One of Sandstone’s long time European supporters is Svatopluk Slechta, an engineer from the Czech Republic and a great rail enthusiast. He has visited Sandstone many times on his tours of South Africa, most recently at our Easter Steam Festival. We were pleased and honoured to be presented with a brass Skoda works plate by him. Today most people imagine that Skoda, founded in 1859 by Emil Skoda, just made cars but, in years gone by, they also built many steam locomotives including a batch of South African Railways (SAR) 19D class. To this day they are still in the rail transportation arena producing trams and propulsion units for trolleybuses, albeit now a separate company from the car manufacturing arm.
Svata, as he is known, is also currently writing a book on the history of Skoda steam locomotives and was looking for assistance in obtaining pictures of the fifteen Skoda built 19D locomotives. These were manufactured in 1938 and carried SAR numbers 2626 to 2640. Three examples survive today of which number 2633 is plinthed at Sandstone. This was sold by the SAR in the 1980s to become Sappi No. 2. It was donated to Sandstone in 2019.
Through our connections with railway photographers, both in South Africa and overseas, we were able to obtain a large number of photographs of Skoda 19Ds in service in South Africa. Sandstone’s thanks Svata, for his generosity and wishes him well with his new book.
Our gallery shows the presentation of the Skoda plate to Sandstone, L to R, Mike Myers and Dave Richardson from Sandstone and Svata Slechta.
Our second picture shows Skoda built 19D number 2633 plinthed at Sandstone.
Sandstone has two of these fascinating steam powered drilling machines. Both are with a restorer in the Western Cape where it is hoped to build one out of two. Click here to read the full story.
Torsten and Ilona Eggert from Germany arrived at Sandstone on Freedom Day, 27th April, with their Hanomag camper van that they restored themselves to travel the world. They started their journey in 2017.This year they arrived via ship at Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) and started their journey through northern Africa and SA and then back to Gqeberha to take a ship back to Germany. Torsten Eggert has a passion for Hanomag and Lanz Bulldog machinery, so our Visitor Coordinator, Mariette Palmer, took him to the tractor shed area and he was all over/underneath/on top of the Lanz machinery and couldn't believe that Sandstone has such a variety of items. He advised that his home in Germany is just 20km away from the original Lanz Bulldog factory that was later bought by John Deere. There they have a lot of show days where all friends come together and display their pride and joy machinery. He advised that the crawler in the Sandstone collection is a very rare item. At the conclusion of their visit they asked that we thank the owner for all the kindness and friendliness they experienced at Sandstone. Sandstone thanks Torsten and Ilona for their visit and wishes them a safe journey back to Germany.
You can follow their adventures on their web page eggert-koronczi.de It’s in German but can be translated and follows their travels around the world.
Keith Simmons has been a regular visitor to Sandstone for many years and assisted us with some of the technicalities of our web site when we moved service providers and webmaster some years ago. He has a passion for Stationary Engines and has brought his small Stirling Engine to many events at Sandstone including Stars of Sandstone 2019 and our recent Easter Steam Festival. The attached PDF from Keith describes the Stirling while the attached photo illustrates the size of the Stirling, Click here and enjoy the read!
As you will see from the attached file, Inaugural World Wickham Day, Friday 22 April 20022, recognises 100 years of Wickham rail vehicles. In South Africa, Sandstone Heritage Trust is the proud owner of 2ft gauge Wickham Trolley number 9234, built in 1962. This is an open Type 27 Mk111. This was originally supplied to Pretoria Portland Cement in Pretoria, South Africa in November 1962 and acquired by Sandstone some 20 years ago. It has been re engined with a Toyota diesel engine and gearbox. Sandstone also has four unidentified Type 27 Mk111 2 ft gauge of the closed type which were acquired from Sena Sugar in 2004.
Click here to read more
Staging events at Sandstone Estates in the Eastern Free State is becoming more difficult. This is due to the state of the roads which make the coach tour operators reluctant to visit us. People with ordinary cars have to also drive very carefully due to the serious potholes. However certainly as far as our South African market is concerned people are robust and if they want to come they certainly turn up. Friday and Saturday were well attended but Sunday with 100% rain for the day tended to keep the visitors away. As it was not school holidays at Easter this year, Monday was active in the morning but in the afternoon our visitors made their way home as it was school next day for the kids.
We carried over 1450 passengers on our trains over the four days and entertained our visitors with military displays and rides, Ox wagon rides, tractor demonstrations and vintage bus rides (despite seriously muddy roads at the farm!) We also showcased our Caterpillar collection and heavy vehicles in the display area while our Sentinel Steam Waggon and McLaren Traction Engine toured the complex. The Cosmos was in full bloom and we proudly flew the Ukrainian flag to support their struggle. Our photo gallery highlights the events of the weekend.
The problem with a smaller event is that we are limited in terms of the number of volunteers we have at our disposal and of course we are severely impacted by the escalating fuel costs. A locomotive, a traction engine or a large diesel powered machine is very expensive to operate these days and so we tend to operate on a less is more basis, less machines doing more work. We hope that this formula worked. The comments posted below from some of our visitors does bear testimony to this.
“Very well organised event people friendly , the food drinks set up all a world class event, people that hasn’t been here missing out big time !!”
“We had the most amazing time at Sandstone Estates today and I’m incredibly grateful to you for making it such an incredible occasion. Your team were exceptionally welcoming and made it clear that you’d asked them to look after us. Thanks so much. Best wishes, Mark”
“Baie dankie vir al jou moeite met ons groep gister. Dit word opreg waardeer Mariette! Baie mooi wense en tot ons weer sien met ñ volgende besoek.Groete Liesl 🌸🚌
Jou aanbieding was puik🌷 Cosmos Tours.”
Our next planned event would be the Cherry Festival in November where the rain is probably not a major threat but with global warming one doesn’t want to be too optimistic about it being guaranteed with the sunny days that we have more or less become accustomed to over the last twenty years. Feedback from our visitors and members of the public are always welcome. We are very influenced by what people think and we are lucky that our experienced staff are able to adjust very quickly to meet people’s needs on the ground and on the day. We would like to extend a particularly warm word of appreciation for our volunteers without whom we could not provide anything like the diversity of experiences that are possible even for a small event like the Easter Festival.
Keep an eye on our website for details of our next event!