Bulawayo Railway Museum

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Bulawayo Railway Museum
Locomotive rail musuem.JPG
LocationBulawayo
Established1972

Bulawayo Railway Museum (est. 1972) is a railway museum located at Bulawayo railway station in Zimbabwe, that houses several exhibitions on the history of the railway system in Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia.Its oldest exhibits date back to 1897 and include Cecil Rhodes' personal railway coach.

The museum is owned by NRZ. Due to the severe shortage of rolling stock, some steam locomotives in the museum have, in the past, been refurbished and returned to service

History

The Museum office was the station building for Shamva from 1931 until moved and re-erected in its current position in 1972. Many of the exhibits are in the open as they are large and comprise heavy steam and diesel locomotives and rolling stock; it’s a refreshing change to be able to climb into the cab and imagine oneself as an engine driver steaming down the railway line!

The first trains were narrow gauge and travelling from Beira to Macequece (modern-day Manica) in 1897 was exciting and eventful. The narrow gauge lines soon gave way to the standard gauge of 1.07 metres (3 foot 6 inches) and the locomotives evolved from the small wood-burning engines pulling 7,160 lbs to the massive Beyer Garrett capable of pulling 52,364 lbs. Both these types and more are represented at the Railway Museum.

Why Visit

The railways have played an absolutely vital and integral part of Zimbabwe’s development and this was recognized from as early as 1892 when a start was made to build a two foot gauge line from Fontesville (on the Pungwe River inland of Beira) to Mutare. In 1893 work commenced on extending the three foot six inch line (1.067 metres) from Vryburg in the Cape north to Bulawayo. In 1897 the railway reached Bulawayo and by 1900 three-quarters of the current railway system had been built mostly by George Pauling. The Bulawayo Railway Museum recognizes this achievement and pays homage to the railwaymen: engineers, surveyors, station masters, drivers and guards who laid and maintained the railways, many died in the process.

Key Railway Dates

Key Railway Dates
1897 Mafikeng to Bulawayo line opened
1898 Beira railway to Mutare opened (2 foot gauge
1899 Mutare to Harare line opened (3 foot 6 inch gauge)
1900 Beira railway to Mutare converted to 3 foot 6 inch gauge
1902 Bulawayo to Harare line opened
1904 Bulawayo to Victoria Falls line opened
1949 Rhodesia Railways Ltd, a private company becomes Rhodesia Railways
1979 Zimbabwe Rhodesia Railways
1980 National Railways of Zimbabwe

When to visit

All year round Monday to Sunday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Fee

An entrance fee is chargeable

Zimbabwe Monuments, Galleries And Museums