Ted Hamer, who died at 69 on 16 May 2012, was well known for documenting and publishing definitive works – as well as much other writing – on the motive power of the Rhodesia Railways, later the National Railways of Zimbabwe. Born in Lichfield, England, and educated in Croydon, Ted was an enthusiastic visitor to local engine sheds as a boy. Initially he thought of a career in the medical world but in 1964 went to work in the district engineer’s drawing office at Taunton, in British Rail’s Western Region. From 1972 he spent six years in the Rhodesia Railways chief civil engineer’s drawing office in Bulawayo, then took up biblical studies in England. In 1981, his Steam Locomotives of Rhodesia Railways was published. Nearly twenty years later, Locomotives of Zimbabwe & Botswana appeared. In the years between, Hamer documented a variety of Rhodesia Railways anecdotal material in a small soft cover entitled Sidelines. More recently, he was the editor of the Permanent Way Institution Journal in Britain. As well as a church minister, Ted Hamer was a science and English schoolmaster. It was during his ministering and teaching period back in the new Zimbabwe in the small rural Midlands town of Kadoma that he became a serious collector of railway memorabilia and turned his hand to preservation. Two Rhodesia Railways’ Garratts – a class 14 and the initial class 15 (significant for its participation in the Royal Tour of Southern Africa in 1947) – were rescued from Bulawayo and plinthed in the town. A narrow gauge 0-4-2T Peckett from the Selukwe Peak Light Railway, east of Gweru, was added to the static exhibition as well as a wooden, balcony 3rd class saloon from the Rhodesia Railways. Former Selukwe Peak Light Railway 1914-built Orenstein & Koppel 0-6-0T named Elsa (at one time or another in industrial use in both Zimbabwe and South Africa), was a feature in Ted Hamer’s school-house garden at Jameson High School in Kadoma during the early eighties. The loco accompanied the Hamer family when they went back to the United Kingdom and is to be returned to steam according to Ted’s hands-on son David. Ted Hamer is survived by his wife Diane and four children – and there is another manuscript, still to be published.
- Based on notes by John Batwell