musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Month: August 2011

The Robertville War Memorial

I have to admit that this World War 1 Memorial in Robertville/Stormill on the West Rand came as a surprise. For starters there is nothing written about this Memorial, it came totally out of the blue.

Given its location and proximity to old mining areas it is related to one of the mines that was around in the early 1900’s. Situated just off Main Reef Road next to Stormill, it has now become more of a derelict structure than an important part of history. Special thanks must go to Terry Cawood who notified me about it, and Giel Nel who took the first pics. For want of a better name I originally designated it as Robertville War Memorial, although the memorial is on the former property of CMR making it the CMR War Memorial.

I took these images on 31 August 2011 and I was notified in November 2012 that the memorial had been removed. Whether it was reclaimed by its owners, or stolen I cannot say, but sadly it can now be classified as extinct. Apart from the Roll of Honour, the only markings on it were:

A Remembrance to all who served in the Great War

Erected as a token of respect & esteem to those who who fell in the Great War

Erected by their fellow employees, erected 05 December 1920

The memorial is very similar in design to that of the Ferreira Deep and Kingston Frost memorials in Johannesburg.  

The Memorial was located at Google Earth Co-ordinates 26° 12.004’S, 27° 56.436’E, and its current whereabouts are unknown.

© DRW 2011-2018. Retrospectively recreated 22/06/2016. 

Updated: 24/12/2017 — 19:14

Linesiding 12AR-1535

One of my all time favourite steam engines in South Africa is 12AR-1535 “Susan”. The pair of us go a long way back to my days when I worked in Germiston. Like me, she is still around, albeit she is much better looking. I did a Magaliesburg trip with her in 2009 and whenever I have grave hunting to do in the area I would try to tie it in when a steam engine is in the area and try get some pics too. This is more of a photo essay type post, there is not a lot to say.

My favourite spot for line siding is near a set of grain silo’s at the top of a hill with a view of the mine dumps of Randfontein in the distance and a long climb up to where I would be patiently waiting.

The area is called “Battery”, and I expect many many years ago there was even a station here. The derelict building certainly points to it.

I would be armed with rough timings as to where the train would be, the last known point probably being Krugersdorp station. After that anything is possible. At parts the line is a single one so any oncoming trains from Magaliesburg side could mean a delay near Millsite. On this particular day a diesel with a load of empty wagons came trundling past but stopped on the downward slope. Which meant my train was on the stretch between Millsite and Battery.  If you can zoom in far enough you can sometimes spot the train travelling along the flat section before turning into the uphill stretch.

Eventually there was movement and I could turn on the video camera and start filming. It is very possible that I have video of the event, but finding it is a whole different kettle of fish

Look, here is our train climbing the hill. I seem tor recall that I had problems with the video camera on this occasion, so only a few stills exist. Sadly though, Susan was not making clouds of smoke like she is supposed to. 

The goods train on the other line continued its journey towards Randfontein once the line was completely clear.

Once the train was past I hopped into my car and barrelled along to Magaliesburg, There is no guarantee that you will get there before the train does either. I generally was not interested in catching her at the station, I had bigger fish to fry. Once the train has offloaded her passengers at the hotel she then faces a long upward slog and a left turn immediately at the top of the hill. 

 By the magic of television, the video of this hill climb does exist on my youtube channel. You can also click on the pic below and theoretically it will open in a new window.

Previously the train would spend the afternoon at the station, with passengers using the facilities at the station, but Reefsteamers started using a place called Vlakdrift instead and the loco would continue from here to Vlakdrift. 

Once the train had stopped Susan was uncoupled and run around to be serviced.

At this point I left the area and went gravehunting close by, the intention being to catch up with the train a bit later, or go home when I was done. It really depended on time.  

And while I was rooting through the veldt traffic would occasionally pass me on the single line to Krugersdorp or in the other direction (I believe the line eventually ends up in Botswana). 

I seem to recall on this particular trip I wanted to watch the pull away at the station so made sure I was in position round about the time the train was ready to leave Magaliesburg. 

Lo and behold, there is video of her arrival at the hotel  and if you stick around long enough there is her pull away too (1.18 minutes into the video), or you can cheat and click on the link below for the edited version. 

There is even video of her passing through Witpoortjie. Those were good memories that helped me reconnect with steam and our rare steam heritage in South Africa. I really enjoyed linesiding, although did not always have the patience to do it regularly. I had to be able to tie it into some other activity. This time around I was just lucky to get some interesting footage of a machine that still succeeds in captivating everybody that sees it. Live steam has the ability to make people stop and stare, to forget about their cellphones and admire the elementalness of it. And every child instinctively knows how to make the noise of a steam whistle.  

© DRW 2011-2018. Retrospectively created 05/06/2016

Updated: 24/12/2017 — 19:15

Gravehunting in Magaliesburg

Lets face it, Magaliesburg is a small town stuck in a slightly different era. Its history isn’t really written down and finding anything about its past has been a pretty fruitless exercise. Looking at the area through Google Earth reveals heaps of abandoned and derelict structures, large tracts of open land and no way of knowing what it looked like before. 
My reason for the trip was two-fold. Firstly I wanted to photograph Susan on her day trip out to Vlakdrift. Although for some reason part of the video I shot did not come out. Still, I did get some great material. 

