Tom Short on Pagottan Sugar MillJournal
In August 2019, we received a guest from England, Tom Short. As he was taking a summer holiday to several countries, and he was also on his way to Australia. He thought he’d stopped by at Java, Indonesia, to share his story on his expedition on his last search for Java’s last remaining steam. His trip took place between the 5th to 12th August 2019.
Beforehand, he already did his own research about Indonesia’s current news on steam railways. As he had to find travel agents that did such tour, he couldn’t find one since the tour was quite unusual. But with the recommendation of John Raby, he stumbled upon us, Aditya and Marshell, as owners of Leisure Time Tour. Therefore we wasted no time in taking our opportunity as we were willing to help him with his Java’s last steam loco expeditions. His curiosity in Java steams had been ongoing for the past 3 to 4 years.
Based on our early discussions, we mentioned that there are still 3 sugar mills which used steam on regular day to day basis as per 2019. These are Purwodadi and Pagottan Sugar Mills which are located on the region of a small town of Madiun, East Java, and Semboro Sugar Mill, located on the region of Jember, also in East Java. Before we carry on, for those who are new, you may notice the abbreviation of ‘PG’ when visiting Java Sugar Mills. It is just basically an abbreviation for Pabrik Gula which in English means Sugar Mill. Hence PG = Pabrik Gula = Sugar Mill. PG Purwodadi = Purwodadi Sugar Mill.
Narrow gauge cane trains are always related to sugar mills, wherever they are. Just as in Taiwan and in the Negros Island in Phillipines, Java does also resemble the same thing. In Indonesia, during the period when the Dutch traders decided to set up sugar cane plantations, the best means of transport of bringing sugar canes to the mill was via narrow gauge cane trains, operated on steam locos. These narrow gauge cane trains normally bring canes from cane fields to a sugar mill, or to transfer canes from one sugar mill to another, which is also what happened in Java.
On 6th August 2019, Tom arrived and we picked him up at his hotel in Surabaya, located nearby the airport. Straight away he was whizzed away to the small town of Madiun. On our way, he managed to spot several plantations, which amongst these are rice, sugar canes, onions, as well as teak plantations. During his time of arrival, as it as the cane cutting season, meant that it was also during the dry season, which was made even more obvious from a couple of the teak trees being burnt out.
2 hours spent on the road prior to our arrival in Madiun. Upon our arrival, Rejoagung Sugar Mill was in sight. We stopped by for Tom to take a photo of the plinthed Rejoagung mallet loco, the only one remaining since all Rejoagung steams are scrapped, before continuing to Madiun railway Station to take a photo of the plinthed C2606 steam. Shortly after, we made our way into Pagottan Sugar Mill.
We arrived at Pagottan Sugar Mill. It was made more obvious by the smell of the canes being milled and rinsed for their juice. Just beyond the fence, we managed to peak to see the no.8 O&K 0-10-0 fireless converted Luthermoller was in motion. The loco was originally a wood burner, but it was changed (modified) into a fireless steam, operated using residue steam being pumped out of the milling machine within the mill. A quick observation and some shots of no.8 O&K 0-10-0 loco being in motion, before it stopped as the crew took their lunch break. We decided to kill our time by taking a walk inside the mill to let Tom know how the sugar is being produced from sugar canes. click here for picture Pagottan Sugar Mill
We decided to let Tom know the remnants of the former Pagottan Railway Station, located along the former roadside steam tramline of the Madiun to Ponorogo line. The station building is still in situ just in between the overgrown bushes. The tracks have been lifted, and the track bed have been converted into a narrow street.
Shortly after, we went back to the mill to observe the diesels working the empties to the truck crane gantry, located on the yard outside the mill premises. Further good news arrived, as locos no.6 & 7 came to live and were in motion. Both of them are also fireless converted 0-10-0 O&K Luthermollers. Approximately 3 to 4 hours were spent at Pagottan Sugar Mill, before we took a photo of the plinthed O&K loco just round the corner of the mill gate, as we head back towards Madiun Town Centre. For all Pg Pagottan picture, Click here Paggotan
On our way back to Madiun Town Centre, we stopped at the now shut down Kanigoro Sugar Mill. The steams that were once in the shed were being put out in the open air within the mill yard. One of the last steams to be active, a no.5 O&K 0-8-0T, was renamed Tomas, the same name as our guest. Straight away Tom (Short) loved Tom, as ‘Tom’ became Tom’s favourite steam, probably due to the fact that they both share the same name. Tom had a look around ‘Tom’ as well as the other steams that were being put out in the open air. From his observations, the two remaining active steams just may still have some life left in them, despite needing a massive repair since they weren’t used for more than three years as the mill last operated in 2015. Picture Kanigoro visit here
Back in Madiun, we parked our car near the level crossing of Madiun Railway Station as Tom took more shots of the C2606 plinted steam, in addition to taking photos of the mainline diesel hauling a rake of petrol tankers that appeared from the nearby Pertamina Depot. As the sun was setting, we set off to Merdeka Hotel preparing for yet another fun day of steam expedition on the following day. Click here to see Madiun Railway station