The little French engine

The little French engine is in very poor condition in a backyard at the Port of Recife

The Port of Recife’s administrative building shelters a steam engine in one of its back patios.In truth, the machine — which is exposed to the elements, rusty and in very poor shape — is one of the few French-made steam engines that remain in Brazil. It is the little Lutece, built in 1901 by Societé Française de Constructions Mecaniques – Anciens Etabts Cail. Its serial number is 2.556 and it has a 0-6-2 wheel set.

According to researcher Eddie Edmundson — an Englishman who was the representative of the British Council in Recife for a number of years and currently is is in Cuba — the Lutece was originally built for the Societé Générale des Chemins de Fer Economiques, but never was operated by this railroad. Edmundson cites another researcher, Philippe Quiot, who stated that the Lutece originally had serial number 3712 and was called “Vimpelles.”

There is lack of information about how the engine wound up in Recife. It is known that it helped haul stones used to build a dike at the port.

Locomotive 3714, the same model as the Lutece, being refurbished in France by Cail
Photo from Cail, the manufacturer of engine 3714

Built in 1901, the Lutece contains a tank around the boiler

Apparently, only one other engine identical to the Lutece exists. In fact, through correspondence with the French consulate in Recife, Cail executives had proposed to the port administration the possibility of bringing the Lutece back to France for fully restoring it. However, according to the commercial director of the Port of Recife, Pedro Augusto Melo, the negotiations did not bear fruit. Lutece’s “suster,” recently restored by Cail, was built for the Societé Générale des Chemins de Fer Economiques under serial number 3714.