Camels and Cadillacs

Camels and Cadillacs” by Phil Girdlestone

Girdlestone P., Camels and Cadillacs – A History of the South African Railways 25 Class Condensers and 25NC 4-8-4s, publ. Stenvalls, 2014. 160 pages A4 (297 x 210mm).

Phil Girdlestone’s long awaited book has been published by Stenvalls and can be purchased from the publisher in Sweden ( or from the author in South Africa ( It is also available through Camden Miniature Steam Services in the UK for a price of £28.50.

The book provides a detailed account of the history of the iconic Class 25 and 25NC locomotives, including an outline of their antecedents, the decision-making processes that went into their conception, their design, manufacture, delivery, assembly and operation.

Of particular interest is the story of the famous Condensers which, given their radical and complex design, proved remarkably successful in practice once the inevitable teething troubles had been resolved.  They were nevertheless significantly more expensive to operate and maintain than the non-condensing locomotives, which accounted for the decision to remove their condensing apparatus as soon as diesel traction had replaced them on the (waterless) route southwest from Da Aar.

The book is described in more detail in the flyer copied below, produced by the publisher: