Sandstone Heritage Trust’s locomotive assets
Questions relating to the security of the Sandstone Heritage Trust’s locomotive assets.
The collection of assets at Sandstone Estates is very securely housed, maintained and operated where necessary. At present we are involved in a high level dialogue with the Rail Safety Regulator concerning the need to adopt a Heritage Railway specification in South Africa, more specifically for 2-ft Narrow Gauge railways that are ring-fenced or isolated from any other railway network.
The Rail Safety Regulator has only one specification in South Africa and we are being treated as a Main Line railway and therefore we are having various restrictions placed on our operations and we are having to upgrade parts of our infrastructure at enormous costs to levels that we believe are entirely unnecessary for the axle loading and speed of operation of our railway.
Our current Rail Safety Regulator permit expires at the end of 2019 but going beyond that we have advised the RSR that we cannot comply with the demands being made on us with regard to Civil Engineering issues, nor can we comply with the requirement that all repairs to locomotives be placed under their control and be subjected to inspections.
One should appreciate that there are enormous costs which accompany each and every one of these regulations which are currently being promulgated quicker than we can deal with them.
We have worked hard for many years to accommodate the Rail Safety Regulator’s long list of demands but we have reached the stage where it is unsustainable for a railway that operates at slow speeds like ours.
We have forwarded copies of the British Heritage Rail specifications to the authorities with a strong recommendation that they implement something similar in South Africa.
The rumours that are going around regarding the disposal of Heritage assets etc. are entirely incorrect. We are simply in a state of limbo while we negotiate with the authorities to take a more realistic view of operations like ours.
Community Train a great success at Stars 2015
On the last day of our Stars 2015 event, namely Sunday, 12th April 2015, we invited our employees and members of the local community with their families to join us for a train ride around the entire circuit. This was an ebullient affair with much laughter and perhaps for the first time on our railway ever dancing in every carriage.
The photographs below and the short video captures the spirit of the occasion.
Stars 2015 has commenced
Our Public Day as per details below will take place on Saturday, 11th April 2015.
Should you wish to attend any day other than the 11th you are very welcome to register.
The tariffs for the special days are as follows:
- R 741.00 inclusive of VAT for the head of the family - per day
- R 285.00 inclusive of VAT for the spouse - per day
- R 285.00 inclusive of VAT per person aged 13-18 years old - per day
- R 741.00 inclusive of VAT for individual adult visitors - per day
All of the above tariffs include meals.
Should you have any queries please contact the Sandstone office on Tel: 051933 2235 or 076 0246188.
Classic Aircraft attendance – Stars 2015
The following aircraft will be operational during Stars 2015:
ZU-ALO Allouette II
ZS-WZI Cessna 185
ZS-NHN Tiger Moth
ZS-BGN Tiger Moth
ZU-VAL Cessna 180
ZU-AOP Harvard AT6
ZS-EUU Stampe SV4
Stars Of Sandstone 2015 Registration
Sandstone's UK office number
Sandstone's UK office number
Please note that with immediate effect Sandstone’s UK office number is now as follows:
Tel: +44 (0)1189 819600.
Interesting Visitor to the Farm
Interesting Visitor to the Farm
On Thursday (16 August) we had a visit from a guy called Neil Muller who left Cape Town Station on 2 June 2012 on his bicycle. He did the first 680 km on foot and is making his way through South Africa to Dar Es Salaam, he hopes to complete this in 8 months. He is travelling along the railway line and is doing this to create awareness for public transport and old railway buildings. He relies on people to give him accommodation and food on the way. So if you can help in any way - the contact details are on www.opsporetussenstasies.weebly.com
Kalahari Sunrise - two weeks on after the event...
Kalahari Sunrise - two weeks after the event...
The Cosmos out flanked us this year but to celebrate its awakening we took Lawley No. 97 out early this morning (Friday, 14th April 2012) to catch the beauty of the flowers, the landscape, and the locomotive.
Exhibit Gallery - Kalahari Sunrise
Kalahari Sunrise Programme
The programme for the event has been updated as at 27th March 2012.
Please click here to view the programme - 181KB Excel Worksheet (opens in new window)
Depending on when our visitors stop by during our 8-day Kalahari event, they may stumble across something interesting.
We have published an exhibit gallery below which is by no means comprehensive but which will be updated daily to give our Internet visitors an idea of what is happening on the ground at Sandstone Estates in the Eastern Free State.
Our 1901 ex De Beers Kimberley Fowler B5 Road Locomotive being steamed ready for some heavy haulage work. Sunlight and steam combine to provide a wonderful mood in one of Sandstone Estates’ machinery sheds.
A team of trained Afrikaner oxen will be out every day.
Our big Bagnall Diesel locomotive (Works No. 3204, 1961, ex Rustenburg Platinum Mine) with its wonderful 8LW Gardner engine will be on standby at all times to provide extra traction as needed.
