Month: January 2012

Heidelberg Concentration Camp Cemetery

This post ties into the visit I made to Heidelberg in January 2012 but only deals with the Concentration Camp  graves in the Kloof and Camp Cemetery (aka Kampplaas). It is situated just outside Heidelberg and close to the N3 offramp. To be honest, the cemetery and concentration camp graves didn’t really leave much of an impression with me.  
 
The history of the camp may be found at http://www2.lib.uct.ac.za/mss/bccd/Histories/Heidelberg/

heidelberg_camp 005


I was led to believe that the graves were restored before these images were taken so I have no idea what condition they may have been in before.

 
 

The graves are mostly unmarked, and I do not know whether this is the original position of them or whether they are merely symbolic.
There are markers on some of the graves, but many of the markers are illegible after so many years.

I had originally missed the plaque that was on the road outside the camp (I have no idea how I missed it). but detoured to photograph it when I returned to Heidelberg in May 2012

In that visit I concentrated mostly on Kloof Cemetery which is really beautiful.

Between my original visit and this one a memorial wall had been erected with the names of the inmates of the camp that are buried in these two cemeteries.

Again it is difficult to know what graves are of victims, although if they were children and died between 1900 and 1902 the odds are quite large that they were. There are a few mounds amongst the graves and these had been “restored” so I can make the assumption that these were graves associated with the camp.

 
There are a number of scattered graves that do have illegible markers on them, but they are in the minority. In July 1901 measles struck and many of the graves probably belong to the children that died as a result of the epidemic. 
 
The irony is that this cemetery does hold a number of graves of Imperial soldiers who died during the ABW.  
 
There is also a small dedicated Jewish Cemetery at Kloof, and it did make an interesting diversion.
Strangely enough it also has a very fine collection of angels and statues that were worth photographing. There are two very impressive examples that I was amazed to find.
 
Kloof is a wonderful cemetery that holds a lot of history, and is really worth visiting, but it is in dire need of an information plaque that tells a bit more of the history of this site. All of the graves in Kloof have been photographed and may be seen at the relevant eGGSA Library page
 
Random Images of Kloof Cemetery
   
 
   
   
 
DRW © 2012 – 2020. Images recreated 22/03/2016, more images added 30/04/2017, links recreated 04/03/2018

Hello Heidelberg.

I have been planning a trip down to Heidelberg for quite some time. For starters there is an ABW and Concentration Camp Cemetery to see, as well as the long closed Transport Museum that I dealt with in a previous blog entry. And while there are CWGC graves in Heidelberg, they have already been photographed so I didn’t really have anything specific in mind to find gravewise. My plan was to visit 4 cemeteries (Kloof, Camp, Rensburg and Schuins Street), although that was all time and weather dependant.  Naturally the day I went to Heidelberg there was an accident at the Crown Interchange, causing me to have to make a detour, and anybody knows that in JHB that means delays and yet more delays.
 
I finally hit Heidelberg just after 10am. My first destination being the Camp Cemetery (aka Kampplaas). It is situated just outside Heidelberg and close to the N3 offramp. To be honest, the cemetery and concentration camp graves didn’t really leave much of an impression with me.  
 
  
There are more concentration camp victims buried in the Kloof cemetery, but that was last on my list. My next cemetery of call was the Schuins Street Cemetery, which I navigated to using my untrusty GPS. Amazingly I did not end up being sent via Bloemspruit. The cemetery is on a dirt road; on one side is the Muslim Cemetery, and on the other an old African cemetery. Both have CWGC graves in them which means they date from the 1940’s, although I suspect the African cem is much older.
 
The image above is of the Muslim area of the cemetery and it is well tended and orderly.  The African cem is in a poor condition, it is very overgrown and many headstones have been lost or destroyed over the years. It is fenced, but I believe there are even more graves close by in the veld. Again I was faced with the question: what to photograph? there is just so much, but so little is actually legible, so a few panos were taken and I headed off to my next destination: Rensburg Cemetery.
 
I believe that Rensburg was named after a farmer called Van Rensburg, who, during the Boer War, failed to get out of bed to report an incident on the railway lines, so the British authorities burnt his farm and confiscated his livestock, all because he slept late! The cemetery is on the edge of town and isn’t very big, but has a very interesting mix of older graves, but for some strange reason, half of it was cleared of vegetation, while the rest was a madhouse of blackjacks.
 
 
 
Rensburg completed, I headed off to Kloof Cemetery, and of all the cems I visited in Heidelberg, this was the grand old lady. It is a magnificent cemetery, the oldest grave I found being dated 1849, and there is a mix of everything in it, from ABW right through to “modern” graves.
 
The cemetery has an Imperial soldiers plot, as well as a Burghers plot, and there are also camp graves in it; I believe that these are deaths were caused by a measles epidemic and even today the mounds are still visible over 100 years since the deaths occurred.

