musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: Hobbies and Interests

Scalex Pretoria Castle

It is about time I posted about my newest toy boat. I mentioned her briefly on my other toy boat post some months ago,  and in between then and now I have acquired another one, albeit in a poor condition too.  The images below are of my first boat.

The new boat is missing a funnel, masts and some of the lifeboats. The forward bulwark is also broken and that has damaged the foredeck. However, I suspect this ship may be a newer iteration because it does not suffer as much from the warping of the superstructure like the first one does. The funnel and deck in the foreground come from the 2nd boat and it is badly warped so I will remove the deck area and replace it.  The new funnel has been glued but needs more coats of paint.  

So, I have 2 ships that are in need of work, and sailing, although at the moment our weather is as such that there is a lot of water but no way to access it (that may change as flood warnings are in force for Tewkesbury as of today).

This is the clockwork motor (prop shaft leads off to the right), and is wound though the shaft in the centre of the image which comes up into the funnel. 

You can see a slight colour difference in the 2 ships below, which really supports my theory that the one may be much older. 

I may just repaint one of them in UC colours and leave the other in an assembled stated but unpainted. It’s a lot of hull to paint and I do not feel up to doing it. So, at this moment this is where I am at. Once I get some sun I will take more pics. but till then I will continue to work on them both. I will be honest, I really like this pair, they may be somewhat out of scale and warped and generally quite tatty, but they are wonderfully quirky models and I would have loved to have had one as a child. I believe that they were available in SA, but apart from that information know nothing further. 

Alongside a 1/1250 Albatros model of the Pretoria Castle

The real ship looked like this:

The big flood never happened thankfully, although I did get to try out my new ship in the flooded field where I live. Unfortunately the water was full of grass clippings and they kept jamming the prop. It was also very difficult trying to juggle the ship, camera, string and myself so I gave up quite quickly.

And there you have it, a pair of interesting models from a different era. The real Pretoria Castle was acquired by Safmarine and entered service as SA Oranje in 1966 and she went to the breakers in 1975. The models date from either the 1950’s or mid 1960’s. They are almost as old as I am. 

DRW © 2019. Created 13/06/2019

Updated: 15/06/2019 — 07:08

Onwards to Oxford (2)

Continuing where we left off….

In the previous post I had just arrived in the area of what I hoped was the Radcliffe Camera. That structure is “sited to the south of the Old Bodleian, north of the Church of St Mary the Virgin, and between Brasenose College to the west and All Souls College to the east”. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radcliffe_Camera).

Oxford Martin School

Clarendon Building

The Sheldonian Theatre

However, when I looked on Google Earth I discovered that this was not the Radcliffe Camera but the Sheldonian Theatre! So I have yet another reason for a return trip to Oxford (add the Bridge of Sighs to the list too). The building behind the theatre is the Bodleian Library, and had I investigated that area further would have found what I was looking for! 

I was now in Broad Street and this was where it was possible to find a tour guide assuming you wanted a guided tour. I had forgotten all about it, but at least now I know where it was. The building on the right is Balliol College (I think)

I continued walking down the street because I really needed to confirm where I was in relation to where the station was. I was hoping to find one of those handy street maps but so far hadn’t seen one for awhile.  I really needed a cross street to orientate myself. 

And this one would do nicely.

This is the corner of Cornmarket/Magadalen streets running left to right with George Street between the 2 buildings. On the right hand corner (Magdalen Street) was a small surprise for me. 

This is the churchyard of St Mary Magdalen Church, and I would have liked to do a quick walk around in it but could not find a gate. Besides, the overgrown churchyard did look very peaceful amidst the hustle and bustle around me. 

By my reckoning, following George Street would take me to the station.

George’s Street

There was not a lot to see down here, so I turned left into Cornmarket, hoping to find somewhere that sold batteries. The tower belongs to St Michael’s at the North Gate. 

Ship Street, what an excellent name for a street. The time had now come to head back to George Street and the station so I turned my bows around and off I went. Not too much to see down the street though, apart from one of those handy maps which told me what I already knew. 

The building below is the University of Oxford History Facility,

and this is a portion of the Oxford Canal. I have not worked out how the canal connects to the city, although a lock should be around here somewhere.

And this was where I came in, albeit on the other side of the square and going in the opposite direction. The station was up ahead.

