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Part 12 - Worcester-Mossel Bay and the NCCR © C P Lewis

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There can't be many railways characterised by a scent.  For this writer and his late father at least, this was the NCCR.  Leaving aside the bridge for now (we'll tell you more about it later), dwell for a moment on the scent - or 'the NCCR smell' as my Dad used to call it.  Almost as if switched on by the local tourist office when trains left Worcester for the east, wafting through the windows would come this wonderful concoction of coal smoke, fynbos and buchu, the latter apparently a particular variety only found along the base of the Langeberg. It would be with you all the 205 miles to Mossel Bay, and beyond. 

Away back in 1883 scents were not in farmer's minds when they convinced London-based entrepreneurs to set up the Cape Central Railway Company to build a railway down the Breede valley from Worcester to Roodewal with the primary objective of bringing fresh produce to the Cape Town markets.  These influential gentlemen were able to negotiate a subsidy from the Colonial government of £50,000, payable when the line reached Robertson and a further £25,000 when it was opened to Roodewal (now Ashton).  Under the supervision of their agent on site, Mr John Walker, public trains began running to Robertson in January 1887 and Ashton, 42 miles from Worcester, in October.  However, in the nature of such ventures at the time it wasn't long before the CCR succumbed to ox-wagon competition.  Within two years of commencing operations the CCR was declared bankrupt, Mr Walker was removed and a liquidator, Sir Thomas Scanlon, appointed.  This worthy kept things going for another three-and-a-half years until in August 1892 agreement was reached for the sale of the company to the trustees of an intended new company.  The New Cape Central Railway Limited was registered in England in February 1893 whereupon all Cape Central Railway property was transferred to it (1). 

Altogether more ambitious, the goal of the NCCR was to extend the line all the way to Mossel Bay.  In addition to his maps, Bruno Martin has kindly provided some details of its progress:  

"A Bill was brought before Parliament for the extension from Ashton to Swellendam, 41 miles, with a Government subsidy of £1,500/mile and a contract let to Messrs Pauling and Co for £278,950 exclusive of land, fencing and rolling stock.  The line was opened to Swellendam on 18 March 1899, by which time the NCCR had already applied for another extension of the line to Riversdale, but on this occasion requested a subsidy of £2,000/mile.  The Pauling brothers again won the contract in July 1899 but completion was delayed due to the Boer War and the extension was not opened until 19 February 1903.  It would appear that the line was built as economically as possible: 46½ lb rail was used and the alignment closely followed the contours of the land.  Consequently there were 94 short stretches of 1-in-40 uncompensated combined with numerous 5-chain reverse curves."
"A further extension was applied for by the company which brought the line to Fore Bay (Voorbaai) on 22 January 1906.  On this stretch lay a formidable obstacle in the form of the Gouritz River gorge.  Fortunately for the railway company there was already a road bridge in place and this was adapted to carry the rails across subject to certain load restrictions.  The NCCR paid an annual fee of £2,000 for the use of the bridge.  (The present railway bridge was built after the government had purchased the railway.  Its opening in 1931 marked the beginning of a range of improvements to bring the 205 miles of track to main-line standards which included laying 80 lb rail.)"
"The final event in the development of the NCCR took place in September 1907 when the Cape Government handed over the operation of the Mossel Bay to George section to the NCCR until the completion of the George-Oudtshoorn line.  This had come about because of the failure of the Grand Junction Railway [which had been intended to run from Klipplaat to Mossel Bay] where the Cape government was compelled to take over the completion of the George to Oudtshoorn line."

"Negotiations for the purchase of the NCCR by the SAR began in 1923 and were concluded two years later when the company was bought out for £1,100,000 and became a part of the SAR as from 1 August 1925 under Union Act 37 of 1925. (Information sourced from D M Rhind "A Chronicle of the Cape Central Railway"; Roger Fairfax "The Story of the Cape Central Railways", published in Railways Southern Africa - February 1978, pp 23-27, SAR Annual Report of 1931 'Acquisition of the late New Cape Central Railway, p 42.)"

Even though it was eventually and probably inevitably absorbed by the SAR, the NCCR was undeniably a successful company.  In no small measure this can be ascribed to its hard-working and enthusiastic General Manager appointed in October 1901, Fred Dawson, previously General Manager of the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway, a narrow (3ft) - gauge concern in the North of Ireland.   

This was the first public timetable between Mossel Bay and Cape Town.  It was followed closely thereafter by one that included the NCCR-operated section to George which will be included in the System 3 chapters dealing with the Garden Route. 

Soon after the opening of Montagu Pass in 1913 through services between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town were introduced and NCCR operation of the section from Mossel Bay to George was taken over by SAR.  For the sake of completeness we will chart the progress of the whole of the NCCR in this chapter even though only the section as far as Riversdale belongs under System 1 (see Bruno's map and please note that the original NCCR station names are given in brackets).  

1. In this c 1928 photo, one of Frank Holland's most evocative, class 15A No 1855 is towing a perfect rake of Hendrie balcony day/sleepers, single diner and baggage/staff/guards van up the 1-in-80 between Klapmuts and Muldersvlei.  The NCCR was gone, and Fred Dawson had been almost three years retired but this legacy of his initiative, the "Boat Express" introduced in 1916 to connect Port Elizabeth with the weekly sailings of Union Castle line's mailships to and from Cape Town, continued to run.  It should be mentioned that completion of the Charl Malan quay in 1934 allowed mailships to dock at Port Elizabeth so from then on boat trains were unnecessary, but in true SAR style No's 51-down and 52-up were kept running until 1971.

In the working time books (WTBs), 51-down and 52-up were listed as "fast passenger" but in truth, with an overall speed of 23 mph they were neither fast nor express.   

2.  Nine-down, the Port Elizabeth mail, passing Paarden Eiland in September 1953.  The engine was a youthful 15F 3080 and the fireman was my friend and neighbour, Nikolaas Brand, who had a fear of being booked out on a "Bongol", or class 15E, of which Paarden Eiland had an allocation of 5 at the time.  The latter's 63 sq ft grates were hand fired which was challenging on down trains which were faced with an aggregate climb >4,000 ft on the Touws River run.  
The daily mails over the NCCR were 9-down and 8-up which at this time were still steam hauled the whole way. They were the last long-distance steam passenger turns in and out of Cape Town, continuing until 1957 - four years after electrification (in Part 3 of System 1 is an account of my last trip into Cape Town with regular steam on 888-up in July 1956).   

3.  A venerable portrait of Worcester, starting point of the Cape Central Railway, c 1890 by T D Ravenscroft - see next photo.  

