Bulawayo Railway Museum

Bulawayo Railway Museum is a museum next to Bulawayo railway station in Zimbabwe, with several exhibits of the history of railways in Zimbabwe and Rhodesia. Its oldest exhibits date back as far as 1897, and include Cecil Rhodes' personal railway coach.

About The Bulawayo Railway Museum

The museum is situated behind the Bulawayo Railway Station, in the Raylton suburb of Bulawayo in western Zimbabwe. Access is possible via the pedestrian footbridge at the station. The museum is located in an area that was previously a workshop used in the maintenance of refrigeration wagons.

The Museum is owned by the National Railways of Zimbabwe. Opened in 1972, the Museum displays a wealth of small exhibits and models as well as steam and diesel electric locomotives.

Details of the Exhibits can be found on www.geoff-trains.com

A History of the Railway

by Geoff Cooke

The development of the Railways in Zimbabwe was directed by several considerations, among which was the need to serve the towns, mines and farms which were fast being established before the turn of the century, and to link the landlocked country with sea-ports in Mozambique and South Africa.

Line construction began from Fontesvilla, 56km inland from Beira, to Umtali (Mutare) in Septernber 1892, and from Vryburg in the Cape Province to Bulawayo in May 1893. The Bulawayo line was completed in October 1897 and the Mutare line in February 1898. The link between Salisbury (Harare) and Bulawayo was finally completed in October 1902 after initial construction was brought to a halt by the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War in October 1899, when materials had to be brought in on the Beira line.

The next stage was the line northwards from Bulawayo, which began in 1903, crossed the Zambezi River at Victoria Falls in September 1905 and reached the Congo border in December 1909.

For several years this whole system was operated by the Mashonaland Railway Company under the title Beira and Mashonaland and Rhodesia Railways, but on 1 October 1927 Rhodesia Railways Company became the working company. On 1 October 1936 Rhodesia Railways Limited became the owners of the whole railway system in Zimbabwe and Zambia as well as the Vryburg-Bulawayo section. The line from Vryburg to Ramatlhabama on the Botswana border was acquired by South African Railways in December 1959.

On 1 April 1947 the then Rhodesian Government acquired the assets of Rhodesia Railways Limited and on 1 November 1949 the undertaking became a statutory body known as Rhodesia Railways. On 1 July 1967 the system was divided at the Victoria Falls bridge, with Zambia Railways in the north and Rhodesia Railways in the south.

The Rhodesia Railways was re-designated Zimbabwe Rhodesia Railways on 1 June 1979 and finally National Railways of Zimbabwe on 1 May 1980 soon after the attainment of national Independence.