Bulawayo Railway Museum, Zimbabwe

This steam engine was last used in February 1955,
and was given to the museum in 1972

We caught a fascinating glimpse into the history of rail travel in this part of the world when we visited the Bulawayo Railway Museum.  Although the museum is technically owned by the National Railways of Zimbabwe, it has been left to a few local enthusiasts to keep it funded.

We got to wander around, and even climb into the engines and carriages. I didn’t think I was a railway enthusiast, but this was fun.

David and Becca working the Pump Hand Cart

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country, and it was essential to develop a link to the coast, as well as enable travel to and from the small towns and farms developing over the land in the early years. The first line began construction in 1892 from Fontesvilla in Mozambique, 56 km inland from Beira, to Umtali (now called Mutare). From there, a network was established over the whole country.

The Bulawayo Railway Museum reflects the 124 years of rail travel in Zimbabwe through its wonderful collection of rail memorabilia from a bygone era. It even has Cecil John Rhodes' private carriage, complete with its original cutlery.

Cecil John Rhodes' private rail coach

We were able to climb up into this coach to explore the inside.
There we found some memories from the past

Who remembers having one of these?

…or using these?

While wandering around the museum, I happened across
this old public telephone box…

…with this really old fashioned telephone inside, which even predates me!

 We were also able to climb up into the cab of an engine to inspect the steam boiler

The Centenary Train

This engine was last used in 1997, when she pulled a train from Figtree to celebrate the centenary of the arrival of the railway in the City of Bulawayo.

This was a fun day out, and one which I heartily recommend if ever you find yourself in Bulawayo. Thank you Becca for encouraging us to go.

Elizabeth Coughlan

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