4. Twenty years after photo 2 and 80 years after photo 3, nine-down, the Port Elizabeth mail, has just changed from electricity to steam at Worcester and is about to depart on the overnight run down the NCCR to Mossel Bay (the GMA will be changed for a GEA at Riversdale).  This image appears in Jean Dulez's monumental "Railways of Southern Africa 150 Years" the history of the SAR between hard covers, out of print now but soon to re-appear - we will keep you informed.  We are indebted to Robert for his permission to reproduce this fine night shot here.

Electric trains were the last thing on the minds of the station staff as they posed for Mr Ravenscroft in photo 3.  What is remarkable is that although so much has changed (e.g. the wires, the raised platforms, the large Garratt and the Victorian uniforms and dress), a few things are still the same; for instance the main station building and office, the position of the goods-shed and its dead-end road.  

5. Frank Holland's superb portrait of 7F 1358 ex-works at Salt River, not long after SAR had taken them over and re-classified them. Somehow handsomer than NCCR's first series class 7s which were simply Michael Stephen's CGR 7th with a different owner, NCCR engines 9 to 11 (SAR No's 1357 to 1359) were dimensionally identical yet much handsomer - due to whose input is not known.  This was the first NCCR class I ever saw, at Winkelplaas on the Ladismith branch during a family holiday in 1945. 

6. Class GK No 2340 at Paarden Eiland in April 1932. In the early twenties Garratts became the rage on any railway with British connections.  In 1923 the NCCR too succumbed to Garratt fever, and bought two, about half-way between SAR classes GC and GD in size.  That they were successful is borne out by their 30-year SAR careers after the take-over in 1925.  On the NCCR they must have been invaluable, being able to replace two class 7s on a train.  It is not known whether they were allowed over the Gouritz River bridge but it seems possible that engineers responsible for the bridge - assuming it was the Public Works Department - might have relaxed their rule: a class 7F weighed just over 84 tons, as against 94 tons for a GK.  

7. From earliest memory my father did an annual tour of Cape Western sheds, this one on 31 May 1952, by which time Worcester's 7th-class allocation had been reduced to one, used for shunting the goods shed sidings.  On shed that Saturday were a class 3R (first one on the left), six cl 14CRBs, two cl 14CRMs in for attention off banking duties at De Doorns and a solitary GEA on the drop-pit road, this out of an allocation of six at the time.  Apologies for a very pokey box-camera shot.  

8. Unfortunately the rainbow did not herald good fortune for Worcester shed, which only had a few more years to go in 1975.  A few scenes follow from the closing years, all taken during 1975/8 - this one showing a recently transferred 15F for 170/171, the daily pick-ups between De Doorns and Bellville (thereby replacing the 15BRs which had been doing this work since arriving at the Cape in 1957) and a class 24 just in off the Ceres branch.  

9. Not much had changed a year later: line-up of classes GMA, 14CRB and 15F.

10. Closer to the end, in July 1978 this GMA was coming on shed off a Riversdale working while No 1898 cl 14CRB was getting ready to rush the coalstage.  

11. And here is 1898 pawing the rails like a raging bull, charging the ramp to the coal bunkers.   

12. A couple of GMAs ready for their next jobs while still charging No 1898 is about to shove the coal right off the end of the ramp.

13.  When the Sea Point line was abandoned in 1929, the East Pier service went with it (more about these in a forthcoming chapter).  The latter's attractive carriages went to the Milnerton line until it too closed in the mid-fifties then, as you can see, saw out their lives on the Worcester to Wolseley, Ashton and De Doorns locals.  

14. From here on we'll show you scenes along this fabulous railway.  The 14CRBs of the Steam Safari of October 1980 were slogging away from the Nuy River late on a Spring afternoon.  On either side of the line are two of the primary reasons for building the NCCR: grape vines and fruit trees - the latter still in blossom.   

15. A reminder that when steam went the good times came to an end.  Or did they?  There is a singular beauty in Joyce's photograph which a dowdy Garratt would have struggled to improve on.  But one can't help wondering if these gaudy class 35s westbound out of Nuy really replaced four GMAs?    

At this point, the break in the mountains marks the start of the Langeberg, which accompanies the NCCR all the way to Mossel Bay.  In the middle is Waaikloof, by which the Nuy River drains the western Koo and on the left is the shoulder of 6,800ft-tall Keeromsberg, the right-hand sentinel of the Hex River valley.  

16. We're off!  Rushing at the Mowers bank as fast as those little drivers can go.  Just look at all those lucky passengers, windows wide open, taking in the purposeful beat of 14CRB 1881 on 561-down departing eastbound from Nuy. July 1978.  

17.  I can hear some of you complaining "not again" upon seeing this one of my father doing his best to hide those nice siding signals which came into general use at unmanned interloops soon after WW2.  These were at Mowers siding, at 1226ft the highest point between Worcester and Mossel Bay.  

On each of numerous trips on 9-down, Dad would spend much of the journey on the balcony closest to the engine - until 1957 all the way from Cape Town, after that only from Worcester. It was a good thrash from Worcester to the summit at Mowers, reached just after 9pm, when he would repair to the dining saloon for a coupla beers during the downhill stretch to Ashton.  During the service stop the clang of the tender lid would again be his cue to visit the balcony for the assault on the Skilpadhoogte.  The Hendrie balcony saloons were by far his favourites and he would spend his journeys on them day and night.  Meals in the dining saloon would as far as possible be taken only during a prolonged downhill stretch. Now and again he would come back to the compartment looking like a Welsh miner coming off shift, to the despair of my mother.  But the look on his face could not be gainsaid and after a brief clean-up he would always head back to his post, winter or summer, to enjoy the thrash and drink in the NCCR smell.

This routine that brought my father so much pleasure was eventually thwarted by the balcony-less Union Carriage "tin and plastic" stock from the 1960s, which he despised.  It also raises the question as to how a non-stop flight from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth can seem to drag on longer than a train journey of two nights and a day? 

18. Back to dowdy Garratts. Towards the end of steam, 4135 cl GMA was bringing 560-up the 03:10 SO Riversdale-Worcester mixed up to Mowers.  An interesting observation is that in spite of the relatively low summit the aggregate climb westbound from Mossel Bay is more than 4,000ft.  This is a consequence of paralleling the Langeberg the whole way which makes the railway a roller-coaster succession of switchbacks in and out of valleys that drain the mountain range.  

