 not known may have been any of the first four above
3 R Stephenson 3123/1904 0-4-0ST
4 R Stephenson 3213/1906 0-4-0ST
5 R Stephenson 3346/1907 0-4-0ST
6 R Stephenson 3375/1909 0-4-0ST
Additional locomotives acquired after 1912 and given vacant numbers in the series.
1 Hawthorn Leslie 3644/1925 ex Singapore Municipal Council for Mandai Quarry, to SHB in 1933, withdrawn c1954
2 Hawthorn Leslie 3685/1927 ex Singapore Municipal Council for Mandai Quarry, to SHB in 1933, withdrawn c1954
3 Avonside 20xx/1929 0-6-0ST seen there in 1947 but details not recorded
5 Hunslet 1626/1929 0-6-0T ex Malayan Railway 331.01, FMSR 124, Sir John Jackson SL20, to SHB 1946
7 Manning Wardle 1754/1909 0-4-0ST ex John Aird 326 for Topham, Jones and Railton Singapore Harbour works, to SHB c1918
8 Manning Wardle 1729/1908 0-4-0ST ex John Aird 228 for Topham, Jones and Railton Singapore Harbour works, to SHB c1918
9 Manning Wardle 1495/1900 0-4-0ST ex John Aird 137, ex Std Gauge, to SHB 1921?, later to Penang as HB2
10 Manning Wardle 1588/1902 0-4-0ST ex John Aird 510, ex Std Gauge, to SHB 1921?
11 Manning Wardle 1496 or 1500 0-4-0ST ex John Aird, ex Std Gauge, to SHB 1922?
Hunslet 1624/1929 0-6-0T ex Malayan Railway 331.02, FMSR 126, Sir John Jackson SL18, to SHB 1946
Hunslet 1625/1929 0-6-0T ex Malayan Railway 331.03, FMSR 127, Sir John Jackson SL19, to SHB 1946
Sir John Jackson's Singapore Harbour contract
This had a standard gauge line with two Barclay locomotives named Princess May and Burntisland which were later shipped to Canada (by 15th February 1914).
Barclay 797/1897 Burntisland
Barclay 892/1901 Princess May
Topham, Jones & Railton's Singapore Harbour contract
This contract was awarded around 1908 to build a new dock on swampland at Tanjong Pagar. It involved the realignment of Keppel Road to run parallel to, and just south of, the railway line from Tank Road to Pasir Panjang between Anson Road and Borneo Wharf. A new dock, known as Empire dock, was then dug out with wharves on the north, east and south sides with the opening to the sea at the south-west corner, near Borneo wharf. Much of the granite for the works came from Mandai Quarry (see below). John Aird's supplied a small fleet of Manning Wardle 0-4-0STs, some of which passed on the the Singapore Harbour Board later. The works lasted from 1908 to 1917. Concurrently they had a contract to build the King's Dock, a Graving (or Dry) dock, which was opened on 26th August 1913. The locomotives for this work came from Gibraltar dockyard and were originally built to Standard gauge.
Locomotives used on the King's Dock works
Bagnall 1472/1895 0-4-0T metre gauge, ex Gibraltar dockyard, in use 1909-1918
Bagnall 1473/1895 0-4-0T metre gauge, ex Gibraltar dockyard, in use 1909-1918
Manning Wardle 1446/1899 0-4-0ST metre gauge, ex Gibraltar dockyard, in use 1909-1918, named GIBRALTAR; later to Malacca
Manning Wardle 1496/1900 0-4-0ST Std Gauge, ex John Aird, Millom, in use 1912-1918, parts to SHB 11 in 1922
Manning Wardle 1500/1900 0-4-0ST Std Gauge, ex John Aird, Millom, in use 1912-1918, parts to SHB 11 in 1922
Manning Wardle 1550/1901 0-4-0ST metre gauge, ex Gibraltar dockyard, in use 1909-1918
Locomotives used on the Empire Dock works
Manning Wardle 1729/1908 0-4-0ST metre gauge, new to John Aird as 228, later to SHB8
Manning Wardle 1730/1908 0-6-0ST metre gauge, new to John Aird as 233, named MALACCA, later to Prai Wharves
Manning Wardle 1731/1908 0-6-0ST metre gauge, new to John Aird as 234, named MUDA, later to Prai Wharves
Manning Wardle 1754/1909 0-4-0ST metre gauge, new to John Aird as 326, later to SHB7
It is possible that there was some interchange between the two systems. SHB11 was metre gauge and incorporated parts from both locomotives, which may have been converted to metre gauge before being used on the dock works.
