The first Saturday of every month, from 13:00 to 16:00, shrill whistles, puffs of steam and the occasional whiff of diesel fill the air from a small field in Parow, right next to the soccer fields of Vasco and Ajax Football Clubs. If you turn sharply and follow the unassuming little road, you will end up in front of a small little club house emblazoned with the words “Western Province Live Steamers”. Welcome to their running day.
Founded in 1980 by the late Jack Love, a school teacher with a love of building and running miniature steam locomotives, the first 13 years of the Western Province Live Steam Society’s existence were lived out on a piece of the famous Cape Show Grounds in Goodwood (better known as the Goodwood Showgrounds, now of course the site of the GrandWest casino complex).
However, with the subsequent sale of that particular property in 1993, the club found itself undertaking a long hunt for a new home, eventually finding their current space with the help of the Parow Municipality at the end of 1997.
A small, but passionate group, the Live Steamers built their own club house, laid the track of their main loop, and then slowly began the process of (successfully) building out their little rail empire.
As with most hobbies, constructing and running these little trains are the most rewarding when you can share you passion with other people, and as such, every first Saturday of the month the club’s gates are thrown open and the general public are invited (free of charge) to come along to watch and ride the trains with the model builders, to take advantage of the fresh air and green open space, and perhaps even throw a few pieces of meat on some coals.
Naturally this is something that I just HAD to show the girls, and given that it’s reasonably close to where my brother and folks are based (Bellville), I got Ryan and Dad to tag along on what turned out to be a particularly pleasant way to spend Spring Day.