19. In July 1960 my ole mate Vernon was en route to a camping holiday in Cogmans Kloof (between Ashton and Montagu) when he spotted this train coming along.  He decided to snap it but in the panic to stop the car and get out, his camera-strap snagged the window winder. This is the result.  
The 14CRB is on 562-up 06:15 SO Ashton-Worcester, a worker's shuttle with 5 imperial-brown coaches, all different!  The first is a standard SAR post-Hendrie vestibule saloon, the second is an ex-CSAR balcony coach, the third a CGR day/sleeper, the fourth an SAR steam suburban carriage and the van is ex NGR.  These worker's trains ran up and down the length of the NCCR right into the 1980s, many unadvertised, usually a single coach attached to the twice-daily tranship and perishable (T&P) workings.  

20. Steam along the NCCR is not quite finished.  Class 35-404 on an up goods overtaking the "Gospel Express" at Vinkrivier.  The Rev Lionel Kuiper rescued 15CA No 2828 from Dal Josafat where it was rapidly deteriorating along with some C33/34 and E16 carriages and stored them alongside the main line making possible the only photo you'll see of steam and diesel in juxtaposition in this chapter. For a record of events leading to this photo please see the Vinkrivier Siding webpage.  While there you might as well dally in blogmeister Piet Conradie's wonderful site, a veritable mine of information.  

21. I shall leave you, the reader, to decide whether the effort that went into getting this photo made as late as July 1978, was worth it (+ several more further on).  But first....... read Dave's account of how it came about:

"In June/July 1978 a group of us decided to make another tour of South Africa. 

A month or so before departure I wrote (in the days before e-mail or fax) to SAR requesting that they consider rostering a Class 14CRB 4-8-2 on the 13.15 Worcester - Riversdale Saturdays Only passenger train, normally a Class GMAM Garratt at this time and for good measure to also operate the Johannesburg - Mossel Bay express from Rosmead to Graaff Reinet over the Lootsberg Pass with a double-headed pair of Class 19D 4-8-2s, again at the time, another GMAM Garratt turn. 

Needless to say I was not surprised to get no response from SAR to my request!

The tour was beset with car problems which required some 'down time' whilst parts were delivered.  It was during a couple of days of being forced to stay in the rail-less remote village of Uniondale in the Little Karoo and in the absence of anything else to do I decided to phone home to check all was OK.  Julie duly advised that a response had been received from SAR and that I was to contact Operating (one was the Cape Western system and the other the Cape Midland system) to agree details for both special arrangements! 

The following day we travelled to the Oudtshoorn - Klipplaat line to Barandas station, which at this time was still staffed, and I was able to use the railway phone.  It was agreed with Operating that the 13.15 Worcester - Riversdale would indeed be hauled by a Class 14CRB in three days time on the following Saturday!

It should be stated at the outset that none of us had ever visited the Riversdale line in the Western Cape (although I had travelled by train through the night) and worse, as it was never to have been in our itinerary, we had no maps - not even the most basic of road maps.  The request had been made because Worcester shed still used the 14CRBs for shunting although the steam-era in the Western Cape was rapidly coming to an end.  In earlier years the 13.15 had been a fairly regular 14CRB turn to get a locomotive to Riversdale for a week's shunting but by the time of our visit the train was invariably a Garratt.

After overnighting in Swellendam and, with a free morning, we decided to photograph some of the regular traffic on the route.  There was reputedly a 03.00 Mixed train from Riversdale to Worcester but with no maps and no staffed stations it was a struggle to find the line and then having the courage to wait for a possibly non-existent train in the middle of nowhere.  Eventually a distant rumble could be heard on a perfectly still morning and some minutes later GMAM Garratt No. 4135 came into view.  Expecting the usual single suburban coach tacked onto the rear of a freight we were somewhat surprised to see a substantial train of 6 loaded bogie freight wagons and 5 modern steel bogie passenger coaches.  We did our best to chase this throughout to Worcester but en-route were distracted when sister Class GMAM No. 4125 was seen climbing Bonnievale Bank [Skilpadhoogte] on an eastbound goods. [see also photos 15, 26, 32, 39 and 47]

On arrival at Worcester we immediately drove to the steam shed to find if there was indeed a 14CRB booked on the 13.15 train, and there the biggest surprise awaited us.  Class 14CRB No. 1881 had not only been cleaned for us but had been completely repainted and looked really superb!  Another 14CRB (No. 1898) was also present and was being used as the coal stage pilot.  Apart from three Class 24 2-8-4s all other locos on shed were Class GMAM Garratts.

The driver of No. 1881 seemed friendly but the fireman was less than happy having booked on duty expecting a normal stoker-fired Garratt and who now was faced with shoveling around 10 tons of coal on a 10-hour shift with a 8-coach (340 ton) train on a severely graded route (maximum of 1 in 40)!  [Dave has overstated the load (it would have been about 300 tons), and understated the gradients: the 1-in-40 stretches are uncompensated for curvature.  This is equivalent to 1-in-33 on a 5-chain curve]

Unfortunately the best scenery was east of Ashton and not knowing the line nor having any maps meant that it was hard work getting good photographs of this train but at least we did our best with what was probably one of the final mainline workings for this class.Our last photo was the train arriving at Jubilee at around 17.30 with the sun having been set for some time but fortunately there was sufficient reflected light and colour in the sky to make a reasonable picture.

If only we had been able to drive to a nearby hotel but we had an 'appointment' early next morning to photograph the East London - Cape Town mail departing Schoombee soon after 07.00....meaning that from Jubilee we had to drive for no less than 440 miles through the night.  After a fuel-scare in Graaff Reinet (at the time fuel was not available (except for emergency services and tourists) at weekends following sanctions again the Apartheid Government) we finally arrived at our hotel in Middelburg at 02.15 on Sunday....and left again at 06.15 having seen no-one and taken the keys from the desk.

Sunday 2nd July saw considerable Class 15AR activity on the Rosmead - Stormberg line before the second 'arrangement' when the Johannesburg - Mossel Bay express was specially rostered for 2 x 19Ds instead of a Garratt....but that is another story."

22. A few years earlier the Saturday Worcester-Riversdale was still hauled by 15BRs. This was No 1982 on 561-down working the short rise between Vinkrivier and Robertson in April 1974.

23. In spite of having no maps or timetables the Keystone Cops seemed to do alright.  We'll see plenty more of this train, No 560-up with engine No 4135, in the ensuing photographs.  

24. The same train as in photo 22 leaving Robertson, headquarters of the NCCR.  Please note, in this series of Dave's photos of 560-up we are swimming upstream as the train was westbound and we are moving eastwards.  

