Sandstone Heritage Trust - Rail News


RN 116 - The Cherry Festival Adventure! - Report by Gert Jubileus



Sandstone Steamed again this year for the well known annually held Cherry Festival. A total of eleven trains were
run threw the spectacular landscape of the Eastern Free State from the foot of the Maluti mountains on the border
of Lesotho to the top of Vailima through thousands of peach trees. A total distance of 30 km was travelled behind
the massive Narrow Gauge Garratt locomotive that had to cope with gradients of 1/22 at some places.

This very special week started with visitors who came with the well known Boon Safari trains. Ngg 16 number 153
was steamed for this day. The locomotive and coaches were ready at Vailima on 08h00 Wednesday morning and
awaited the Boon Safari train.

The Boon train arrived at Vailima Station 09h00 the morning and the passengers boarded our train. The ride away
was given and number 153 slowly brought the train to motion. We took the train to the top of Vailima Halt and
preceded over the new extended line that connects at Pandora Junction, an awesome landscape unfolds on this
new line as it proceeds to the Pandora Junction where the Railway line connects to the mainline to Hoekfontein.
This train ran threw Hoekfontein to Grootdraai near the border of Lesotho and back to Hoekfontein again.
After the train ride, the passengers were taken on a Farm tour and were taken to Ficksburg by bus.
Photo below:

A 34 Class diesel locomotive brought the Boon train from Bethlehem to Vailima.
The Cherry Trains

On Thursday and Friday we had three trains a day and on Saturday we had four trains. Ngg 16’s number 113
and 153 were steamed on these days. Because of the tight schedule of the trains, we decided to change the
locomotive after each trip. This gave the fireman time to clean the fire and fill the water for the next trip. This
saved a lot of valuable time with service stops.
The trains were fully booked with a hauling capacity of 130 passengers at a time.
The passengers were brought to the farm by use of taxis and some times by the use of big busses. On arrival
the passengers were met by Babita Nathoo, who works for Sandstone at Sandstone’s Head office in Johannesburg.
This very friendly girl helped all the passengers to fill in the indemnity forms before they boarded the train.

The passengers could visit the Waenhuis to buy refreshments before and after each train trip. Gillian Gallett,
also from the Sandstone Head office, manned this shop. Coffee and tee was served and chips, sweets and cold
drinks could be bought.

Here below is friendly Gillian behind the counter in the Waenhuis.

Most passengers enjoyed a coffee break, while the rest walked around looking at all the old vehicles that were
parked outside on display.

All kinds of souvenirs like T-shirts, Train videos, DVD’s and post cards and many more could be bought in Cathy’s
shop near the old Waenhuis. This shop was run by Joanna Molyneux – Killik, also from the Sandstone Head Office in Johannesburg.

Here below is our friendly Joanna inside Cathy’s shop in Hoekfontein Station.

Nikki Garnett, organised this special event and insured that everything went smoothly. She helped all the passengers to board the train and made sure that they were on time for their busses again.
Here to the right is Nikki, also from the Sandstone Head Office in Johannesburg:



The whistle sounded and slowly the train came to motion steaming lightly out of Hoekfontein Station on the easier
gradients to Grootdraai near the Lesotho border. While pulling out of Grootdraai, I could feel the difference in the
weight of a fully loaded train. The train ran through Hoekfontein Station without stopping, all the way to Pandora
crossing storming up the Pandora bank. At Pandora Junction the points was set to go anti-clockwise to Vailima Halt.

Even to me a new world on Sandstone unfolds while travelling slowly through all the peach trees on the hangs
of the Mountain at Vailima Halt. If the passengers reached out, they could pick the sweetest peaches while the
train proceeds slowly through the peach orchards around the sharp s-curves. This was “rest-time” for the train
crew because it is downhill all the way to Vailima Station. All the kids living on Vailima near the farm school ran
all the way at the side of the slow moving train. This was the best days of my life and I again realized how
perfect the Railway line was planned.

An adventure to all of us. One of the passengers comment the following: “We came all the way to the Cherry
Festival, but Sandstone Estates is the Cherry on the Cake.”
Because of the non stop running of the train, it was not needed to take any water at Vailima and we could return
to Hoekfontein without any water stop. After the train arrived back at Hoekfontein, the passengers again had time
to buy refreshments before they were taken on a Farm tour by Chris Wilson on his favourite Tractor.
Above and right are photos of Chris on his way with passengers on the Farm tour.
Chris took them on a tour through the Vintage shed first.
And then they all took a tour through the Steam Workshop at Hoekfontein where passengers could see the exquisite
collection of locomotives.
After the tour, the passengers were taken back to Hoekfontein Station where it was time to say goodbye to a
great adventure. Many thanks to all the friendly passengers. You really made our day!
All these girls who worked very hard to make this event a huge success. You really made a great team and are
a proof that Sandstone employs the best in the world.

From left to right is : Joanna Molyneux-Killik, Nikki Garnett, Babita Nathoo and Gillian Gallett.
Special thanks to Hester Papenfus and Terry Reilly who also helped us make this a great success.
Here is a 15 F number 3026 storming up the Harmony bank near Virginia, with driver Hannes Coetzee and Fireman
myself . This photo was taken by Steve Harding August 1990 only a few months before they withdraw Steam from
the Virginia depot. On this very day we overloaded this 15 F with 900 tons on the Virginia – Glen Harmony line. Even
the 34 Class diesel locomotives could not cope with this load. Nothing can be compared with Steam power. These
were the days when the Railways used to be Railway.

1.) To convert B wagons to FZ’s
2.) To spray paint 19D cab
3.) To service 19D spares for Bloemfontein
4.) To go on with the Douglas locomotive
5.) To restore water tank from Eastern Cape
6.) To paint service put
7.) To do repairs on locomotives 153 and Kalahari
8.) To fit mechanical lubricator to Decauville locomotive
9.) To wash out Little Bess and the Decauville
10.) To pull 45 lb rail out of Pandora
11.) To paint Railway sign boards
12.) To finish the third flat wagon
13.) To pack Freight loads on wagons
14.) To do weed spraying over the entire Railway line.