The Kampala to Bombo Railway - a Stronach-Dutton Roadrail Line in the 1920s

Status
Not open for further replies.
Joined
21 Feb 2018
Messages
518
At the insistence of the Governor of Uganda an independent novel rail system was tried out in the early 1920s. The trial resulted in the building of a line between Kampala and Bombo which operated during the middle years of that decade. Ultimately, the system failed and it was closed well before the end of the decade.


This was a project run by the Direct Works department of the protectorate/colony and was not part of the much wider network of "The Uganda Railway" which stretched from Mombasa on the coast of Kenya to Kampala and eventually on the Kasese in the West of the Country. A series of articles about the much larger network can be found by following this link:


I discovered this line when I came across it in an article by Henry Lubega. I have discovered quite a bit more about the design philosophy since then. The system used for the line, the Stronagh-Dutton Roadrail System, is referred to elsewhere – particularly in “Narrow Gauge Steam … and other railway curiosities, Volume 1,” a ‘bookazene’ published by Kelsey Publishing and in a relatively short publication by the Narrow Gauge Society.

At first look, it seems quite an ingenious idea – removing the weight of the locomotive from the rails enabled much lighter rails to be used. In practice, however a whole series of factors rendered the idea impracticable.
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

Calthrop

Established Member
Joined
6 Dec 2015
Messages
2,475
Interesting follow-up to your Feb. 2019 thread about -- if I have things rightly -- the earlier line which did more or less the same job, viz.linking Kampala to its lake port; which was a Ewing monorail (large driving wheel on parallel road) -- same arrangement as the better-known Patiala line in India. The Stronach-Dutton system is a new one on me: would seem a bit akin to the Ewing one, though with "more rails and wheels". One tends perhaps to feel that the late 19th / early 20th century era was one very rich in ingenious railway-related inventions; but many of them, frankly, in the Heath Robinson / Emett / Professor Branestawm ballpark.

A similar method can be seen to have obtained on the narrow-gauge Snailbeach District Railway, in its last dozen years of (truncated) operation, when all the line's locos were so run-down as no longer to be to be usable; at Snailbeach, the thing was improvised, and no kind of official "patent" job. Wagons of stone were sent down by gravity to the lower terminal; and periodically hauled back up to the quarry by an ordinary farm tractor, with its wheels straddling the rails.
 
Joined
21 Feb 2018
Messages
518
Hi Calthrop,

Interesting, yes.

Headed North from Kampala rather than towards Port Bell, but there were thoughts about altering the Port Bell line to the Stronach Dutton system. The change did not materialise.

Good job, in the end, as the system did not survive!

Best wishes

Roger
 

Calthrop

Established Member
Joined
6 Dec 2015
Messages
2,475
Hi Calthrop,

Interesting, yes.

Headed North from Kampala rather than towards Port Bell, but there were thoughts about altering the Port Bell line to the Stronach Dutton system. The change did not materialise.

Good job, in the end, as the system did not survive!

Best wishes

Roger

My bolding -- thanks ! -- seems that I could use a course in "Ugandan Geography 101" :smile: .
 

Dr_Paul

Member
Joined
3 Sep 2013
Messages
1,049
I used to work for the Crown Agents, a government department which worked on behalf of colonial/post-colonial governments' departments, including East African Railways, and it had a big archive of photographs, with many of railway rolling stock and locomotives. I think it's still in operation, whether the archives have been passed to the National Archives, I don't know.
 
Joined
21 Feb 2018
Messages
518
My bolding -- thanks ! -- seems that I could use a course in "Ugandan Geography 101" :smile: .
No worries!

I used to work for the Crown Agents, a government department which worked on behalf of colonial/post-colonial governments' departments, including East African Railways, and it had a big archive of photographs, with many of railway rolling stock and locomotives. I think it's still in operation, whether the archives have been passed to the National Archives, I don't know.
Hi Dr Paul

I have heard this elsewhere as well. I .not sure how to find / access them. I have also been told that at one time a significant archive was held in Nairobi (back in the 1970s) but not sure where that is now.
 

