December 11, 2016

2897 MALAYSIA (Sabah) - Vulcan Steam Locomotive in Sabah

The 1880's had brought about a great change in Borneo under the British Government. With the establishment of the British North Borneo Company, the so-called 'White Rajahs' as known by locals, were enabled to obtain parts of North Borneo from the Sultan of Sulu. Soon, experimental land cultivation for coffee, coconuts, tobacco, ramin and cocoa received full support from the Company and this prompted the development of better infrastructure facilities.

The success of the tobacco industry created a high demand for land, but there were no means of transporting harvests out of the fields. Construction of the then North Borneo Railway began in 1896 under the command of engineer Arthur J. West with his assistant Gounon, a member of the Murut people from Keningau. The first line built was a 32 km track from Bukau River, north to Beaufort, the old capital of British North Borneo, and south to the port of Weston.

This was then extended with a further 48 km route in 1903 to Tenom, the works for which was completed in 1905. The line was extended again in 1906 with a further 16 km from Tenom to Melalap. At the same time as this, work began on another line from Beaufort to Jesselton (now known as Kota Kinabalu), which was completed in 1903, running mostly near or beside the coast. With the completion of these works the network routes covered some 193 km.

The network was almost entirely destroyed during the WWII. In 1949 the North Borneo Railway embarked on an ambitious programme to rehabilitate the network and improve service, and they did so again in 1960. However, in 1963 the decision was made to close the Weston branch line, and in 1970 the Melalap extension from Tenom was also closed to traffic. The line was closed in 2007 for maintenance and repair. The section Tanjung Aru-Beaufort reopened in 2011.

The North Borneo Railway aims to give the experience of the bygone era of British North Borneo by transporting passengers back through time along the life line of Sabah. The passenger carriages have been meticulously designed and appointed to recreate the décor and ambiance of first class carriages of yore. The materials are all locally produced, and would have been available at the turn of the century. The exterior utilizes the traditional deep green and cream of the original North Borneo Railway, with carved brass logos on the sides

The locomotive, the last of a fleet of steam engines that have plied the tracks through Borneo, is also part of the last order of three steam locomotive received by the Vulcan Foundry in Lancashire (England) in 1954. It is an Austerity version of an Indian 'Y' Class locomotive - the result a neat 2-6-2 tender locomotive of 58'-0" length, weighing 85 tons. The engine, designed for wood burning, is finished in traditional dark green and black, with a red stripe.

About the stamps
The stamp is part of the series Birds of Malaysia, about which I wrote here. The stamp, showing Bunga Teratai (Nelumbium nelumba), is part of the series Garden Flowers, about which I wrote here.

The North Borneo Railway Project - The International Steam Pages
Steam's Twilight Years - Anson Engine Museum
Sabah State Railway - Wikipedia

Sender: Shane Tan (direct swap)
Sent from Puchong (Selangor / Malaysia), on 07.11.2016

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