This Officer, during the action near Krugersdorp, on the 11th July, 1900, volunteered for and took out the party which successfully dragged a Royal Artillery wagon under cover of a small kopje, though exposed to a very heavy and accurate fire at only 850 yards range. He also accompanied the second party of volunteers who went out to try and bring in one of the guns. During the attempt he was mortally wounded, dying shortly afterwards. His cool and gallant conduct was the admiration of all who witnessed it, and, had Captain Younger lived, the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief in South Africa, would have recommended him for the high award of the Victoria Cross, at the same time as Captain W. E. Gordon, of the same Regiment.”
The grave of David Reginald Younger VC. may be found in Burgershoop Cemetery, Krugersdorp, within the ABW plot. Google Earth co-ordinates for the cemetery are: 26°6.164’S 27° 45.610′
There are a number of Anglo Boer War blockhouses left scattered around the country, but not too many in the territory that I used to cover. In fact I have only seen two: Fort Harlech in Krugersdorp and the famous Witkop Blockhouse on the way to Vereeniging. And, I have Clinton Hattingh, Terry Cawood and Willem Joythe to thank for the balance of images on this page. More about the design and variations of blockhouses may be found at BRITAIN’S LAST CASTLES, Masonry Blockhouses of the South African War, 1899-1902 by Richard Tomlinson
Fort Harlech (Krugersdorp)
This blockhouse may be found in Bill Taylor Park in Potgieter Street, Monument, Krugersdorp. Google Earth co-ordinates 26° 5’49.04″S 27°47’19.39″E.
The Witkop Blockhouse is on the road between Alberton and Vereeniging (R59) and is next to the Engen Garage. When I last saw it in 2008, it was already looking very precarious, apparently things have gotten much worse. Google Earth co-ordinates 26°28’1.57″S 28° 4’11.94″E
This blockhouse may be found in the grounds of the Bela Bela Muncipality. Google Earth co-ordinates S 24 53.044′ E 28 17.447′. Photos courtesy of Clinton Hattingh 2010.
Bartons Folly (Hekpoort)
Bartons Folly is on the hill above the road (R563) leading up to Hekpoort, about 30 kilos from Magaliesberg. Images courtesy of Willem Joythe 2012. Google Earth co-ordinates: 25°55’2.52″S 27°37’14.62″E.
The Noupoort Blockhouse was photographed by Terry Cawood in August 2012. Google Earth co-ordinates: 31°10’30.86″S 24°56’52.25″E.
This blockhouse is usually described as a fort, and is built out of raw tigers eye. It is situated on Prieska Koppie which today is the Ria Huysamen Aloe Garden. It was photographed by Terry Cawood in August 2012.
I spent a lot of time trying to find Sanrasm. The signage at Millsite was old, and it pointed in a nebulous direction, but there was no real road to follow. And, when it was almost in my grasp I gave up to return on another day. When I eventually found the place it was closed, and after some persuasion a friendly security guard gave me the number for the office. The excuse I was given was that “the grass was long and they could not let me in”. It was obvious that one of the reasons for the long grass was that somebody wasn’t doing their job! I was potentially a willing volunteer, but they were not really interested in me, instead I was fobbed off and told to go have a look at the Chamdor locomotive collection instead. and that was that.
I left feeling despondent, there was so much to see behind that fence, but unless I got very lucky there was no way I was going to see what there was! I did however take pics through the fence, and vowed that this was not the end. I would get in there eventually.
These images were taken over and through the fence.
I then discovered the “scrap line” while on a trip to Magaliesburg with Reefsteamers. This was a terrible place, and I had to fight my way through bushes and trees to get there (there was a much easier way, but I did not know it at the time). Now that I think about it, this was a really stupid thing I did. The area was still a mining area and there was a huge quarry on one side and the terrain was really dangerous and I was lucky to come out of this was a bad case of blackjacks and scrapes and scratches. I was also able to catch a glimpse into the site itself from the other side, and it was as bad here as I had seen from the gate. Worse was to come though, when I discovered North Site.
I had not even been aware of North Site when I had first visited Sanrasm, and only picked up on it existing by accident. I added it to my list and grabbed my camera and headed out there. Like South Site. it too was locked, overgrown and derelict, with an extensive pile of derelict locos and scrap outside the gates. It was very difficult to comprehend what I was seeing, it just got worse all the time.
I was lucky to be able to get inside Sanrasm when one of my friends managed to get himself a job cleaning up the place. That entailed cutting grass, trimming trees and vegetation, clearing up years of accumulated rubbish. It also meant navigating egos and placating the resident empire builder. Through him I was able to access the railwayana inside both sides of the track, and what I saw was shocking, but also fascinating.
Historically there were many important locos and coaches, and some were the only representatives of their class. Most had been vandalised beyond repair, and some were rotten when they got there, but a lot had happened during the tenure of the that one person. A lot of the rot was easy to sort out, it just required a bit of work. Work that was seemingly beyond them. But, enough said, lets get on with the show. These page are very graphic intensive so may take awhile to load.