I had 25 minutes to wait for my train though so I decided to stop at the tourist office at the station and buy a map and guide book, but alas the service was appallingly slow, with 2 assistants seemingly never finishing up with the same 2 customers. I left after waiting over 5 minutes because I would have missed my train had I stayed any longer.  

Remember I said there were thousands of cyclists? this is where the bicycles have their nest.

The station is a modern one with 4 platforms and a section where there were was Chiltern Railways stock. 

I had not seen any Chiltern Railways equipment since Birmingham in 2015, so this made a nice change. GWR and Cross Country are all I seem to see nowadays.

And not too long afterwards my own train arrived and I was soon on my way back to Evesham and finally back home by bus. It had been a long day, but quite a fruitful one. Oxford had been fascinating, and I will do a return visit one day.

Oxford is mentioned 13 times in the Domesday Book, and I am only including one entry for it.  

  • HundredHeadington
  • CountyBerkshire / Buckinghamshire / Oxfordshire
  • Total population: 18 households (medium).
  • Total tax assessed: 4 exemption units (medium).
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 4 exemption units.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1066 £2. Value to lord in 1086 £2.
  • Households: 18 villagers.
  • Ploughland: 5 ploughlands (land for). 5 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: Meadow 105 acres. Woodland 8 acres.
  • Lord in 1066: Oxford (St Frideswide), canons of.
  • Lord in 1086: Oxford (St Frideswide), canons of.
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086: Oxford (St Frideswide), canons of.

(Domesday Book images are available under the CC-BY-SA licence, and are credited to Professor John Palmer and George Slater )

There is too much that I have not seen and I have subsequently discovered a cemetery and a memorial that I missed on top of the other odds and ends I have listed. It is probable I will find even more to see now that I know a bit about the place. Parts of the city are very beautiful, but I am not sure I would be able to afford to live there however  I too can boast that I have been to Oxford, but I won’t mention what it was for.

More Random Images. 

DRW  © 2019. Created 25/05/2019. (Domesday Book images are available under the CC-BY-SA licence, and are credited to Professor John Palmer and George Slater )

Updated: 27/05/2019 — 09:11

Onwards to Oxford (1)

In years to come I will be able to boast that I went to Oxford, although not to be educated, but more to have a look around, I had the idea awhile ago, but the logistics were somewhat beyond me, however, once I started to explore Evesham it became obvious that there were other places within reach from the station there. It is an alternative way to get to London too, although the biggest downfall is that you can only travel by train after 9.00 am because the earliest bus only gets there at 8.35. You also have to make sure that you are on that last bus at 17.55 or you will end up spending the night! Like Tewkesbury the transport options are limiting factors for any day trip. The train originates in Hereford, passing through Worcester then onto Evesham so theoretically it is possible to get to Oxford from Worcester, but again getting to and from Worcester can be problematic. 

Anyway, I thought long and hard about this and with a long weekend in the offing and some semi decent weather I decided to do a day trip. I had 3 options: The tall ships at Gloucester, Evesham Vale Light Railway, or Oxford. I decided on Thursday evening to head to the last of the three and bought a ticket online and almost immediately started to chicken out! In order to get a bus back I really could expend roughly 3 hours in the city, which may not be enough considering how much there is to see there! Come Saturday morning and I was still not in the mood, but I had the tickets, the weather was reasonable, and it was now or never! Onwards to Oxford!

The limitations: 

Time was the most crucial, the weather ranged from overcast to semi cloudy to sunny. It changed all the time so image quality has suffered. Large buildings and no way to get far away enough from them. Vehicular and people traffic.

Evesham Station is 5 minutes walk from the bus stop, and is really quite an unimpressive station and I believe the passengers loads from here are falling. 

The line to London heads off to the left hand side and the train leaves from Platform 2. Talk of the devil and there it is now! The familiar HST’s  have been withdrawn from GWR service now and all we get are these smarmy class 800’s now. They are comfortable though, but they lack that “Made in England” originality  of the HST’s.

The route runs from Evesham, Honeybourne, Moreton-in-Marsh, Kingham, Shipton, Ascott-under-Wychwod, Charlbury, Finstock, Combe, Hanborough and finally Oxford and It takes just under an hour to get there.

