The Mountain Railway
1903 - 1929
Sierra Leone Government Railway
1897 - 1975
We're currently working on a full history of the Sierra Leone Government Railway. Until then, you can find a good basic outline on Wikipedia.
In 1903, 5.5 mile line was built from Cotton Tree in Freetown through the city, past Wilberforce and up to Hill Station. This was built for Europeans to travel from their homes built high up to travel down to the city with ease. It closed in 1929 as motor cars and buses made travel by road faster and easier.
There were countless light, narrow gauge railways in use all over the world to help move goods or equipment about in industrial locations or to help construction projects. We know from maps that there were several in the docks areas of Freetown in the early 1900s. They usually only carried freight using small wagons, and it's unlikely that there were any locomotives. We rescued a small "tipper" wagon from a scapyard in 2007 and we have it on display as a representation pf these little railways.
A large freight-only railway was built to carry iron ore from Marampa to Pepel on the coast, for export. This 3'6" gauge railway had huge locomotives and wagons. There are more details here. The line has been rebuilt in recent years and is now the only working railway in Sierra Leone. It does not run public passenger trains.
Industrial and construction railways
The Sierra Leone Development Corporation Railway
1933 - 1975, then 2011, ongoing
The Railways of Salone
Sierra Leone can attribute the development of its economic wealth and prosperity to the introduction of an extensive railway network. From the late 19th Century, after a number of false starts., the merchants of Liverpool invested in was became a vast system of over 350 miles, of 2 ft 6 inch narrow gauge railway. This, the Sierra Leone Government Railway, closed in 1975.
We'll be publishing more details on the various railways' construction, use, impact and eventual closure on here during 2015.
Our book "Sierra Leone Railway Adventure" by a Senior Curator of the UK's National Railway Museum, Anthony Coulls, is now available to buy online for a very reasonable £3.00 + P&P. Please do order a copy online now; every penny is needed to help support the museum.