 
The second aim of my trip was to head out to the small cemetery I found last time I was in the area. I was defeated that time around by bees and thorn trees. 

Between then and now a fire had decimated the undergrowth so I could at least see the graves. This little cem is part of the farm Steenkoppie. Almost within spitting distance is yet another Steenkoppie relic, and a bit further than that a much larger cem perched on a downslope on the same side of the Blaauwbank River as my old Zuickerboschfontein nemesis is. We were able to see 63 graves in that cem, but 95% were without markings. 

This graveyard is identified and posted at Egssa as “Zuickerboschfontein 151, farm cemetery 2”   We had to cross the river (Blauwbank?) to get to the cem, and it has a strange other worldliness about it, almost like an alien landscape.

I also managed to get down to the Jennings Family cem (identified as “Zuickerboschfontein 151, Blauwbank farm cemetery 1”).  and the fire had revealed all the graves, it seems as if I had missed at least one during my last trip. I think I have them all now. The comparison between before and after the fire is quite amazing.
 
This is what the grass looked like before the fire. 
 
 
And after the fire. What a difference it made.  I have also had a better look around that rambling old derelict house, its amazing how the undergrowth is trying to bury it. From what I heard the place was intact not too many years back, but it has since been stripped of everything. I would have loved to have seen it in its heyday, especially the interiors as some of the rooms are tiny. 
 
  

 
There was no sign of my dropped camera either, so I was still very peeved at this place. I am going to have to go back to Magalies soon, probably this next weekend. Susan is rostered again, and I have a cem up near Bartons Folly to go photograph, and I need better GPS co-ordinates for Steenkoppie. Its all good fun though, and I have to admit that Saturday was a real scorcher. Is that a portent of the weather to come this summer? Its enough to drive me indoors. 
 
DRW © 2011-2018. Images recreated 18/03/2016, links recreated 03/03/2018
 
Updated: 04/03/2018 — 20:01

The pros and cons of unemployment

One of the reasons I seem to have so much time on my hands is the fact that I am unemployed. Its true, the incompetents I worked for finally killed it through mismanagement, incompetence and sheer stupidity. We fought them for how long, trying to get it into their heads that the ship we were on was the Titanic and no matter how hard we were trying to get them to steer a different course they were hell bent on hitting the iceberg and taking the passengers and crew with it.
I was fortunate enough to come out financially reasonably well, but the money can’t last forever, and neither can my interest in going on. Sooner or later breaking point will arrive. Job hunting is a pretty fruitless exercise, heaps of jobs for bean counters, millwrights and electricians in bakeries, but for an eedjut like me? not a sausage. The largest insult this time around? a job for a tech at the generous salary of R1950 pm.

In 2001 I entered the money verification industry and did so much better in it that I ever did in the IT game, but again it was messed up by bad management. In 2005 I hit the skids again, but was fortunate enough to land a really good job, or should I say, a good job until “you know who” bought it out.  It appears as if now the time has come to seek out a new trade. I have 2 thoughts in mind: refrigeration or safety. The latter may not be a good idea, it seems as if that field requires lots of extremely expensive qualifications, and years of experience. The former I can do a months hands on training and while I won’t be qualified, will have another piece of pretty paper to my name. I don’t quite know what to do, although part of me says, I must find my niche working from home, doing what I do best and making small money, instead of heaps of big money.

The job market isn’t going to go my way. 10 years of money verification experience means bugger all for future prospects, in fact, it’s at this point that I delete the notes I made over the years and relegate that stuff to a folder inside my head that says “useless information”. 
 
 
 
 
 
There were only 2 really positive aspects to my 10 years of work. A free trip to Hong Kong and the UK in 2008, although the skills I picked up there have all been wasted. Just think how much dosh has had to be spent retraining somebody else in the skills I already had.
 
 
Thanks for nothing Ulysses and all its supporters. And as for “you know who”, I remember the lousy 4% increase you gave us in 2009, how you sent out an email inviting everybody to carnival day 1 day after you told those same people you were closing us down. One of the reasons being “financial”.  Remember how we wasted R550 per terminal because you were incapable of understanding that a power supply and aerial were not consumables? Remember how it took 6 months for a device to go from arriving for repair till the point when we actually received it to do the repair on? Remember all those customers you USED TO HAVE?
Happy? I am sure the shareholders will be chuffed
Update 03/2016.
While recreating the images in this blog I bumped into this post. And I am now sitting in the UK, having left SA in 2013. The money for this step came from the retrenchment, but at my age that retrenchment was fatal. By the time I left I had had 2 interviews, both with agents (Who have still not called me back). It is a struggle now, but I am coping somehow.
 