Entrance to station

City Map of Oxford (1009×599)

I had a rough idea of where I wanted to go, although plans were liable to change at any point. I wanted to do a rough lozenge shaped walk starting at Park End Rd into New Rd, High Street and turning into Queen Street and taking in the Radcliffe Camera, Bridge of Sighs and anything inbetween, then continuing down Broad Street into Hythe Bridge Street and back to the station. I had marked off where the war memorial was as well as Christ Church Cathedral as possible detours. 

At this time of the morning (roughly 10H40) the area I was in was reasonably quiet, but do not be fooled because chaos was coming.

My plans were to really follow this road to the spire in the distance and I think this is Frideswide Square (38 on the map). My next point of reference was Castlemill Stream that crosses under the road that changes its name to New Road. This stream is a branch of the Thames.

My next landmark was what is known as “Oxford Castle Mound” and it is part of the remains of the former Oxford Castle.  This would have been where the keep and motte were. Behind this was St George’s Tower and chapel as well as the Oxford Prison. This area is in my list for a return visit.

Next to the mound was another building which I assumed was part of the castle, but it is actually the former County Hall dating from 1841. 

Turning around the view behind me was as follows:

From what I can see that tower is part of Nuffield College

Continuing my walk I came to the war memorial, and it was disappointing. However this is not the main war memorial in the town as this commemorates men of the 2nd Battalion of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry who lost their lives between 15/08/1897 and 04/11/1898. It is known as the Tirah Memorial and is the first war memorial ever erected in Oxford. 

Continuing onwards into the High Street area it was becoming increasingly more crowded and difficult to navigate through the growing throng.

The structure below on the left is known as the Carfax Tower, It is all that remains of the 12th-century St Martin’s Church. Carfax is at the junction of St Aldate’s (south), Cornmarket Street (north), Queen Street (west) and the High Street (east) and it is considered to be the centre of the city.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carfax,_Oxford) . 

At this point I made a detour as I was in the vicinity of Christ Church Cathedral and headed into that direction. Unfortunately photography was incredibly difficult as the street was a bus thoroughfare and the pavements were packed.  

Central Oxford (Carfax area with Cathedral in lower left corner) 1024×977

I will be honest though, I did not see the cathedral, this large building is not it, although is part of it and I could not see much beyond the gate (which was not open to the public) due to the selfie squad. 

All I was able to see was this small glimpse across the centre of the space and I believe it belongs to the cathedral. I will have to investigate this area in the future though, but not on this day. 

In the image below I was standing at the Tom Tower looking across the Tom Quad. 

I turned around and headed back towards Carfax and High Street. 

Turning into High Street I continued walking and the view became increasing more elaborate and old, and I will be honest I probably cannot identify most of what I was seeing; neither could I fit most of it into my camera lens. The never ending stream of buses complicated matters considerably as they would stop and hordes of people would suddenly erupt out of them almost engulfing you. It was a major problem and I almost collided with a number of cellphone absorbed pedestrians on top of it. 

I believe the building above is Brasenose College. and in my original navigation I had intended turning left into Catte Street and onwards to the Radcliffe Camera, but ended up continuing past it. towards The Queens College. The spire below belongs to “The University Church of St Mary the Virgin University College” with All Soul’s College further along.

 

All Soul’s College

Magdalen College

I eventually made my left turn in Longwall Street, and it was literally a long wall on the right hand side of the street. There appears to be a deer park on the other side of the wall, but I could not see over it to check.  

This was quite a winding road too and I hoped there was a handy exit somewhere which would get me back on track. Time was marching and soon I would need to make a decision about my plans in the next 45 minutes.

This is Holywell Street and I headed down it. Fortunately no buses seemed to be allowed here so it was technically safe to walk in as long as you didn’t get run over by a cyclist (there are thousands of them in Oxford too).

For some reason or other I think this is part of “New College” but cannot confirm it as I did not photograph the sign. However, a helpful porter pointed me in the direction I needed to go in to get to the Radcliffe Camera and it was close by too.

At this point I am going to pause and start a new page as there is still quite a lot to see onwards and I need to add in some random images to this page. You can turn the page here.

forwardbut

Random Images.

DRW © 2019. Created 25/05/2019

Updated: 26/05/2019 — 07:00

No milk today

When I was young (last century some time ago) fresh milk or orange juice was delivered in bottles to our houses.  You left your empty bottle on the gatepost or at your door with coupons inside it and voilà, a milk float or truck would come along and exchange it for a new bottle. The milk would have a layer of cream on it it and the juice was not made with apples! Our local dairy was NCD (National Co-Operative Dairies?) and their HQ was somewhere near where we lived. 

