16mm Projects

Kerr Stuart 677 Alan Poxon


Kerr Stuart 677

The start of the Second Boer War in 1899 found the British Empire forces rather unprepared and they soon suffered a series of military setbacks. A number of townships were under siege by the Boers, so additional manpower and equipment was urgently required. The Royal Engineers started to build up a supply depot, or siege park as they called it, and a narrow gauge railway was needed to efficiently move the military stores from the standard gauge railhead.

Such was the urgency that the British War Office placed an order for two locomotives with Kerr Stuart for delivery within just ten days. The locomotives required were 2 ft gauge 0-4-0 tank engines of the Kerr Stuart Sirdar class. At the time, three locomotives of this class were being built for a company employed in the construction of the Nile Barrage in Egypt. Consequently, two of these locomotives, with works numbers 676 and 677, were diverted to fulfill the War Office contract.

In 2019, Smallbrook Studio launched their first 16mm narrow gauge model: a Kerr Stuart Sirdar. The main components are vacuum moulded resin, with the side tanks containing metal within the moulding to help weight the model and aid the adhesion between wheels and track. Additional components are brass, copper, steel and plastic as appropriate. All the fixings and electrical components are included, just need to add two AA batteries. The written instructions are very comprehensive although hard to follow at times with just a few photographs but no diagrams included.

Construction of the kit went smoothly enough and the model was soon ready for running trials. The 3V motor turned the wheels nicely but struggled when all of the running gear was added. I intend to substitute a more powerful motor, and metal wheels, in the easily removed sub-frame, at some stage. For now, I have completed the model with all of the detailing included in the kit. The model is finished in original all over black livery and prototypical works plates were sourced from Narrow Planet. The Royal Engineers driver and fireman resin figures were obtained from Motley Miniatures.

To complement the loco I modified three small PS Models wagons based on a photograph of the prototypes that I located on the internet. These were single plank wagons with curved ends to assist sheeting. I made up the Royal Engineers loads with resin crates and barrels sourced at the Elsecar Show. Three link chain holds the small trucks, that are about the size of slate wagons, too far apart to look prototypical so I used fishing swivels to good effect.

With the end of the Boer War in 1902, the two Kerr Stuart locomotives were sold as military surplus to a local farmer who ran them on what became known as the Pankop Firewood Line. As the name suggests, the railway hauled firewood between the standard gauge mainline and the settlement of Pankop. The formation of the Central South African Railway in 1905 saw the extension of this line and the two locomotives, then known as Pankop engines, sometimes used back-to-back to cope with heavier trains.

In 1910, the railway was absorbed into the newly established South African Railways and, subsequently, the two locomotives were numbered NG40 and NG41. In the late 1920s, South African Railways narrow gauge locomotives were organized into classes with NG40 and NG41 becoming the only members of class NG1. Both locomotives were eventually withdrawn from service in 1931. Quite some history, even if you only have a passing interest in military narrow gauge locomotives.


1-Boiler assembly and sub-frame.

2-Ready for running trials.

3-Kerr Stuart 677 as delivered in 1899.

4-Royal Engineers Siege Park Wagons

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