25. Robertson, headquarters of the NCCR, an hour-and-a-half out of Worcester on the Saturday Riversdale.  The same train and same engine on the same day as photo 21.   

26. In its wandering down the Breede River valley the NCCR traverses some of the richest agricultural regions of South Africa, with wheat, grapes, fruit and wine (which are, of course, labour intensive) being the main produce.  This meant that the NCCR locals in general and the Saturday ones in particular were well patronised.  This was 14CRB 1999 on 561-down with a good payload at Robertson in July 1975.  Nowadays farmworkers do their Saturday shopping by taxi.  

27. An overall view of Robertson station, with 14CRB 1881 on 561-down being topped up on Dave's 1978 trip as recounted above.  After the absorption of the NCCR in 1925 things changed slowly until, with completion of relaying with 60lb rail and the new Gouritz River bridge in 1931, the 14Cs moved in.  These indestructible engines, and their reboilered versions, would have a long association with the line - almost 50 years in fact.  The original NCCR station building still exists today, as do the repair shop buildings in the background.  

28. A locomotive, perhaps the most famous in South Africa, that truly doesn't belong in this chapter but I couldn't resist this one of class 26 No 3450 pounding along between Robertson and Klaasvoogdsrivier on an Ian Pretorius THF railtour in 1993.  John tells me that the train turned around at Ashton.    

29. Klaasvoogdsrivier, first stop out of Robertson for 561-down with No 1987 class 15BR, April 1972.  At this rate the pigeons will get there ahead of the passengers.  

30. No's 561-down and 560-up depicted here leaving Ashton, were ever classified as mixed, although in winter SAR sometimes took pity on the passengers and left the goods wagons behind in order to connect the heating.  This clearly wasn't the case when Dave was following 560-up in July 1978.

31. Attired in regulation SAR uniform a hostler rakes the ashpan of 14CRB 1997 while another trims the coal in preparation for the the Skilpadhoogte, which starts immediately out of Ashton.  Plenty of precious kilojoules are going to waste in the ashpit.  Unsurprisingly, towards the end of steam there were heaps of accumulated ash at every service stop, something that the civil engineers found handy when dealing with washaways - there never was a better material for repairing water-damaged embankments. July 1975.  

32. "Drywer kan maar ry!" (=Driver you can go!).   

33. No 1881 gets stuck into the 1-in-40 out of Ashton.  When the surveyors located the line eastwards from Ashton to Bonnievale they chose to take a short cut over the 400ft high Skilpadhoogte (=tortoise heights - a reference to the preponderance of these creatures around here rather than the speed of the trains). The alternative, at a time when steel for rails was very expensive, would have been a water-level route following an enormous meander of the Breede River. It should be mentioned that from the Bonnievale side the climb was 700ft.

Another option would have been a tunnel but in those days tunnels were shunned as even more expensive than a wide detour or a steep bank.  

34. Well into the grade with 4125 class GMA on 553-down T&P which ran as a mixed as far as Ashton - in other words, it featured in the public timetables to there.  Although its solitary tri-compo van remained attached after Ashton, from there on 553-down no longer provided an advertised service and therefore could run more or less as it pleased.      

35. Less than a mile from the summit, the eastbound 561-down with 15BR 1983 in charge on Skilpadhoogte in September 1971.   

36. The Eugene Armer Steam Safari of October 1980 on Skilpadhoogte.  From Bonnievale the climb was almost double that from Ashton, and more interesting in terms of railway location (see extract from the 1:50,000 topo map below).  The train had just navigated the horseshoe below the summit.  

Extract from RSA topo map 3320CC showing the NCCR alignment between Ashton and Bonnievale.   

37. A master photo of the Skilpadhoogte horseshoe being negotiated by 4125 cl GMA on 560-up in July 1976. 

38. This was a couple of years later, with 4135 entering the horseshoe from the Bonnievale side with 560-up.   

39. The same Steam Safari as in photo 35 about to enter the horseshoe.  Thanks to Pete Rogers for providing the engine numbers: they are 14CRB 1995 ("Choekoe") leading and 2006 - two of SAR's most dependable mountain machines, no gradient seemed to intimidate them.  They were built by Montreal Locomotive Works as class 14Cs between 1918 and 1922, and reboilered with Watson standard boilers during the late 1930s and early 1940s.  While the Hendrie classes 14 to 14B were intended for the identical work, and were equally dependable, the 14Cs were supplied with bar frames, which would not have been much better than the sturdy plate frames of the Hendrie engines, but the longer-travel valves undoubtedly were an improvement, introduced by Montreal's own draughtsmen.  These helped make the 14Cs remarkably free-running, comfortable at 60mph despite their fly-button sized 4ft driving wheels.  

40. The Skilpadhoogte now behind us, 1881 gallops away over the last mile into Bonnievale.   

41. On the last Saturday before Christmas in 1967 the stopper to Riversdale departing Bonnievale with all its windows open, perhaps because it was a hot day, but more likely because a short while ago its passengers had been enjoying the delights of 14CRB 2007's performance over the hill from Ashton.  Even at this late date the clerestory roof line was only spoilt by the ex-works type T-24 match-boarded third class and van.  

42. Three-quarters-of-an-hour later on the same Saturday, GMA 4154 on 51-down (the erstwhile "Boat Express") came cruising along at a hectic 40mph.  The weird thing about this train was that it lasted for almost 40 years after its raison d'être had been taken away by the building of the Charl Malan mailship quay at Port Elizabeth (see photo 1), but the nice thing was that it continued almost to the end to consist of predominantly clerestory stock.

The working time books (WTBs) solemnly classified 51-down and 52-up as "fast passenger"(!).  This was perhaps only in a relative sense when compared with 9-down and 8-up mails.   The elapsed time of 51-down from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth was 29hrs 35mins an overall speed of 22.8 mph for the 675 miles (this was quick compared with 9-down's 38hrs 45mins!).

43. In March 1989 the RSSA Preservation Group ran the very successful "Kei Explorer" railtour which was supposed to be the last with a complete train of clerestory coaches but just before the trip some of the clerestories had to be substituted.  It was still early days for photographic stops in section, which until then had been anathema to the Operating Department but this was a good one between Drew and Jubilee with GMA No 4072.

44. The same train closer to Jubilee with even more dramatic lighting.  After this we never saw the sun again that day.

45. The stretch between Drew and Jubilee beneath the Leeurivierberg (as this section of the Langeberg is called) probably has the finest backdrops on the NCCR.  This was 15BR 1987 about three miles before Jubilee siding in September 1971 (the same train featured in photo 35). 