Like everything else the prices kept on rising’ forcing people to buy less milk which meant less profits which meant higher prices ad nauseum. At some point milk deliveries stopped and we then started to buy our milk at the supermarket, although when we lived in one area there used to be a depot where you could buy milk too. 

When I arrived in the UK in 2013 I was surprised to see that you could get milk delivered in bottles to where you lived, although it does not seem to be in all cities. Which is what brings me to the real object of this post which is: milk floats. These strange electric vehicles are quite rare nowadays but you do see them occasionally, and of course being electric you do not hear them coming although the rattle of milk bottles is a dead give-away. 

Where I live is a dairy, and they operated milk floats for a number of years, and in 2018 they had two of them on display at the Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival.

I have never seen the bottom one around town so I don’t know whether it is in service or not, after all, like so many others I get my milk at the local supermarket, although it must have been quite a surprise to have something like the bike below on the milk run.

Unfortunately the milk float is quite a rare beastie, and they were probably amongst the more common electric vehicles around way back then, although the float probably carried its own weight in batteries and I doubt whether the mileage was very high, but given the stop-start nature of its service they probably made more sense than a conventional petrol or diesel engined vehicle.

Where did they all go to? there is a scrap one up the road from where I stay, and it has never been in a position where I could get a decent pic of it, until recently.



I cannot put a date to when this float was in service, but you can bet it was a long time ago. I hope that they restore this oldie and put it in a museum; after all these are almost extinct, just like the glass milk bottle and the fresh orange juice of my childhood.

DRW © 2019. Created 22/05/2019

Updated: 08/06/2019 — 20:52

Cool sighting of the day

Occasionally we vintage cars passing through town and sometimes they stop so I can get a pic (or 3). Today I spotted what turned out to be a Stoneleigh Chummy 4 Season from 1924.

It is not the first time I have seen this particular vehicle, but the first time I have managed to get pics of it.

There is not a lot about these vehicles out there, and at the moment all I can really say is that Stoneleigh was made by Armstrong Siddeley. Hopefully at some point I will find more info. They certainly do not make them like that anymore. 

And while rooting through my pics for another post I found the following information sheet:

Special thanks to the owner of this rare beauty, thanks for preserving her for us to enjoy so many years after she was built. 

DRW © 2019. Created 19/05/2019

Updated: 22/05/2019 — 05:55

Armour in the Abbey

The “Armour” referred to in this post is not of the tracked vehicle type, but rather it is about men with swords, helmets and armour, (not too be confused with the Knights who say Ni!). This is the first time I have heard of the event but it is possible that it was held on previous years but I never went to it. At any rate, more information may be had at http://www.tewkesburymedievaltown.uk/tewkesbury-armour-in-the-abbey/index.htm.

I went on the first day of the event (Sunday) but it is also open tomorrow on the bank holiday and I expect it will be much busier then. Every year Tewkesbury holds a Medieval Festival so I have seen some of this stuff before, but it is always nice to go out and see the people who really put so much into events like this. Unfortunately there was not much to see, but it was interesting nevertheless.  The event was held in the Abbey Garden, and entrance was through the original Medieval Gate.  

The image above dates from 2015 and it was one of the rare instances of being able to photograph the gate without stacks of cars parked in front of it. I did visit the interior of the building some time in 2018 but did not post the images of it. The weather was not as sunny on this day, it was overcast and not too warm either. 

Inside the area were a few tents set up and a small roped off arena and lots of people in shining armour. There was also a canon….  I had seen this beauty at the festival in 2017, and the gun is called “Belle” and was being operated by “the Kynges Ordynaunce”.

Apparently the wheels of the carriage are the really the hardest to manufacture and not the gun (which was made in Holland). 

I looked around a bit more, hoping for some definitive shots that could convey what some of the items looked like. It is however quite strange to see the mingling of re-enactors in costume talking to people in 2019 civvies, or to spot a knight making a call on his cellphone.  There were period tents set up around a roped off space and this was where some of the action was going to happen.

(1500 x 573)

I believe this was the King’s tent, but I didn’t ask just in case he roped me in on his side. I am strictly neutral in these matters and don’t take sides. This year will see the 548th Anniversary of the Battle of Tewkesbury which will be celebrated on Monday (while we are all at work!)