The locomotives in the above pictures are believed to be Manning Wardle tanks with the possible exception of the last one which might be a Bagnall.
Sir John Jackson's Sembawang Naval Base contract
Locomotives used in the construction
Avonside 2024/1929 0-6-0ST SL 1 to RN base as M1
Avonside 2025/1929 0-6-0ST SL 2 to Burma Railway as SL2
Avonside 2026/1929 0-6-0ST SL 3 to Burma Railway as SL3
Avonside 2027/1929 0-6-0ST SL 4
Avonside 2028/1929 0-6-0ST SL 5
Avonside 2029/1929 0-6-0ST SL 6 to RN base as SL6
Avonside 2030/1929 0-6-0ST SL 7 to RN base as SL7, later to Ayer Rajah base near Tanglin as SL7
Avonside 2031/1929 0-6-0ST SL 8 to Ayer Rajah base near Tanglin as SL8
Avonside 2032/1929 0-6-0ST SL 9
Avonside 2033/1929 0-6-0ST SL10 to RN base
Avonside 2034/1929 0-6-0ST SL11
Hunslet 1622/1928 0-6-0T SL16 to Malayan Collieries as MC 1
Hunslet 1623/1928 0-6-0T SL17 to Malayan Collieries as MC 4
Hunslet 1624/1928 0-6-0T SL18 to FMSR as 126, later 331.02; to SHB as SHB5 in 1946
Hunslet 1625/1928 0-6-0T SL19 to FMSR as 127, later 331.03; to SHB in 1946
Hunslet 1626/1928 0-6-0T SL20 to FMSR as 124, later 331.01; to SHB in 1946
Hunslet 1627/1928 0-6-0T SL21 to Malayan Collieries as MC 8
Hunslet 1628/1928 0-6-0T SL22 reported to Malayan Collieries but no record there
Hunslet 1629/1928 0-6-0T SL23 reported to Malayan Collieries but no record there
Hunslet 1630/1928 0-6-0T SL24 to Malayan Collieries as MC11
Hunslet 1631/1928 0-6-0T SL25 reported to Malayan Collieries but no record there
Hunslet 1632/1928 0-6-0T SL26 to Malayan Collieries as MC 9
Hunslet 1633/1928 0-6-0T SL27 to Malayan Collieries as MC10
Hunslet 1634/1928 0-6-0T SL28 reported to Malayan Collieries but no record there
This was a large user of rail traffic on both metre and standard gauges. It is not clear whether the metre gauge line was connected to the FMSR line during construction. To obtain sufficient concrete, a new granite quarry was opened at Bukit Lunchu (or Lunchoo), on the Johore side of Old Strait, opposite the dockyard site. A total of 1,600,000 tons of granite stone was brought down to the Straits by a special railway constructed for this purpose, and shipped across to the dockyard on barges. I have yet to establish the gauge of this railway.
There were 24 metre gauge locomotives, 13 0-6-0Ts with outside cylinders from Hunslet (3 of which became FMSR A class and passed on to the Singapore Harbour Board) and 11 0-6-0STs from Avonside (two, SL2 & SL3, went to Burma; two, SL7 & SL8, to the Military and at least one to the SHB). One of the standard gauge locomotives was Hawthorn Leslie 3865/1936 which is still extant today - see the Military page. The build date suggests it was not used for the construction.
Above: a works photo of SL 2, Avonside 2025/1929. This locomotive went to the Burma Railways with SL 3 after completion of the Naval Base contract.
Below: 3 of the locomotives en-route from the Avonside works to the docks at Bristol.
Above: SL26, Hunslet 1632/1928, one of the locomotives supplied to Sir John Jackson for the Naval Base contract, and the same class as those sold on to the FMSR and Singapore Harbour Board. This one became Malayan Collieries MC 9.
