Tag Archives: vintage steam train

Steam Train at the Elgin Railway Market in Grabouw (2018-12-16) Markets | Photo Gallery 25 SEP 2019

An excellent addition to the Grabouw/Elgin Valley tourism scene is without a doubt the fantastic Elgin Railway Market. Residing in an old apple packing warehouse right on the Elgin train station, this Art Deco/Art Noveau styled market is an absolute must visit come weekend time – especially on days when the steam train comes rolling in!

With a carefully curated list of stall vendors, the market has a little taste of something for everyone, with flavours from all over the world, including proper South African market fare, on offer. A few well made arts, crafts and designs are on show, and of course there is local craft brewed gin to be had. (Seriously, gin is everywhere at the moment).

And don’t forget to admire the fantastic metal and wood work that has gone into crafting the ornate Art Deco styling of the building itself!

Then there is the innovative Liberty Books bookstore parked outside, showing off the second addition to their book-bearing fleet, the Liberty Books Brigade – a 1970s Provincial Library Bus! (I’ve mentioned their Burning Books fire engine on these pages before.)

But of course, the star of the show for me is whenever the Ceres Rail Company comes steaming into the station with one of their classic locomotive and coaches combination. On this particular visit pictured below, it was Jessica, a Class 19D-3321 steam locomotive from the 1940’s that chugged into view bearing its load of market visitors!

So yes, trains were admired, food devoured, and photos taken:

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Steam Trains at the Elgin Railway Market in Grabouw (2018-08-11) Markets | Photo Gallery 15 JUL 2019

I have mentioned the wonderful Elgin Railway Market in these pages before, but a visit to this fantastic market with its breathtaking 1920s Art Deco inspired styling is even better if you manage to come through on a day that the brilliant Ceres Rail Company rolls one of its immaculately restored vintage steam locomotives into the station.

Like I previously said, the market on its own is a wonderful experience, well worth a visit if you do ever get the chance. Located in an old apple packing warehouse that has been transformed with the most gorgeous of steel, iron and wood finishes, the market features plenty of communal seating, an incredible atmosphere or vibe if you will, and some really interesting food and craft stalls, with their offerings stretching all the way from artisan gin through to couverture chocolate.

(There is technically a small play area outside for the kids, complete with climbing wall, as well, but seeing as I haven’t really had the girls running around that particular space yet, I can’t really comment all that much on it.)

As for the steam train element, watching one of these smoke billowing beasts pulling into the station is a crowd favourite, even more so when you realize that the train is actually ferrying people in from Cape Town to Elgin on what must be a thoroughly special trip. (So yes, one more thing to add to the never ending list of Cape Town adventures still to be had then I guess! :D)

On the day of this particular visit, it was beautifully restored Bailey, the 1930’s Class 19B No. 1412 steam locomotive, doing the charge to Elgin, with the equally stunning Dominique, the late 1940’s Class 19D No. 3332 steam locomotive, hitched to handle the reverse work.

Basically train heaven then.

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Vintage Steam Trains at the Outeniqua Transport Museum in George (2017-03-20) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 05 SEP 2018

If you are looking for the largest transport museum in South Africa, look no further than the Outeniqua Transport Museum in George, Transnet’s homage to the history of transport in South Africa, and indeed, the history of Transnet itself. It is also just so happens to be precisely where I dragged my eager (camera-toting) dad, hapless mom and poor old Jessica to back in March last year.

Housed in what is essentially a huge hangar, the museum is home to a wide variety of South African transport history, with exhibits acknowledging the work of South African Airways and the Transnet National Ports Authority, but most important of all, the rich railway history of the country.

There are about 20 vintage locomotives standing around the grounds, with highlights including the diminutive Emil Kessler, Johannesburg’s first steam locomotive, the Braamfontein to Boksburg Rand tram, coach number 50 of the White Train (used by the British Royal family during their visit to SA in 1947), and Paul Kruger’s distinctive bright green coach and private saloons.

In addition to the trains, there is a collection of transport related paintings and photos on display, as well quite a few exhibits showing off the silverware, cutlery and crockery from various periods of the transport industry. Then there are the vintage fire engines, old ambulances, reconstructed train stations and ticket offices, and a nicely varied collection of privately owned vintage and classic cars, also all housed under the singular massive roof of the museum.

Plus, in the event that you get a little bored/peckish while visiting, there is also a little coffee shop/restaurant on site, its gimmick of course being that you chow down whilst seated in a train carriage. (We sadly didn’t take advantage of this on the day.)

Another particularly nice find: Housed in the almost twenty year old Ken Wheeler Model Room is the Outeniqua Railway Society’s massive Outeniqua model train layout, reportedly the largest such model train layout in the Southern Hemisphere.

Loads of local landmarks are lovingly recreated and these little trains motoring about were by far the most interesting thing of the day as far a “ever so slightly bored by now” Jessica was concerned!

In truth, the museum can probably do with a bit of an update and upgrade, but that said, I found it and its contents thoroughly fascinating, with the museum making for an excellent outing if you are looking to escape the weather or outside bustle for what could be a good couple of hours (if you enjoy the subject matter).

I liked it.

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Side Note: The awesome Outeniqua Power Van excursion departs from the museum – another highly recommended George tourist outing if you find yourself in the area!

Related Link: Outeniqua Transport Museum | Wikipedia | George

Snoek Pizza at the Franschhoek Station Pub & Grill (2017-08-13) Food and Drink | Photo Gallery 26 APR 2018

Franschhoek is a fantastic town to visit, beautiful surroundings, incredible wine estates, brilliant restaurants, a grand monument – but in truth isn’t really all that geared for visiting families, given the general upmarket offerings of the area. That said, there is one restaurant that does actual cater for those needing a more casual experience – the Franschhoek Station Pub.

Situated in the historic, but now disused, town train station, the Franschhoek Station Pub & Craft Bar is one of those dining spots that gets a whole lot right when it comes to entertaining families (and men who want a place to watch sport). The menu is nice and cosy, the beer selection wide (and yes, this includes a lot of the local craft brews), the pub’s decorations interesting, and most important of all, they have a small kids play area behind the pub, right next to the big stretch tent that covers the outdoor eating area.

Oh, and they offer a biltong tasting too.

Our particular visit saw myself tucking into a particularly good hamburger and downing a surprisingly good Stellenbrau Craven Craft Lager, while Chantelle opted for something far less conventional – a snoek covered pizza! A weird combination for sure, but nevertheless a taste which wasn’t half bad in the end.

Chantelle and I had a good time, the kids had a good time, and so all in all a pretty easy spot to recommend to visitors looking for something a little more casual in among the rest of Franschhoek’s more sophisticated offerings.

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The station pub is on the main road and pretty much impossible to miss (the building is unique, the old steam engine stands out, and then there are the large tin buffalo, elephant and rhino statues to catch your eye), though here is a map for just in case you did somehow manage to ride on right past it!

Related Link: Franschhoek Station Pub & Grill | Franschhoek