There was also a very impressive horse having a snack to one side. He was also here to be made used to the loud bangs that the canon would make; very important if he is to be used in a makeshift battle.

Off to one side was another roped off arena where they were having a demonstration on the famous Longbow that the English archers were so effective with.

I believe a well trained archer could fire off 7 arrows a minute, whereas a combatant armed with a primitive firearm could take as long as a minute to reload his muzzle loading weapon. 

I am sure the combatants that had to wear the armour were glad that it was not a terribly hot day, or that the sun was warming the metal hot enough to fry eggs off.

The canon was trundled across to where the archers were and set up. One of the red coated gun crew then explained a bit about the weapon and the advantages and disadvantages of the early canon. This particular weapon is a muzzle loader, and the well drilled team soon had it ready to fire. I do have video of the gun firing and will upload it to my Youtube channel at some point. 

It is quite loud though and there were a few spooked children walking around with their hands over their ears.  

Then it was back to the other roped off area where there was a melee between two armoured men. 

The dude in blue won that one.

And then there was a four way melee, one of the occupants being “The King” (accompanied by shouts of “The YORK”). This one was quite quite hectic and the King bore the brunt of the attacks. 

It was all in good fun though, but was evidently hard work as the combatants were drenched by the time all was done and dusted. 

It was time for me to make tracks as I didn’t have much more to see. The more interesting events would be happening tomorrow much to my dismay. The Medieval Festival for 2019 happens on the 13th and 14 of July, and that could be worth attending. Until then here are some random images. Special thanks must go to those who took the time and effort to put on this small glimpse into the past.

DRW © 2019. Created 05/05/2019

Updated: 06/05/2019 — 16:25

Overbury and out

In October 2018 I visited the village of Overbury as part of my village tour. I had really stopped there to photograph the War Memorial; however the legibility of the memorial is poor due to wear on the stone plaques and base. I did notice a newish screenwall structure in the churchyard, and on a trip through to Evesham saw a stone mason at work on the wall. Could it be they were reproducing the war memorial names onto the screenwall? There was only one way to find out and that was to head out and see for myself. I had to leave enough time for the work to be completed though and as a result I only tackled this visit in 2019.

The image above shows the lychgate of St Faith’s, Overbury. The central plinth has the plaques on either side of it.  The new structure is shown below.

Unfortunately my supposition was wrong and it does not have the Roll of Honour on it, but a list of names of those who may be buried here or who were cremated, with their ashes interred at this spot. There went my theory down the pipes.  I now had anything of up to an hour to spend while waiting for my bus onwards to Evesham. The next hamlet on the road is Conderton, but it is too far to walk to and look around in such a short space of time so I remained in Overbury. I had photographed quite a bit of it in 2018, so I really wanted to add to those images. 

St Faith’s, Overbury

Behind St Faith’s is Overbury Court, a Georgian house dating from 1740. It is privately owned so I did not try for a photograph of it. The gate is in the lane next to the church.

There were too many comings and goings in the lane so I did not even attempt a peek through the railings. But the house has extensive gardens and it is a very picturesque area. You can see part of the roof of the house in the image below.

Heading back towards the bus shelter, I looked left and right and didn’t cross the street.

Looking right (towards Kemerton/Bredon)

You may think that these rural roads are quiet but it was a regular hustle and bustle which was made worse by the narrow roads, parked vehicles, the occasional tractor, horses and delivery vans.

The bus shelter (route towards Tewkesbury)

Possibly the village hall. The window is inscribed “Erected by Robert Martin in the year 1896”

I walked for awhile, enjoying the countryside and the horses having an early breakfast. 

(1500 x 506)

There was also the village cricket pitch for those who have 5 days to spare.

Cricket pitch pavilion

(1500 x 501) The cricket pitch

Dare I say “Howzat?”

This is the road looking back towards Overbury, the building on the left is a pub and the building on the right may have once been a tollgate/booth given how the window impinges onto the road. 

The road to Conderton

(1500 x 533)

Overbury Church Of England First School

The village shop and post office

My mission was accomplished. Had I planned it slightly better I probably would have been able to visit Conderton too, but my planning was not great and I had limited time available to get a bus. I wanted to visit Evesham after this so really had to get on the road. Look, there is my bus, I must go… 

DRW © 2019. Created 30/04/2019

Updated: 04/05/2019 — 08:09

A brief burst of pink

Last week I posted about Spring and one of the images was of an ornamental cherry tree (aka “Sakura“) that was flowering. I had never seen any of these until I came to the UK, and this seemingly normal tree shows its true colours when Spring finally comes around. 