46. My very favourite NCCR photo - we used John Carter's version of it in "The Great Steam Trek".  For old time's sake I'll use the same caption: "In September 1971, 51-down with a GMA in charge on its once-weekly run between the Mother City and Algoa Bay, winds through the wheatfields near Jubilee.  In the background the sandstone krantzes of the Leeurivierberg glow in the evening light.  This express has been discontinued and alien traction threatens scenes like these throughout the Garden Route". 

47. That fabulous mountain again, presiding majestically over 14CRB 1888 bringing 561-down around the last curve into Jubilee siding in July 1977.

48. "Our last photo was the train arriving at Jubilee at around 17.30 with the sun having been set for some time but fortunately there was sufficient reflected light and colour in the sky to make a reasonable picture."  Ja well Dave, no one's complaining. 

49. Crossing of 553-down T&P with GMA 4125 and 564-up T&P with GMA 4116, at Jubilee on a Sunday in July 1976.

50. The last of the sun illuminates the crew changeover at Jubilee.  Many of the diagrams out of Worcester and Riversdale sheds called for "cross-trip" working - popular because it meant the crews did not have to book off on a shift.  It called for a little extra discipline as to schedule-keeping which of course would be almost impossible today. In this July 1975 scene the trains were 559-down goods (left) and 540-up, the pick-up goods.

51. Terminal days for the Garratts on the NCCR, and one of my last visits in the draught era.  The crews have changed over and the east and westbound T&Ps, 553-down and 564-up, each with its allotted tri-compo passenger brake van, go their respective ways. March 1978.  Can anyone tell us when steam finally finished up along here? 

52. A 15-coach westbound "Union Limited" crammed full of foreign tourists heading for Jubilee in June 1999.  The locomotives were GO 2572 + GMA 4122, a combination that would have been unusual in steam days! 

Until suppressed by Transnet "management" these railtours, expertly planned, set up and executed by Ian Pretorius, were a growing business that generated large amounts of hard currency.  Given our regime's predilection for hobbling sectors that generate wealth, it is hardly surprising that the tours were terminated in 2005. 

53.  GMA 4124 on 540-up goods has just filled up at the Leeurivier tank (left edge of the picture) and is heading west towards Jubilee .  When looking east this part of the line is not overshadowed by the Leeurivierberge - those are the Clock Peaks of Swellendam in the background. 

54. That's Leeurivier halt in the hollow.  The tank is hidden by the exhaust of GMA 4119 eastbound which has been opened up for the twisting mile of 1-in-40 to the top of the ridge at Voorhuis. The ascent is not helped by the 5-chain curve at the start of the climb, especially should a train have to stop for a passenger/s there. 

55. Only a few hundred yards to Voorhuis now.  This is the last time I'll bother you with 15BR 1983 on 561-down (the same train as in photos 35 and 45) but that 300-ton load is dragging him back....dragging him back.  You can tell from the spacing of the puffs that there was more than just a second between each exhaust beat.

56. A last glimpse of the solid wall of the Leeurivierberg as 561-down, with trucks of locomotive coal for Riversdale, drifts away from its stop at Voorhuis.  From here it will descend to the left bank of the Breede before saying goodbye to the river once and for all at Uitvlugt farm. 

57. Apologies are hardly needed for providing so many pictures of the 14CRBs running through their home territory.  This was that October 1980 Steam Safari (again!) beginning the climb away from the Breede River up to Voorhuis with the wheatfields of Uitvlugt soon ready for harvesting and some of the Clock Peaks of Swellendam. 

58. "Eventually a distant rumble could be heard on a perfectly still morning and some minutes later GMAM Garratt No. 4135 came into view.  Expecting the usual single suburban coach tacked onto the rear of a freight we were somewhat surprised to see a substantial train of 6 loaded bogie freight wagons and 5 modern steel bogie passenger coaches."  What a way to start your day!  By now readers will have realised that we've been following this train in reverse all the way from Mowers. 

59. A Steam Safari railtour westbound out of Swellendam in June 1992.  The engine was GMA 4072 and those are the Clock Peaks of Swellendam in the background, with 12 O'clock Peak prominent in the middle of the picture.  The townsfolk tell us that at midday on the Summer solstice the sun is almost directly over it and they can tell the time of day by observing the shadows of the other seven peaks, the highest of which at 5,600ft is "Misty" (top right).  This might be just a rumour.  

60.  Pure indulgence that I trust will not cause panic amongst the earnest historians among our readers.  In fact its only justification for being here is that it is such a beautiful picture - no class 15A ever reached Swellendam during the period of our remit, but at least it is on the NCCR.  For the record, the engine is a class 15A No 1970, latterly known as "Milly", on a Rodgers railtour in 1995.

61. On a balmy afternoon in July 1976, 555-down conditional goods heads for the ridge between Swellendam and Buffeljagsrivier.  This train didn't always run but when it did it made possible some good photos.  Eastbound, Swellendam marks the point where the NCCR leaves the Breede River Valley, although the final climb away from it only begins at Buffeljagsrivier. From here on the rivers draining the Langeberg get much more serious.  Their crossings caused many bridging problems for the NCCR civil contractors, Messrs George Pauling and Co and the frequent and severe climbs up to their watersheds created load-restricting operating difficulties for the NCCR. 

62.  Buffeljagsrivier (= Buffalo-hunts River) was a major servicing point for east and westbound locomotives, the gradients away from here in both directions being the standard NCCR uncompensated 1-in-40 for several miles.  In October 1978 the engines of 549-down and 564-up T&Ps were simultaneously being prepared for the next phase of their exertions.  It is just possible to see the tri-compo van on 564-up. 

63. The lever frame and track diagram in the cabin at Buffeljagsrivier, neat and tidy - indicators of a disciplined, if somewhat leisurely railway.   

64. For whatever reason, when steam goes it seems to take the railway with it.  A fine action study of class 33s charging through Buffeljagsrivier several years later.  No need to take water today, nor any necessity for station foremen, signal cabins or signals, because one train can clear the traffic hauled by three or four in the ole days. But oh, how scruffy and neglected everything looks. Is this how it was meant to be? 

65. Near the end of NCCR steam, in July 1978 a GMA on 547-dn goods hard at work on the 10-mile grade from Buffeljagsrivier to Niekerkshek.  Note the preponderance of short wagons, these vehicles were ideal for the agricultural districts through which this railway ran.  The only people that benefited from their elimination c 1980 were the Operating Department - and of course the accountants, who decreed that henceforth the minimum demurrage would be that for a bogie vehicle.  A case of "How to lose friends and alienate customers" - to paraphrase Dale Carnegie. No wonder railwaymen didn't understand what happened to them when deregulation arrived.