North Site was fascinating. There were a lot of really interesting bits and pieces there, as well as a large collection of unanswered questions. Most of the very old coaches were very dangerous, woodwork was rotten, steelwork corroded, and not to mention the ever present danger of huge thorn bushes, bees and possibly snakes. There were also 3 baggage vans that were locked and we never did find out what was inside of them. Knowing Sanrasm it was either historic, or just junk. The workshops were fascinating too, but they had been left to rot away, and the closed loco shed housed two historically important locos. Most of the material here had been donated or bought for a song, but once acquired, it had been left to rot. We know who to blame, but realistically blame can also be apportioned to the members of the group who never questioned what was going on. Most volunteers had long left, and this place was going nowhere really fast. Once again this page is graphic intensive, so it may be slow.
On 10 September 2010 I was unofficially included in the team that went to Sanrasm to evaluate the collection and make recommendations. I will not go into the backdoor politics that had to happen to even get to this point, and neither will I name any names. The biggest obstacle that was faced was thatNorth Site was no longer connected to South Site or to the line to Magaliesburg that divided the two sites. Moving anything would involve a crane, and there weren’t really funds to do this. Some very difficult decisions had to be made though, and I am glad that logic finally overcame pig headedness.
These are probably amongst the last images taken of these two sites before they started being rationalised.
On 10 September 2010 I was unofficially included in the team that went to Sanrasm to evaluate the collection and make recommendations. These are the images taken at North Site. The biggest obstacle that was faced was that North Site was no longer connected toSouth Site or to the line to Magaliesburg that divided the two sites. Moving anything would involve a crane, and there weren’t really funds to do this. Some very difficult decisions had to be made though, and I am glad that logic finally overcame pig headedness. In my opinion North Site had the real gems, but the conditions of the equipment realistically made them only fit for scrap. The coaches were rotten, the locos rusted away, and the chopped up Garrett collection still angered everybody.
These are probably amongst the last images taken of these two sites before they started being rationalised.
It was decided that many of the derelict locos and assorted junk would be scrapped to raise funds to boost security and restore some of the more historically valuable or unique exhibits. There were no easy decisions to be made here. As much as we would all love to see everything preserved, there is just no way it could be accomplished without vast amounts of money and volunteers. The reality was the split between Northand South Sites. North Site had to be cleared, there were no two ways about it. There were some items that would be returned to their owners, of specific interest were 4 locos that had belonged to Eskom, as well as a few other odds and ends. The eventual plan seemed to be that the restored remnants would eventually be sent to Reefsteamers in Germiston, while narrow gauge items would probably go to Sandstone. I will not go into the politics of the situation though, a lot of people were very unhappy about what happened, but again it comes down to what actions could be taken to either restore or safeguard what was left. This page deals with the breaking up of the collection. Some of these images may be sad to see, but the reality is that there were not too many options available. It should be born in mind that the two sites in Randfontein had neither running water, sewerage and usually no electricity. The fence was a joke, the grass was taking over again (My friend had quit after yet another round of fighting with the powers that be), and security was limited to a single guard who had to watch two separate sites.
The images below are of South Site. and the images below those are of North Site.
But even at this stage of the process scrap thieves still got onto the site, and amongst others stole the bearings off a 15F which resulted in it being added to the list of items to be cut. The reality is that once the frames get cut to remove bearings the loco is as only really fit to be cut up. To make matters worse, while cutting was happening at North site sparks caused a fire which effectively destroyed most of remaining wooden coaches and flammable items on the site.
Once the collection had been rationalised work was started on trying to preserve what was left. The irony is that a lot of damage had been done because simple things had never been seen to. Closing windows in coaches, fixing leaks in roofs, removing coal from tenders, cutting grass, a coat of paint, etc. These were things that the new team had to tackle, and they went to it with a vengeance. I seemed to only be able to get there once in awhile, but I could see the difference immediately. A lot of the wood, screws, fittings and glass from the broken up coaches were being used to restore the other coaches on the site. The two dining saloons were in a very poor condition due to neglect, but now they were looking fantastic on the exterior. Some pages link to further pages on that particular vehicle.
These images were mostly taken in 2011, with my last visit happening in June 2012. Unfortunately this was the last time I visited Sanrasm. In April 2014, the scrap vultures hit again, cutting the frames of a number of locos, thereby condemning them to the cutting torches just like everything else. All that is really left are the coaches, and the spares from some of the locos that will live on in the preserved machines still running in South Africa. These items were taken to Reefsteamers in Germiston, although I do not know any of the details of what has survived, both Class 6s survived but can say that 14R-1909, 14R-1705 and 1737 were scrapped, as was 15BR-1990, 1A-1253, the GDA Garrat, 16DA-844 and the Grafton steam crane were all scrapped and sadly 19D-2644 Wardale is now history. Oddly enough the coaches did survive reasonably well and along with the remnants were taken to Reefsteamers.