The clusters of pink blossoms are very beautiful, and I really look forward to seeing them probably because the sakura is a very common theme in anime. It pops up in many of the series I watch and I am currently reading a fanfiction about Clannad, where one of the characters is intent on becoming the student council president so that she can save the sakura that are due to be cut down. It does sound corny but the Japanese do hold the sakura in esteem. 

Today when I came home the tree was loosing its blossoms and the area underneath it was becoming a pink carpet as the blossoms fell.

The wind was clustering the many petals into hollows in the road and the drizzle ensured that they stayed there, it was really something to see. By next week the sakura will be back to its normal summer foliage and the cycle of rebirth will start again. Such are the ways of nature.

Of course it is not only the Sakura blossoming, but every other tree that is capable of producing blossoms has done so. This beauty was close to where I work.

In South Africa we have a similar situation with Jacaranda trees. These were planted in the pavements of Johannesburg and Pretoria probably during the 40’s or 50’s and every year they undergo a similar burst of colour as they bloom and then loose their blossoms, coating the area underneath them in a carpet of purple. 

You can really see the effect in the image I took on Northcliffe Ridge a few years back.

Jacarandas in the Northcliffe/Fairlands area (1500 x 811)

Trees really can surprise one, we live with them all around us, and generally do not pay too much notice of them except when they undergo change; loosing leaves, blossoming or falling down are all part of the life cycle of a tree. Their advanced age is interesting because many of them outlive us, and some survive for centuries. The world would be a boring place without them, so hug a tree today. 

DRW © 2019. Created 25/04/2019

Updated: 27/04/2019 — 07:09

Remembering the Titanic 2019

Every year in mid April we commemorate the loss of the Titanic.  It is a well known story that has been analysed, filmed, written about, speculated on and done to death. My own interest in the ship came about when I read about the spot where she had gone down, that ships avoided for fear of encountering bodies. In later years I would raid the local libraries for books about the ship and try my best to obtain a model of her.  I have however lost my interest in the ship and now concern myself with other things because realisically there is not much more that I can add to the story of the ship and its people.

The last interesting discovery that I made was in Liverpool where the Transatlantic trade was dominated by the Mauretania and her sister. Titanic and her sisters would not use that city as a base, but rather use Southampton. However, Titanic was registered in Liverpool and there is a memorial to her in that city. 

The memorial commemorates the 244 engineers who lost their lives in the disaster. It was designed by Sir William Goscombe John and constructed circa 1916 and is a Grade II* listed building.

The memorial is inscribed:

IN HONOUR OF

ALL HEROES OF THE

MARINE ENGINE ROOM

THIS MEMORIAL WAS ERECTED

BY INTERNATIONAL INSCRIPTION

MCMXVI 

and

THE BRAVE DO NOT DIE

THEIR DEEDS LIVE FOREVER

AND CALL UPON US

TO EMULATE THEIR COURAGE

AND DEVOTION TO DUTY

More images of the memorial are available on the relevant page at Allatsea

While it is easy to remember the passengers who lost their lives in the disaster; the crew tend to get forgotten, especially the men who remained at their posts right up till the end. Irrespective though, over 1500 people lost their lives on this day in 1912 in a disaster that has somehow become the “poster boy” for maritime disasters, and the only North Atlantic liner that almost everybody knows about. 

DRW © 2019. Created 15/04/2019

Updated: 15/04/2019 — 05:59

Retrospective: By train to Magaliesburg 12AR-1535

One of the more obscure centenary celebrations coming up is that of 12AR-1535 “Susan”. This steam engine is the only remaining member of the SAR Class 12AR in the world, as well as being Reefsteamers’ oldest operating locomotive and the second oldest operating main line locomotive in South Africa.  
She was built in 1919 by the North British Locomotive Works in Glasgow and joined her sisters in South Africa for service on the Germiston-Witbank line moving heavy trainloads of coal. She first entered traffic on 15 March 1920. The sisters were all reboilered at some point in their lives, and 1535 was reboilered in 1944, although her existing boiler was commissioned in 1955. 