Below: Hawthorn Leslie 3865 at work in Singapore.
Public Works Department, Straits Settlements
construction of Kallang Airport
This was a 3' gauge line using Hudswell Clarke 1625 of 1928 and 13 Peckett 0-6-0STs (1841-51/1932 and 1865/6). By the time of the Japanese occupation at least one if not both Manning Wardle locomotives (1985 & 1986/1920) were working on this line. The fate of this line and the stock is not recorded but it is possible that it was all moved to Changi for constructing the airfield there during the Japanese occupation.
Sand was excavated from a quarry at Kampong Batak (now the site of Bedok reservoir) and transported by rail to Kallang Basin. A map held in the British Library archives shows the railway running southwards and westwards in stages from the quarry to cross Jalan Eunos where there was a spur into a shed and then continuing southwards and westwards to Kallang basin where it crossed the swamp
Above: Public Works Department Straits Settlements No 1 (Peckett 1841/1928) left and No 6 (Peckett 1846/1928) right.
Below: Manning Wardle 1985 and 1986 at Abertillery before being sold to Singapore, they were last recorded at Kallang airport just before the Japanese invasion.
Above: Two Peckett 0-4-0T locomotives, presumably at the sand quarry.
Below: Map of the Railway from the earth quarry near the top right corner to the airport site in the bottom left corner. Note the siding just after it crosses Jalan Eunos, this is most likely the site of the locomotive depot close to the quarry as the line runs through swamps on the site of the airfield. The original airfield was the 1 km circle as shown but after the swamp was reclaimed and the land settled the runway was extended across the swamp for a total length of 1675 metres (5496').
The Mandai Quarry
This was jointly owned by the Singapore Municipal Council and the Singapore Harbour Board. The land was acquired in 1920-21 and quarrying operations commenced in 1925 when the metre gauge quarry railway was connected to the FMSR main line. Two locomotives were purchased from Hawthorn Leslie in 1925 and 1927 for use in the quarry and these were maintained by the Singapore Harbour Board, who supplied additional motive power when required. Most of the granite was required by the Singapore Harbour Board and in 1935 they took over the whole operation including the locomotives.
The two photographs above were taken from Woodlands, probably in 1922 as the work appears to be well advanced. The lines on the right lead into Woodlands station which is just out of sight on the right. The vehicles in the right-hand picture appear to be Ford model T 7-seater "mosquito buses", probably waiting to return workers to their homes. The contractors were Topham, Jones & Railton. Construction commenced in 1920 and took 3 years.
The old photograph on the left was captioned "Johore Causeway" but it actually shows the Selangor Government Railway station and goods yard in Kuala Lumpur and was taken c 1886. The full picture with many others will appear on my History of railways around Kuala Lumpur which is currently under construction.
Locomotive listing for causeway works
Manning Wardle 1119/1889 0-6-0ST Std Gauge K class GOWY ex Swansea 1921, returned 1925
Manning Wardle 1331/1897 0-6-0ST Std Gauge L class WYMONDLEY ex UK, returned by 1927
Manning Wardle 1413/1898 0-6-0ST Std Gauge H class KELANTAN
Manning Wardle 1461/1899 0-6-0ST Std Gauge H class KEDAH scrapped 1927
Manning Wardle 1579/1902 0-6-0ST Std Gauge L class PAHANG returned to UK by 1929
Manning Wardle 1585/1902 0-6-0ST Std Gauge L class PERAK
|In 1928 Atkinson Walker supplied
four of these metre-gauge vertical-boiler chain driven rail tractors to
the Singapore Municipal Council. They had works numbers 105-108.
Interestingly, the above picture of No 2 in the Locomotive magazine for
1928 has very different bodywork to number 4 in the picture on
the right, which appears to be a works photograph when new. I have yet to find any details of where they
were used, but the Council was responsible for the provision of water,
electricity, gas, roads and bridges and street lighting. It is also known
to have been involved with large construction projects, similar to Kallang
airport, which had a 3' gauge railway (see above).
Previously, in 1927, Sentinel had shipped an 0-4-0 steam railcar to the Singapore Municipal Council but nothing more is known about this.
This page created 2nd September 2006
Updated 26th August 2017
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