66. Only in midsummer could 561-down be photographed in sun east of Buffeljagsrivier, where, as you can see there were several places to show the train with the magnificent backdrop of the Langeberg.  Power on this January day in 1974 was provided by 15BR 1982.   

67. With no business here this day the same train raced through Bontebokskloof on the only bit of level between Buffeljagsrivier and Niekerkshek.  Just look at all that disgusting smoke, in spite of which there are still plenty of open windows. 

68. Even more disgusting smoke from the GMA of 547-down goods racing through Bontebokskloof. The enormous kloof, behind the train, is reminiscent of the famous Chappar Rift which was actually traversed by the North West Railway in Pakistan. Until the early seventies it was the practice to turn the Garratts twice/year to even tyre wear so this chimney-first photo from September 1971 was not a set-up.  Why this sensible policy was abandoned I don't know but here is another take on the "right way round" story, from Peter Micenko: "I recall Fanie Coetzee (loco foreman) who was an ex-Kapenaar [telling me] that the Worcester Garratts ran chimney first in winter and bunker first in summer. Winter to keep the crew warm and summer to keep them less warm."

69. Several years later, the same train as in photo 64 with a pair of class 33 diesels approaching Niekerkshek siding, the summit of the ridge between Buffeljagsrivier and Vleidam.   

70. It would seem this down goods has been waiting awhile for its opposite number but I'm not sure if the usual changeover point for crews had been changed from Jubilee to Karringmelk by this time.  Amazing: there seems to be almost as much kit (though a bit softer - no trommels or shovel) for a diesel crew as a steam one!  Whether charming Charmaine, the young lady assistant would have handled the shovel of 561-down's 15BR all the way from Worcester to Riversdale is ponderable - do we detect a make-up bag on the left? 

71. We're kinda jumping around a bit in time, but the difference between a dieselised railway and a steam one is so striking that it seems appropriate here.  The train was 564-up T&P with regulation tri-compo van attached; Vleidam, formerly Port Beaufort Road, is just around the corner on the right and the date was July 1975. 

72. Although not reflected in the timetables there is a fierce climb away from the Duiwenhoksrivier (=Dovecotes River) at Heidelberg to a summit before Vleidam.  Approaching it in June 1998 with a Rodgers railtour was GMA 4122. 

73. Lower down on the same bank westbound out of Heidelberg but 20 years earlier, 560-up, the Saturday mixed from Riversdale to Worcester, on this occasion running about 2 hours late, in October 1978. 

74. Looking a bit down-at-heel, a pair of class 33s smoking it up eastbound out of Heidelberg in February 1991.  Ahead lies yet another long bank up to Groot Kragga at mp 250.  After steam, class 33s ran the service for a number of years until the 35s arrived.  


75.  Riversdale, at last - the most important town along the NCCR, even though the latter's headquarters were at Robertson.  Engine changing point and, after 1925, the boundary between SAR systems 1 and 3.  For the sake of completing our NCCR coverage we'll continue on to Mossel Bay from here.  (All right Briggs "why is it the most important town?": because my ancestors came from here). 

The station nameboard reminds me of another of my father's anecdotes.  During WWII the RAF set up 45 Flying School at Oudtshoorn to train fighter pilots. On a business trip c 1940 Dad was returning to Cape Town on 8-up in a coupé for which he had paid a sole-occupancy surcharge.  At about 09:30 the very full train drew into Oudtshoorn where the conducter had a difficult job accommodating clamouring would-be passengers.  Eventually he asked my Dad whether he would mind sharing his compartment with a RAF pilot who was returning to England and had to report to his ship by 10:00 next morning.  Imbued with true patriotic spirit my father said yes, so with all his kit the pilot scrambled aboard and soon 8-up was underway again, now with a GD.  All the way to the summit of Montagu Pass the pilot anxiously watched, but did not see, the amazing scenery crawling by.  He was only interested in getting onto his ship in Table Bay Harbour.  The spectacular descent into George held no fascination at all - he just kept questioning whether or not the train was keeping to schedule.

By 19:30 that winter's evening it was dark and the train had lost a bit of time.  The pilot was impatiently gazing out the window when the lights of a town appeared out of the darkness. Asking where they were, he was told "Riversdale"!  Sure enough, a few minutes later the station nameboard hove into view - it was almost 12 hours since they had left Oudtshoorn.  At this he became severely agitated.  As part of their training, when taking off from Oudtshoorn pilots had to fly over Riversdale to set their compasses. It took 20 minutes!

That night the panic-stricken flier paced up and down the frigid corridor, not sleeping a wink.  However, the lost hour was made up somehow and on time at 09:00 next morning they arrived in Cape Town.  That gave him an hour to get on board his ship.

76. Riversdale shed was neither big nor a thing of beauty but for almost 80 years it sheltered engines coming in from Worcester or Mossel Bay.  Hugo snapped the shed from his 9-down compartment as it was departing, c 1970.  

77. Then he took the going away shot, showing a GMA looking altogether too big for the little shed, and the 15BR station pilot on the right.   

78. Continuing east after the engine change at Riversdale the line descends to the Kafferkuilsrivier from where cold engines were faced with an extraordinary pair of grades, both at 1/40 uncompensated, first away from the river to an unmarked summit about 350ft higher, followed immediately by a sharp descent to the Soetmelksrivier (=Sweetmilk River) before another equally severe climb to Soetmelksrivier siding. 

The Cape Venturer seen here climbing away from the Soetmelksrivier with GMA 4072 in charge was one of the last railtours featuring a solid rake of clerestory stock.  By 1986 it had become increasingly difficult to find steam crews with the skill and experience needed to work such heavy consists over the roller-coaster NCCR.  The previous day we had battled all the way from Worcester, eventually having to be banked by diesels up the Kraggakama bank out of Heidelberg.  Next day, from Riversdale, it was a different show with a fresh crew from Voorbaai who knew the road and had no difficulty with this heavy train even, spectacularly, climbing out of the Gouritz River gorge with its 1/40 grades on 5-chain reverse curves.

79. The late Frank Neave's photo of NCCR doubleheader on what looks like a predecessor of 560-up in Albertinia c 1922 - note that the practice of inserting a bogie of locomotive coal (see photos 52 & 54) went back a long way.  Although the engines are both 7th class, the front one was customised (I hesitate to use the word "modernised") by North British especially for the NCCR, in 1913, and classified 7F by SAR. The second is a standard CGR 7th, nevertheless classified 7E by SAR.  Thanks to Allen Duff and Hennie Heymans for sending us this rare photo. 