Boiler plate of 1535

I first encountered her in 1985 when I was posted to the Germiston Telecommunications Depot. At the time she was the “station pilot” for Germiston Station, and she shone so much that she could blind you in the sun. She never really retired from service and was not restored from scrap or in a derelict condition. Fortunately her original service in Germiston means that she is really back home in the depot where she worked for so many years. I have a soft spot for her and enjoyed linesiding this small wheeled “4-8-2 Mountain” as she spent her retirement running heritage train for Reefsteamers. 
According to the EXIF data on the image below, Susan was brought back into steam on 28 March 2009 and I was present for a photography session with the people who had walked with her to that point.

(1500×1092). Back in steam. 28/03/2009

You can read more about her history on the relevant Reefsteamers page. Special thanks for Lee Gates for his work on that page and his continued posts on social media. 
 
It is not very often (especially in South Africa) that a steam working steam engine reaches her centenary, and with this in mind I am reposting the blogpost about the trip I did 10 years ago on 4 April 2019.  

By train to Magaliesburg. 12AR-1535

I got the opportunity to travel with Susan on 4 April 2009 from Maraisburg Station to Magaliesburg. The same consist as before was used and the schedule was almost identical to my previous trip with Elize. Some of the images used here were taken linesiding or when I intercepted other trips at Magaliesburg.


The two images above were taken on another trip that she made on 27 April 2009, I would definitely not stand here taking pics if I had been travelling on the train.
 
And then we were off,  eventually passing through Roodepoort Station where the plinthed 10BR slowly moulders away in the parking lot.

Through to Krugersdorp where we could pick up any passengers that had wanted to join there,

Past Millsite and the rows of derelicts that were not as fortunate as Susan was, and any goods wagons that were being shunted, 

and then past the disgrace that was Sanrasm.

And once that was past you could really relax and enjoy the ride for awhile and listen to the loco in front. At some point you would start the long climb towards the grain silos,

and then power along towards the end destination,
although the cutting really was the first sign that we had almost arrived.

This time around I had opted for lunch at the hotel, but I did not bail out there, but hung around at the station for awhile to watch them turn Susan. 

 

I then had to make a mad dash down the hill for my belated lunch at the hotel.
 
Arriving back suitably satiated, I discovered that Susan had been turned and was now on the opposite end of the train in readiness for our trip back.

And as usual, there was brightwork to be polished. These preserved loco’s are always turned out very well because they showcase our proud steam heritage. Susan, as station pilot in Germiston, was always in a supershine condition, there was a lot of pride in these machines, and that is still true today.

The sitters were empty as the passengers did their thing at the picnic area, quite a few were already tanked up before we arrived and they would sleep the return journey away. 
The passing of some Class 34’s really provided a photo opportunity, although I know which is the more handsome engine out of all those in Magaliesburg on that day.
Then the passengers were roused and the whistle blew and we were off, pausing at the hotel to collect a few more errant people before attempting the level crossing on our way out of the town. 
In 2011 I was in the area and stood at the level crossing watching this spirited departure which is available on Youtube, and it amazed me how even though the loco had started moving drivers still try to get across in front of her! You do not tackle a steam engine with a car because you will loose. 
Unfortunately though we literally crawled through the cutting and the hills, and I asked some of the guys why this had happened, and it turned out that the coal was of poor quality so she was really struggling. Susan is a freight loco with lots of power, but even poor coal can turn a steamer into a snail. I did take some video of the climb and pullaway, so all is not lost
 
And even today people wave at steam engines going past, because it is just something that is done. I feel sorry for those who have never experienced steam trains because they have lost a little bit of magic. Fortunately most people opted to relax on the trip home, and the kids stopped with the “pooop pooop” imitations and I was able to get some peace. I was not really in a mood to take too many pics, besides, everything you see here is very similar to what you saw in the other trip post. 
Even the desolate landscape that we passed just after Millsite was devoid of life, but then that area has been ravaged by mining and will take many years to rehabilitate, assuming that even happens in the first place.
And eventually we were home. The sun was low on the horizon and the people who climbed off were much more subdued than those that had climbed on this morning. Even Susan seemed tired, and she still had a long way to go before she could be bedded down for the night,
 
 
 More video: 
 
DRW © 2009-2019 Created 04/04/2009. images recreated 07/03/2016, edited and reposted as a retrospect on 04/04/2019
Updated: 07/04/2019 — 13:05
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