Our 1951 Series I Land Rover is the oldest item that has been in the collection. It was built in 1951, purchased in 1961, and has been in the ownership of the shareholders of Sandstone Estates ever since. This Land Rover, having spent 10-years working for the Wankie Coal Mines in Zimbabwe from 1951 to 1961 then spent the next 10-years of its life on a farm in Swaziland, then in Johannesburg, and then in the Eastern Free State. It is now over 60-years old and has never had a day off in all that time.
1991 Kenworth T900 manufactured in Australia which provides the bedrock of Sandstone’s heavy haulage programme. On the low bed is a 1955 W-Series Kenworth that spent its entire working life in South Africa, mostly hauling freight between Cape Town and Johannesburg and back.
Our 1940 Marshall Roller which was out on day one consolidating the roads. See link: http://www.sandstone-estates.com/index.php/railway-heritage/39-railway-heritage/2705-the-next-generation-steam-and-heritage-enthusiasts.
Emerson Brantingham Big 4-30 from 1913.
1951 Ford F100 Pick-Up. This vehicle was purchased from a family in Natal who had purchased it new. It originally belonged to the owner’s father and he was already in his 70’s when it was purchased. It is completely unrestored and totally original and is typical of the sorts of vehicles that would have travelled the farm roads 40-50 years ago. The Sandstone Heritage Trust entered this truck in a rally which took it from Johannesburg to Nairobi a few years ago. It travelled a distance of 7,700 kms with only minor technical issues to deal with along the way.
Kerr Stuart No. 4063 opened the proceedings at the Sandstone Heritage Trust Kalahari Sunrise event this year. Our brake man is Barry White, a professional railwayman and now retired from Western Australia and currently working at the Bennett Brook Railway at Whiteman Park in Perth.
Thanks Barry, you not only know what you are doing but you look the part as well.
One of our favourite tractors – a rare 1939 John Deere Model H driven by one of our loyal supporters, Chris Wilson. Chris has enormous experience in John Deere machinery.
An Amateur photographer’s observations
Old and new meet at the level crossing at Hoekfontein.
New tractors on their way to customers – 1957?
Our Peckett Saddle Tank Engine No. 2161.
A hard working survivor from Sena Sugar Estates, Mozambique.
Our Kerr Stuart locomotive, No. 4063, Tamara, taking water at Hoekfontein.
Freight in the marshalling yard.
A view from the train window.
Through the maize lands under dynamic skies.
Our 1927 Chev
A timeless scene
Throughout the week there has been an interesting selection of locomotives operating daily with completely new consists compared to previous years.
Here are some of the configurations that visitors to Kalahari Sunrise were able to experience.
Photo credits: Gary Barnes
Countdown to the event
Tuesday, 20th March
The first group of visitors have arrived and they are now enjoying the magnificent Autumnal weather in the Eastern Free State.
Steam shunting starts tomorrow but a diesel hauled works train was out today carrying out line maintenance.
The Works train returns in the late evening light...
Wednesday, 21st March
Today the consists were assembled - there will be 4 sets as follows:
1) Passenger - open and closed coaches.
2) Military - various vehicles.
3) Industrial Tyres, cable drums , and crates.
4) Agricultural - tractors, implements, spares, and tanks.
The pictures show the assembly and loading of the Narrow Gauge wagons.
Sandstone staff enjoy Christmas party accompanied by steam train ride
Sandstone staff enjoy Christmas party accompanied by steam train ride.
This year we invited our staff and their families to a party at the Railway Station complex. A great time was had by all.
The pictures tell the rest of the story.
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Where to find us
Our GPS co-ordinates are
28° 50' 41.12” S
28° 00’ 15.94” E
The nearest airport is Bloemfontein or for chartered aircraft Ficksburg, the co-ordinates for Ficksburg Airport are
Car Rental at Bloemfontein Airport:
|NAME||TEL NO||FAX NO||WEBSITE|
The only coach company servicing Ficksburg is Intercape Coaches but this is only in peak season (i.e. in December)
The "Shosholoza Meyl" between Johannesberg and Port Elizabeth and another train between Johannesberg and East London both stop in Bloemfontein but from there a car would be required.
Click here to view a list of accommodation in Ficksburg, Fouriesburg and Clarens (PDF 11KB)
Alternatively should you need or prefer professional assistance with your travels plans The Association of South African Travel Agents website http://www.asata.co.za/general/search.asp will help you to find a travel agent in the Free State area as well as other parts of South Africa.
HTN 22 - A visit by members of the Democratic Alliance
Sandstone Heritage Trust - News
HTN 22 - A visit by members of the Democratic Alliance
|Sandstone recently hosted a visit by members of the Democratic Alliance from the Free State Legislature. The delegation led by Mr. Andries Botha, Leader of the DA in the Free State, were given a tour of the farm facilities and attractions from both a tourism and agriculture perspective. The delegation also took a train ride on Sandstone's 2ft narrow gauge railway as part of their tour at the farm.