© DRW 2011-2018. Images recreated 18/03/2016 
Updated: 24/12/2017 — 19:17

61 Mech AGM

I attended the 61 Mech Veterans Association AGM on Saturday 20th of August. Once again it was a mixture of memories, faces, places and things from 30 years ago. Interestingly enough, our old Bravo coy was well represented, with the 1IB and 4 Pel Bevs, not to mention at least 4 “other ranks”.
 
I like the sense of occasion the military can put on, with it solemn Remembrance ceremonies, and ageing ex soldiers, but I cannot but help feel more drawn to those in France for the WW1 casualties. Sadly,  in 50 years time when we are all gone, nobody will remember us, but those who lay in foreign fields will live forever.
 

  
 
On the same day I managed to get pics of the SAHA Memorial at the Zoo, the second of the 6 SAHA Memorials that exist in SA. This one is intact, and the plaque is legible. A wonderful find to add to the collection.  Logistically one more is not impossible to photograph, assuming I make the trip to Pretoria, and everybody knows how much I love Pretoria! (especially the cemeteries).  
 
 

 

© DRW 2011-2018. Images recreated and new images added 18/03/2016

Updated: 24/12/2017 — 19:18

Chartwell, Nooitgedacht, Fourways and Larsens Farm

A fine day of gravehunting today. There were 4 tasks to be completed. Firstly, check out Larsens farm, then onto Nooitgedacht 534 to get proper GPS co-ordinates, then to Chartwell to get new pics and finally pop in at Fourways Memorial Garden to have a look.
Turns out Larsens Farm is actually called Rietfontein 189, and is one of the many undocumented cems in this area. There were over 100 graves there, and they were generally in a good condition. 3 new additions since it was last photographed in 2008, and I enjoyed this visit. Camera though has something stuck inside the lens that caused a dark spot in RH corner, that shifted once I got to Nooitgedacht. I hope that it doesn’t happen again because that could prove to really cause havoc. (interestingly enough, I pensioned off the camera in February 2016 and between then and now never had this spot re-appear)
 

Larsens Farm (Rietfontein 189)


Then onwards to Nooitgedacht 534. This one has also been done before, but the existing pics at eggsa are not great because of the weather in JHB at the time. Not a lot of deterioration though, considering. Graves in the veldt, an amazingly common thing in South Africa, what amazes me is that this area is riddled with graves, but finding them is a whole new ball game. From here onwards to Chartwell. 

Nooitgedacht 534

Finding Chartwell Rietvallei wasn’t too difficult, for once the GPS didn’t decide to take me miles away, but for some odd reason it reverted to Afrikaans. I have no idea why it does that! The graves in question have also been photographed before, 2 marked graves, one being an ABW casualty, the other is apparently one of the original Voortrekkers, born 1825? Ok, maybe one of the original settlers in this area. Between now and the original photographs the inscription on the stone has disappeared. Possibly delaminated? I also got accurate GPS co-ordinates now, so it’s not lost. The question does beg asking, why are these graves on this open stretch of veldt next to a road? was there a farm here that got subdivided?  
 
My final destination was called “Fourways Memorial Garden”, a private cemetery out in the nether regions of Fourways. Its a professionally run private cemetery, and parts of it are really beautiful, but I don’t know, its not the sort of place that I get any sense of atmosphere from. Lets put it like this, I wouldn’t be caught dead in it. Still, it does make me wonder, if the powers that be in Johannesburg got their act together they could do something like this really easily. The problem is, it’s easier to do the bare minimal in some of the more marginal cems and then create new eco-friendly ones elsewhere, instead of taking historical sites like Brixton and Braamfontein and making them great. I didn’t take many pics here because of the private ownership issue, but it was an interesting look at “how the other half die”.  

 

The cemetery does have a separate are for pet burials, and there is a memorial to the 104 people who died in the Afriqiyah Airways disaster in Libya on 12 May 2010. There is also a memorial stone to the novelist Bree O’Mara. 

  
 
Then it was “home James” on the highway. Oy! do they think that 4 lanes will solve the traffic problem? bearing in mind the left lane is unusable because of slow trucks, the next one is unusable because of slow trucks overtaking other slow trucks. the right one is unusable because of fools in overpriced car with no manners, so that leaves the third lane, and that always has the “40 kilos below the speed limit” school of thought drivers in it. Wait till the tolls come into effect, its going to be very very interesting.
 
Postscript.
My comment above about “Wait till tolls take effect” is an interesting one. Since the tolls were brought into effect they have proven to be a large white elephant. The refusal by motorists to pay them has been ongoing since then. The fact remains that large portions of money get spent to collect and process the fees with very little actually going to SANRAL who in turn end up having to prop up the company overseas who had a finger in the pie. Add to that the bad publicity, extortion tactics and a poorly managed publicity campaign it has really be a failure. The fact is that no new roads were built, they really just added in an extra lane utilising the emergency lane. Congestion is still rampant, the traffic is just as bad and those smarmy new roads have only really addressed issues that date back to the 1980’s!
 
DRW © 2011-2018. Images recreated 18/03/2016, links recreated 03/03/2018 
Updated: 04/03/2018 — 19:57
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