80. After Soetmelksrivier the next 20 miles eastbound through Albertinia are fairly uninteresting being comparatively level and straight until the descent to the gorge of the Gouritz River. Leith recorded the exertions of this GMA working the grade away from the river with 8-up in 1972.   

81. GMA 4103 on 8-up passing Lodewyk Tank on the steep westbound climb away from the Gouritz River bridge in August 1975.  

This in-section concrete tank built 1908-1910 is next to the main line to Mossel Bay, 9 miles from Albertinia (it is still there today). The water supply at Albertinia station didn’t meet the NCCR’s needs so Mr Lodewyk de Jager, owner of the farm Welgevonden, was approached by the NCCR to provide water for their locomotives.  In the kloofs of the Aasvoëlberg, south of the railway (on the right), water was dammed from where it flowed by gravity to the tank. Mr de Jager set a condition that all trains should stop at the siding Lodewyktenk. He could also use the train for life - gratis (information kindly provided by Mr Rudi Briel, curator of the Albertinia Museum, quoted and translated from his book: "Albertinia Honderd Jaar 1902 – 2002").

82. Showing us how it should be done in the diesel age.  Three class 35s on dynamic brake growling downgrade towards the Gouritz River bridge. 

83. About 100 years before Fanie made the previous photo an NCCR 7th class cautiously towed the daily mixed across the bridge. Once off the structure at the far end the engine would re-unite with its pilot before tackling the tortuous climb out of the gorge.

Biggest obstacle by far facing the NCCR before it reached Mossel Bay was the Gouritz River. Draining the southern Great Karoo, the Gouritz pierces the Langeberg east of Albertinia.  In spite of its huge catchment it is normally a harmless looking trickle.  But when the Karoo has good rains watch out, as my great grandfather discovered in the 1880s when he lost his loaded wagon to a flash flood while negotiating the ford (barely visible in the photo, about a half-a-mile upstream from here).  To replace this treacherous crossing the Cape PWD commissioned the design from the world-famous English Civil Engineer, Sir Benjamin Baker, (chief designer of the Forth Bridge) which was completed and opened for road traffic in 1892. 

84. A marvellous photo made by the late Frank Neave, courtesy of Transnet Heritage Library.  Being designed for road traffic, when the railway reached here in 1906, the PWD's road bridge could hardly bear the weight of the NCCR’s class 7s so there was a standing instruction that doubleheaders had to uncouple to allow the pilot across on its own.  My father, who rode 9-down in 1924, told me that the carriages stood on the bridge while the pilot was being re-attached and a strong southeaster would cause the structure to sway quite alarmingly. 

85. The new bridge, 208 feet above low water level, was completed in 1931.  It came together with completion of a project to relay the NCCR with 60lb rail.  This allowed the 7s and the two NCCR Garratts (SAR class GK) to be replaced by 14Cs which would continue to work the line (eventually complementing the Garratts) for almost the next 50 years.  When this picture was made of the first Steam Safari railtour in November 1979, the old road bridge had just been replaced by a new concrete structure out of sight on the right. 

86. A well-laid fire prepares the GEA of 9-down for the east bank of the Gouritz.  Before long the train would be down to walking pace.  Getting out of this gorge was the hardest job between Worcester and Mossel Bay; from the bridge it is four miles of 1/40 with no easing around the numerous 5-chain reverse curves and a vertical climb of 400-ft to Cooper siding. 

Once I footplated this section on a frosty morning.  Coming off the bridge with 12 on we were soon down to less than walking pace; our fireman ahead of the engine shoveling sand onto the rails. The percussion of each exhaust ricocheting off the vertical sides of the sandstone cuttings was like standing without earmuffs next to a firing cannon.  Legendary driver Mickey Gerber's laconic "if they showed the real gradient on that post we'd never get out of there" seemed appropriate as we passed the 40/61 post signifying the end of the steepest section.

87.  Two class 33s and one mt DZ, a latter-day version of the T&Ps sans tri-compo, do not an economical train make.  This is not an isolated occurrence.  One, two or three wagon trains are common along here.  I think the case is: if the train is scheduled to run it must run even if there's no traffic (very good for overtime, don't you know).  

For a few years the old bridge was used by bungy jumpers but this was recently stopped because of the condition of the bridge. Judging by its rusty state it can only be a matter of time before it collapses into the river.  The following recollection came from Peter Micenko, regular author on SoAR: "Another time when I was bridge maintenance engineer: our young engineers were trying out their ideas of using mountain-climbing gear to carry out inspections on the Gouritz bridge (and the Gwaing and Maalgaten). The nearby bungy jumpers were so impressed they gave our youngsters a cheap rate to double bungy off the old bridge. They did, and I don't know who had the browner pants - them on the bungy or me having to explain to Danie Barnard [Peter's boss] what went on if the rubber broke. Thankfully it did not."

88. And here we have one of those numerous 5-chain, check-railed reverse curves on a 1-in-40 gradient (equivalent to 1-in-33) that I keep telling you about.  In April 1973 GEA 4047 was working away from the Gouritz River with a lightly-loaded 107-down T&P.  

89. At this stage most of you would have realised that your narrator is an incurable romantic: "when steam went it took the railway with it" sounds more like Ruskin, except that his rant was that when horses and carriages went they took the English countryside with them. 

But right now I'm sitting back enjoying these 33s on a Rovos Rail "Pride of Africa" railtour rumbling through Kleinberg siding on a hazy winter afternoon, surrounded by aloes in peak season......... and I'm thinking about all of youse clever okes that didn't chuck out their cameras at the end of steam.  When did you take this, Fanie?

90. A 1978 photo of 8-up, its GMA grinding uphill through virgin coastal fynbos to Bartlesfontein where the Mossgas plant is situated today. In less than five miles from Voorbaai (Fore Bay in NCCR days) the line climbs 600 feet to Bartlesfontein via the usual NCCR continuous succession of five-chain reverse curves.  I can still remember the squealing of the flanges as the coaches were dragged around these curves - it is actually the backs of flanges rubbing against checkrails that generate the sound.   

91. From 1976, when Kodak pulled out of South Africa due to Apartheid, we were forced to revert to Crappochrome or send exposed film via unreliable airmail to foreign labs.  This was a grainy experiment showing the same train as in photo 88 a few minutes later and included here to compare with photo 89 by Fanie Kleynhans, presumably taken on a digital camera.  The location is just around the corner from Voorbaai, from where trains seldom exceeded 10 to 12 mph (8-up was allowed 36 minutes for the six miles from Hartenbos to Bartlesfontein).  Note that the windows are mostly open and the countryside is covered with virgin fynbos practically down to the sea.  The NCCR smell was strong here.  