Imperial war grave plot

I took a lot of photographs in this cemetery, and have added them to the relevant pages on the Eggsa website, but it is worthwhile making a return visit there one day, because hindsight often reminds one of the images that you should have taken but neglected to take.

Heidelberg Burgher Memorial

Heidelberg Burgher Memorial

It was almost time to leave, and on my way out of the town I paused to grab a pic of the magnificent NG Kerk (aka The Klipkerk) that was built in 1890.
 
  
As well as the beautiful old town hall with its elaborate globe fountain out front.
 
 
And a last look down the street, and it was time to go home. 
 
 
Mission accomplished. Heidelberg is a pretty town steeped in history, it is also one of those places that is passed en route to elsewhere, which is really a pity because with a lot of research I am sure there is a lot more to see. The big drawcard is the Transport Museum, if they can get that working again then I am sure rail enthusiasts would be there like a shot.  I had an enjoyable day, and took over 560 photographs, so it was all worthwhile in the end.

I returned to Heidelberg in May 2012 and revisited the old cemetery and a number of other places in the town. Read about that visit here 

 
© DRW 2012-2018. Images recreated and links fixed 22/03/2016, some images added 30/04/2017

Heidelberg Transport Museum

Please note that the images and information in this post are from 2012, I believe that situation at the museum has changed and the museum is now known as the Heidelberg Heritage Museum and one coach is in use as a restaurant. Contact number for the museum is 087-110-1218. 
 
My visit in 2012.
 
On 27 January 2012 I visited the town of Heidelberg in Gauteng to do some gravehunting, My intention was to also visit the transport museum in the town to see what the status was of the railway exhibits in its care. I will not dwell on the history behind the museum, or the events that led to its closure at the end of 2003, that is dealt with by Piet Conradie in his blog. I am just dealing with 27 January 2012. 

The museum is housed in the old station building which originally opened as a station in October 1895 and served as such till 1961. It is a beautiful old building, but in dire need of restoration. The last restoration being done in 1975 when the original transport museum came into being. 

Street side of the station building

Street side of the station building

The railway coaches are housed in a long shed that was erected over the platform area of the station. There are 5 coaches in total, 2 of which are passenger saloons, 2 are dining saloons, and one is a baggage/parcels van. All are painted brown and with the exception of the bag van, are in a very good condition. A steam engine, class 16CR-816 is at the head of the short train in the first row. The first coach behind the locomotive is 1st/2nd class D-15 mainline passenger saloon 1044. This coach is in a beautiful condition inside and so many of the interior fittings are intact.
The 1st class compartments were fitted out with blue upholstery, while 2nd class had green. The coach has a gap in the middle where the corridor crosses to the other side.  This view of a 1st class compartment is taken from the window side, note the reading lamp in the top corner as well as the woodwork in the coach.  The coach still has a feint smell of wood and leather that was unique to the old coaches used on the SAR/SAS. I recall travelling down to Bethlehem in coaches like this when I was young, and they do not compare to the later steel bodied saloons with their Formica and panelling.
 
The images above show a 1st class coupe, as well as the corridor on the first class half. Just imagine standing in that corridor while travelling to your destination. The next coach down the line is the A-18 diner “Liesbeek”, which carries the number 167. She was in service from 1914 till 1976.
Like many of the older dining saloons, half of her is a kitchen and the other half is the dining area, and she is a magnificent example of the pillared dining saloons that we used to have. The demise of the clerestory roof coaches would also be the demise of the pillared diner. Loose chairs tended to be unstable when the train was in motion or coming to a halt, the use of them was discontinued in later diners.
The last coach in the front row is a K-36 baggage/parcel van, number 4233. Unfortunately the exterior of this coach is in a poor condition on the one end. The roof of the platform area did not extend far enough to protect her so she will need a lot of renovation.

Behind this “train” are two more coaches. The coach next to the 16CR is another A-18 pillared diner “Illovo”, number 166, built in 1914. She is a sister to 167 Liesbeek, and is also in a very good condition.

Behind her, and shadowed by a building is a C-16, first class balcony coach 737, built in 1921 by Metropolitan Carriage and Wagon Company in England. She is very dark inside and my camera really struggled to work in her, a torch should be on your agenda if you intend visiting the museum. Like the other passenger coach, she looks very intact on the inside and her compartments and woodwork are beautiful. 


 

The last major piece of rolling stock is the Class 16CR-816. Cosmetically she is in a reasonably good condition because she has been under cover, unfortunately the usual copper theft has robbed her of many of her pipes, and her cabside plate, but her cab is intact.

 

The assistant curator at the museum took me around and was very eager that more people come to visit it so that it can be put back on the map. 

Random Images

 
Special thanks must go to Sipho who showed me around, to Piet Conradie for his excellent blog, and to Carlos Das Neves Vieira for his information about the coaches.
 
DRW ©  2012-2020. Images recreated 22/03/2016, updated 08/04/2019. 12 new images added 08/06/2019