Category: East Rand

The End of Reefsteamers?

It was with shock that that I read the following this morning. 

=== REEFSTEAMERS – CEASING OF OPERATIONS ===

It is with sadness that I must announce that as of this evening, the Germiston-based Reefsteamers Association NPC will no longer be trading. The Board of Directors have unanimously voted to place Reefsteamers into voluntary liquidation. The depot is closed to visitors and members from 16 Dec Onwards. It is presently under paid 24/7 security courtesy of Sandstone Estates.

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Reefsteamers – Germiston Steam Loco Depot – South Africa

Regular followers of my blogs will know that I was involved with them for a few years before coming to the UK in 2013, I did work as a volunteer for awhile until I had to give it up because of neck problems. I also did quite a bit of line siding and of course loved that class 12AR “Susan” that they had. The irony is that just recently that loco celebrated her 100th birthday too. However, Reefsteamers is not the only heritage operation that has had to shut up shop. Friends of the Rail as well as Atlantic Rail have both shut up shop too, although both are now operating more or less under different organisations. 

The real tragedy behind Reefsteamers closure is not only the loss of skills and knowledge but also the closure of the historic depot in Germiston as well as the collection of steam engines stored there, some of which are privately owned. 

(1500 x 974)

Unfortunately heritage rail in South Africa is an expensive business, especially when you have to deal with Transnet and ever rising cost of operation. Coal and security are major outlays and of course keeping a steam engine working is difficult because many repairs are labour intensive and spares and skills are few.  

(1500 x 456)

I have created two gallery pages showcasing some of what I did photograph when I had access to the depot,  and I hope that the depot and its treasures can be saved, because once we loose the depot it is gone forever.  Use the arrow to access page 1.

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(1500 x 452)

My steam trips with Reefsteamers and Friends of the Rail:

DRW © 2019. Created 15/12/2019


Reefsteamers Gallery (1)

I was fortunate enough to be able to take lots of photographs at the Reefsteamers depot in Germiston, and have quite a collection, taken roughly between April 2009 till Sept 2011. This is the first page of two gallery pages. I have not added in any captions at this stage. One day when I am bored I will do it. 

Enjoy what I have to offer. Use the arrow to access page 2

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DRW © 2019-2020. Created 15/12/2019


Other man’s junk

Continuing where we left off…

There was an awesome collection of collectables and bits and bobs for sale at the event, and naturally these would catch my eye; after all I am somewhat of a collectable bit myself. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) buying some of them would have meant using up the small stash of SA Rands that I had and trying to find space in my suitcase for a slightly used elephant would have been impossible. I could look but not buy.

It is amazing when you think of what can be construed as collectable, and I know I am always on the lookout for retro items, however, many people collect items of a motoring or military nature (to name but a few), and of course there is a gender bias too. The sad reality is that one man’s junk is another man’s collectable.

Toys probably make up a vast genre all of their own

About 2 hours from closing time I went for a stroll in Modderfontein to have a look at the old houses that we passed on our way. I had never really investigated this part of the East Rand before so it is all new to me.

Some of the old houses were spectacular, although most were now occupied by small businesses.

And of course being South Africa palisade fencing, electric fences and barbed wire obscures everything.

And if you are lucky you may even see the Gautrain hurtling back from the airport.

Overall though it is a very pretty area and of course the Jacarandas are in bloom but the grass is bone dry.

I headed back to the meet, ready for round 2 or 3 of my walkaround. Things were definitely getting quieter though, and many of the cars were now taking to the road as people headed home. We still had 2 hours to go though as we were helping one of the stall holders.

Obsolete technology does make up a vast section of collectables, and the demise of “analogue” photography had consigned a lot of camera equipment to the sale tables of history.

The same is true for analogue electrical test equipment. I used to use at least 3 of the items in the collection below.

Being a motoring themed club it was inevitable that motoring related items and tools would also feature in the stuff available to buy.

It is kind of hard to show all the things that interested me and to explain why they did, but here are more.

However, one find that I made should never have been for sale in the first place, and it is a sad indictment of our society and how it has forgotten their forefathers that lost their lives fighting against Nazi tyranny. More information on Gordon Frederick Johnson is available from the South African War Graves Project

And that more or less concludes my look at the past. It is amazing what is out there, you just need to look all around you (and have lots of money too).

DRW © 2019. Created 23/10/2019