Railway Heritage

A new shed for the Bloemfontein locomotives.

Bloem locos shed Sandstone July 22
Three locomotives, originally from Sandstone’s Bloemfontein facility, are now under cover. From left to right, 11 Class 929, 19D 2654 and 24 Class 3688.

All the locomotives and rolling stock moved from Bloemfontein and Germiston are now in a covered facility at Sandstone.

The story of one plate.

The story of one plate

We recently featured, on the 19th May, the presentation of a large Skoda works plate by Svatopluk (Sváťa) Šlechta  from The Czech Republic. Sváťa has now sent us the full history of the plate and pictures of the two locomotives that carried the plate during their service in the former Czechoslovakia. Click here to read the story.

World Wickham Day.

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.

Wickham

Click here to read more

A photo gallery of the Easter Steam Festival at Sandstone, 15 to 18 April 2022 by Leon Hugo.

Leon Hugo is a professional photographer from Gqeberha in South Africa and sent us a photo essay from our Easter event. As you will see from the gallery Leon braved all the conditions that the weather could throw at us to capture some magnificent images. Enjoy the show! You can contact Leon on,  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Steam Fun at Easter despite the weather!

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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. 

Sandstone’s Locomotive Moves.

The recent moves of our 3’6” gauge locomotives from the Transnet properties at Germiston and Bloemfontein made worldwide headlines with the clever logistics used by the contractors, Mercor Transport and P.Munro Transport. The clever usage of large lowbed trailers as loading ramps for the multi axle trailers used for some of the locomotives enabled us to load the two GMA/M Beyer Garratt locomotives, numbers 4079 and 4114, without using a very expensive crane and splitting them into their three units (font engine unit, boiler unit and rear engine unit) as was done in the past. This also saved a massive amount of work to reassemble the locos on their arrival at Sandstone.

To celebrate the moves, Sandstone commissioned Ron and Val Nell of Frameline Productions to produce a video programme of the logistics and activities required for moving these giants and the other locomotives. Some of the loads were amongst the heaviest road movements ever undertaken in South Africa. You can access the production on You Tube on the following link.

https://youtu.be/cUJrVrn3U90  

As a bonus to this video we also include a link to a short production on our November 2021 Cherry Festival event produced by Steven Mitchell. 

The link is Sandstone Cherry Festival 2021 - YouTube

Getting Ready for Easter!

Gert Jubileus, the Sandstone Railway Manager, has been hard at work with his track gang preparing the railway for the Easter event. A major task was the replacement of the sleepers on the points at the exit of Hoekfontein Station towards Grootdraai. Our gallery shows the new points in position and the Funkey diesel in action as the track gang spreads the ballast which has been delivered in our vintage rake of cocopans.

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Easter Steam for 2022

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Sandstone’s latest restored locomotive, NGG16A number 155 will be hauling Easter trains. Picture by James Attwell.


Our first event for 2022 will be our Easter Steam Festival from Friday 15th April until Monday 18th April. The full Sandstone Heritage collection will be on display together with rides on military vehicles and on a vintage Ox wagon hauled by our team of Oxen. Food and refreshments will be on sale. Steam Trains will run daily at 10h00, 12h00, 14h00 and 16h00.

Self-catering accommodation will be available in our Railway and Victorian Cottages as well as our fully equipped camp site. The entrance fee is R250 for adults and  R140 for children under 12. Please note that this fee does apply to visitors accommodated on site on a daily basis. Covid protocols as applied at the time of the event must be adhered to.

For bookings and enquiries contact Mariette Palmer on 064 752 3852.
Click here to read more

Completing the Task!

As part of the moves of our 3’6” gauge locomotives and rolling stock to Sandstone, we committed to placing all the assets under cover. This has now been completed as our pictures show with the two GMAM locomotives, 4114 and 4079, 25NC 3488 and 15F 3052 now safely under cover.

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Easter Preparations

As part of our preparations for our Easter event, the track gang has been hard at work preparing our railway for a busy show. Persistent inclement weather has made quite a mess of various area of track which are being methodically cleaned and checked to bring up to our working standard. Sadly the rain continues and has slowed down our efforts but we will be ready for the expected large number of visitors over the Easter weekend. Our pictures show the extent of the work required and the results being achieved. See you all at Easter!

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The NG10’s first run at Stars of Sandstone 2019


Mark Ruddy is a regular visiting driver to Sandstone and at the Stars of Sandstone event, in 2019, he was rostered for the first run of the newly restored NG10, number 61. Here is his story and, as you will read, it did not go exactly to plan! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9fWQeZx44g

NGG16A number 155 before its modifications.

English enthusiast, David Bott, visited South Africa in 1977 and captured this picture of number 155 at Izingolweni on the 1st April 1997. David also sent us a short story to accompany the picture.

Here is the picture of 155 hauling a train from Harding to Port Shepstone,

taken near Izingolweni on 1st April 1977. I remember that day very well indeed; we waited in the pub

at Harding until the shed master arrived for his lunch, then bunked the shed!  Such happy days in

your beautiful country - 6 visits in all,  travelling mostly by camper mobile. I was last there in 1999 & 2000

for the festivals of steam at George. It's so sad that the Knysna line has not been repaired; I'm now 75,

and my best days are now on film. I wish you well with your ongoing restorations, for the enjoyment of the next generation.

Thank you David for the picture and the kind wishes! Number 155 will be one of the featured locos at the upcoming Easter Steam event at Sandstone.

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Sandstone Steam Railway mountain section to be lifted.

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Sadly we must announce that Sandstone’s world famous mountain section from Vailima to Vailima Siding and back to Pandora Junction is being lifted for safety and security reasons.
Click here to read the full story.

Bloemfontein to Bethlehem. A celebration of steam.

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15E 2878 between Modderpoort & Kilmarnock 1996 Picture by Dennis Moore

The scenic railway line from Bloemfontein in the west, to Bethlehem in the east, has long been considered as one of the most spectacular railway lines for steam photography in South Africa and indeed, in the world. Steam haulage on the line ended in 1987 and since then the line has declined into a shadow of its former self with no through trains and limited traffic at each end. The busiest section these days is probably the line to Lesotho from Bloemfontein via Marseilles.

The last arrival at Sandstone!

Sandstone Train Arrival

The last item of 3’6” gauge rolling stock, which had been stored at the old Germiston Steam Depot, the ex SAR Cowans and Sheldon 80 ton steam crane number 578, has finally arrived at Sandstone after weather delays at the Depot and a change required of the multi axle trailer to transport this 125 ton piece of South African railway history. Safely now at Sandstone, it will join the display of locomotives and other rolling stock recently moved from Bloemfontein and Germiston.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41TTVm1iXTE