Photograph by Andre Botha
HTN 25 - VIP Continue to visit Sandstone
Sandstone Heritage Trust - News
HTN 25 - VIP Continue to visit Sandstone
During July Sandstone had visits from the MEC for Tourism from the Free State Province, Dr. Mafereka, Michael Schumann, the Chairman of Welsh Highland Railway spent a weekend at Sandstone Estates, Mr. Rajesh Agrawal from the Darjeeling Himalayan Mountain Railway took time out from his schedule to bring a small delegation to Sandstone Estates, a delegation from the Democratic Alliance including the Head of the Free State, David Thamae, the Speaker of the House for the Ficksburg Assembly, and Robbie Scholtz of the ANC in the Free State.
It is the policy of the Sandstone Heritage Trust to wherever possible steam a train for VIP's so that they might fully comprehend the importance of steam, its relevance to steam tourism and general tourism in particular, and perhaps more importantly to lay the groundwork for a better understanding of alternative fuel and energy sources in the transportation sector.
HTN 61 - Heartland magazine article by Justus Visagie - Spending and bending time at Sandstone Estates
The Sandstone Heritage Trust is a private Preservation initiative established on a commercial farm in the Eastern Free State in South Africa. The present owners purchased the farm from the Wille family in 1995. The farm has been in the continuous ownership of the Willes since the 1840's, which means the farm has only had two owners over a period of 170-years.
The arable farmland along the little Caledon River which constitutes the official border between South Africa and Lesotho is rich in agricultural potential. It is a particularly beautiful part of South Africa with sandstone outcrops nestling under the towering Maluti Mountains which sit high above the Drakensburg range. It is an area where farming has proceeded quietly using traditional methods for centuries.
Many of the farmers living in this area have a great sense of history and had preserved farming machinery and continued with farming practices which are more nostalgic than commercially realistic. The farm Hoekfontein was therefore in a way a living museum with Lanz Bulldog and John Deere 720 diesel tractors still in daily use. Notwithstanding the fact that they were simply going about their business, the Willes without realising it had created an environment which would have delighted any agricultural machinery enthusiast.
The new owners recognized this and decided from the outset that they would do everything they could to maintain the facilities, machinery and even the skills needed to keep the old farm machinery and farming methods operational. The machinery is not obsolete from a practical agricultural standpoint and so to this day the practice of continuing to use old machinery to carry out important functions on the farm is studiously adhered to.
The Midmar Museum which was a joint venture between the Kwa-Zulu Natal Parks Department and the Heritage section of the National Railways was dissolved by mutual agreement in 1997 and a selection of Narrow Gauge assets and the railway line came on the market. This event would give new direction to the Sandstone heritage program. These assets were put up for auction which Sandstone put in a bid for and being the successful bidder Sandstone was suddenly the owner of enough components to create a small Narrow Gauge railway. It was decided to lay some track and to bring one of the NGG16 Garratts back into steam.
A pivotal point in the heritage program's development was the decision by Sandstone to hold an innovative attempt at the World Record for the maximum number of vintage tractors (pre 1960) working in one field at one time. In order to make it more interesting for spectators a short section of railway line, which had been obtained on the Midmar auction, was built and the Garratt with a few coaches was cobbled together. The event was in fact the first attempt of its kind and it took place amidst great international fanfare. It was awarded with a Guinness Book of Records certificate. 99 tractors participated.
The rest is history and the record was recently broken in Ireland with over 5,000 tractors in one field at one time. South Africa can be truly proud of the fact that they were the innovators with a vintage agricultural event that galvanized interest in people around the world.
The formative little railway did not go unnoticed and the enthusiasm expressed for its very existence encouraged and motivated the management at Sandstone to continue to extend the line. Rail and sleeper stock soon ran out but fortunately the closure of the Majestic Highlands water scheme in Lesotho took place and large volumes of 2-ft Narrow Gauge rail and other materials became available again on auction and Sandstone purchased these.
Recognising that there was no one in particular in South Africa encouraging the purchase, transport and restoration of 2-ft Narrow Gauge assets of historical interest, Sandstone without necessarily having set out to achieve that objective, took on the challenge and the collection as it stands today was established.
In many ways the cards fell successfully into place because in the late 1990's the old steam running shed at Bloemfontein became available for rent and Sandstone decided to take up the offer to establish a steam locomotive rebuild facility there. Some of the original fitters, such as Lukas Nel who had worked there for many years, were enthusiastic about supporting the venture and joined Sandstone. More than 15 locomotives have been rebuilt, some of them where in a parlous state and the technical excellence of our locomotives on the farm are largely as a result of the professionalism and dedication of Lukas and his team in Bloemfontein.
So welcome to our web site. It contains in depth information for enthusiasts across a broad spectrum of Heritage activities. Although we set out collecting Agricultural machinery we did not close our doors to any collector who wanted a safe haven for his beloved old bus or engine or piece of earth moving machinery. While the 2-ft Narrow Gauge railway is at the centre of our activities because it plays quite an important role in the ongoing transportation of items on the farm it should not be allowed to over shadow many of the other fascinating items of interest. Military vehicles, Agricultural Traction engines, buses, cars, ox wagons with oxen attached are all there.
Finally, by way of clarification we are not a museum; we are simply a private collection of Heritage items on a commercial farm and the staff do their best to keep everything in tip-top condition and to show visitors around as appropriate.