181

Member
Joined
12 Feb 2013
Messages
531
a Ewing monorail (large driving wheel on parallel road) -- same arrangement as the better-known Patiala line in India
I think the Ewing system is a bit different -- the rail wheels are responsible for traction as well as guidance and weight-bearing, and the large road wheel is just for balance.
 

Calthrop

Established Member
Joined
6 Dec 2015
Messages
2,475
Interesting follow-up to your Feb. 2019 thread about -- if I have things rightly -- the earlier line which did more or less the same job, viz.linking Kampala to its lake port; which was a Ewing monorail (large driving wheel on parallel road) -- same arrangement as the better-known Patiala line in India. The Stronach-Dutton system is a new one on me: would seem a bit akin to the Ewing one, though with "more rails and wheels".

I think the Ewing system is a bit different -- the rail wheels are responsible for traction as well as guidance and weight-bearing, and the large road wheel is just for balance.

@181: I suspect that we may be at cross-purposes here. Further quoting (above) my post, a section of which you quote: as should be seen above, I was harking back to an earlier thread by the OP, "An Early Monorail in Uganda": commencing 28 / 2 / 2019 (I'd do a link to that thread; but seem to lack the skill for posting such links on this site). That thread concerned an earlier, and different, eccentric "short line" (short-lived !) in the Kampala area; which by my understanding was a Ewing monorail, as was also the Patiala line -- only, the Kampala outfit mainly used animal haulage (bullocks), with a little use of "steam tractors" late in its career; whereas Patiala was steam throughout its life.

My intention was to remark on a perceived slight similarity between the Stronach-Dutton, and Ewing, principles: not all that much like each other, but both with more resemblance to each other, than to railways of the fully conventional kind -- pointed-up by the interesting oddity of the two "patent" systems having both been used in the same small area of the same territory in Africa. If in this, I'm still missing your point in your post -- apologies; while strange and uncommon rail "variations on the basic theme" delight me, I admit to being a highly un-technical type !
 

181

Member
Joined
12 Feb 2013
Messages
531
@181: I suspect that we may be at cross-purposes here. Further quoting (above) my post, a section of which you quote: as should be seen above, I was harking back to an earlier thread by the OP, "An Early Monorail in Uganda": commencing 28 / 2 / 2019 (I'd do a link to that thread; but seem to lack the skill for posting such links on this site). That thread concerned an earlier, and different, eccentric "short line" (short-lived !) in the Kampala area; which by my understanding was a Ewing monorail, as was also the Patiala line -- only, the Kampala outfit mainly used animal haulage (bullocks), with a little use of "steam tractors" late in its career; whereas Patiala was steam throughout its life.

My intention was to remark on a perceived slight similarity between the Stronach-Dutton, and Ewing, principles: not all that much like each other, but both with more resemblance to each other, than to railways of the fully conventional kind -- pointed-up by the interesting oddity of the two "patent" systems having both been used in the same small area of the same territory in Africa. If in this, I'm still missing your point in your post -- apologies; while strange and uncommon rail "variations on the basic theme" delight me, I admit to being a highly un-technical type !

Apologies if I'm contributing to the confusion, but when you said:

Ewing monorail (large driving wheel on parallel road)

did you mean 'supporting' or 'balancing' rather than 'driving'? -- that would make sense.

Here is the other thread, if people are interested.

On the general theme of transport systems with both road and rail elements, modern examples like this (mentioned on the other thread) and this may be of interest to people who don't already know about them. (Apologies to the OP if this is getting too far from the original subject).
 

Calthrop

Established Member
Joined
6 Dec 2015
Messages
2,475
Apologies if I'm contributing to the confusion, but when you said:



did you mean 'supporting' or 'balancing' rather than 'driving'? -- that would make sense.

I did mean "supporting / balancing" -- not "driving". Am, as I said, a techno-idiot :oops: .
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top