92. Closer yet, that white board is the warning to drivers that Voorbaai is but 600 yards away.  The "Pride of Africa" is taking the first of the reverse curves up to Bartlesfontein. Just look at the state of the front diesel - ugh!........ surely not a respectful way to treat a customer who generates tens of millions of rands in hard currency annually.  

I wish I had found this nice spot forty years ago, before the N2 raceway and the mall had been built along with all those cluster houses and flats that have sprouted like mushrooms and Eskom's high tension lines that now accompany the railway all the way up the valley to the Mossgas plant at Bartlesfontein.  That's Mossel Bay in the background.

93. Voorbaai at last, somewhat changed from when it was Fore Bay.  Here the NCCR and the CGR divided, the first heading for Worcester and the latter intially for George and after 1913 to Oudtshoorn and Port Elizabeth.  My father knew the junction when it was just a set of points with a nameboard in the bushes alongside the primitive strip of dirt that was Thomas Bain's main road to George.  There were no dwellings this side of Mossel Bay itself.  
The view shows the sidings east of the junction - Voorbaai steam shed is just off frame to the right.  That's Rovos Rail's carriages in the sidings but there are no longer any wagons for general traffic, the only goods vehicles being those long lines of tankers to serve Mossgas.  Stored on the right are some sorry-looking Union Express carriages - the tragedy of the suppression of these trains is mind bending. 

94. Allen Duff tells us this was the train attending the official opening of the railway into Mossel Bay on 1st February 1906, hauled appropriately by NCCR 7th No 1.   

95. The VIPs have just disembarked from the train to attend the opening ceremony.  In the passenger seat of the front vehicle is Sir Walter Hely-Hutchinson, Governor of Cape Colony, who made the official speech and cut the tape.  The driver is Mr A I Vincent, Mayor of Mossel Bay, and those veiled ladies sitting behind them are presumably their wives.  Who the others are I do not know, but I'm really curious about the ghostly figure under the bowler hat who looks uncannily like Michael Stevens, first Locomotive Superintendent of the CGR who by this time was long retired - perhaps that is his ghost.  Thanks to Len Ward we can tell you that the vehicles (left to right) are: 1906 Wolseley; 1904/5 Napier; 1906 Standard.

Incidentally, the Cape Town guests would almost certainly have come by rail.  Although more direct, in those days it would have taken longer to do the journey by road - my father said when he went to Wilderness in the family Hupmobile in the early '20s there were 101 (one hundred and one!) farm gates across the main road between Swellendam and Mossel Bay!  

96. The welcoming arch was prepared for the Governor and his entourage - the procession was specially stopped for him to admire it.  The design and painting of it was the work of Mr George Gordon, the NCCR's civil engineer and his wife (it was she who did the coat of arms) but the wording is Oirish for (something like) "A Hundred Thousand Welcomes" so one suspects that was at the instigation of Fred Dawson himself.

97. Ceremony accomplished, VIPs and local dignitaries pose for a photo before, at long last, heading off to the traditional bunfight and piss-up in the town hall.  We are told that is famous Fred Dawson, front row on the extreme left, Governor Hely Hutchinson looking bored in the middle and, in the black bowler hat, Mr A I Vincent, the Mayor.  If anyone can fill in some more names we would be grateful.

98. A year after the opening it was possible to get from Mossel Bay to Cape Town in 24 hours or an average speed for the 320 miles of 13mph!  Even over new-fangled motor cars this was a big improvement.  By 1916 this had been reduced to 20 hours (see below) but the improvement slowed down after that.  By 1929 this was cut to a little more than 19 hours and by 1940 to less than 18.  By this time the "Boat Express" was doing the same distance in 12hr 47mins at an overall average speed of 25mph.  This stayed much the same until discontinuation of this service in 1971 but by 1978 the overall running time of the mails (9-down and 8-up) had crept back up over 18 hours!  So much for progress.

99. By 1916 four hours had been cut from the running time to Cape Town mainly due to slicker (!) running by the NCCR to Worcester.  Only getting a mention here because it will be covered in the System 3 chapter, is the NCCR's operation of Mossel Bay to George by agreement first with the CGR and from 1910 with SAR.  With the opening of Montagu rail pass in August 1913 operations between Mossel Bay and George were handed over to the SAR.

100. Another Frank Neave classic, courtesy of the Transnet Heritage Library.  Forget the Twentieth Century Limited, this old 21st century fuddy-duddy would have much preferred to take the doubleheaded 8-up about to leave Mossel Bay for Cape Town c 1922 with NCCR's own brand of 7th class leading a straight CGR design later to become classes 7F and 7E respectively.

101. Included only because of interest value as the dyes have leached out of this photo of the arrival at its destination of 1305-down, the Johannesburg-Mossel Bay express, with 9-down, the Port Elizabeth mail waiting to depart on the right. It wasn't Mr Kodak's fault.  Listen to a solemn warning: if you have to clean your slides don't use a cleaner that absorbs the colours.  (that's my Dad blowing his nose on the right).  July 1957.

102. The tiny NCCR shed at Mossel Bay is in the middle. It was barely big enough to hold four class 7s or a pair of GEAs, as in this May 1962 photo.  It is surrounded by later lean-tos and other structures – such as a rudimentary open-sided 15M shed.  The rear shunting lead went straight out onto the breakwater behind the main shed.  Classes GEA, 8, 7 and 24 are visible - a representative selection of types that worked out of Mossel Bay at that time (excepting J, GD, GK and the solitary class FC – all of these had gone by 1955).


It is customary to use the phrase "too numerous to mention".  However the inputs of the following have been so fundamental to the successful completion of this chapter that Les and I would like to name them all:

Albertinia Museum, John Carter, Eric Conradie, Piet Conradie, Andrew Deacon, Hugo de Wet, Allen Duff, Rob Hogan, Christo Kleingeld, Fanie Kleynhans, Dick Manton, Bruno Martin, Yolanda Meyer, Peter Micenko, Mossel Bay Museum, Wayne Nauschutz, Mark Robinson, Railway History Group, David Rodgers, Peter Rogers, Peter Stow, Joyce van der Vyver, Len Ward, Vernon Wilson


NB: Our next chapter will be Les's final word on Braamfontein: BRR Part 2, due out shortly now that our internet and Telkom problems seem to be sorted out.