My story begins when I moved out to the West Rand and decided to find the much vaunted “South African National Steam and Railway Museum” (aka SANRASM) that was supposedly somewhere near Randfontein. Nobody could really give me any real directions on how to get there so it was a case of hunting for clues. To cut a long story short, by trial and error I finally managed to find the site on a stretch of gravel road somewhere between nowhere and elsewhere. Actually what I found was a fenced compound with high grass and what looked like a lot of wreckage. The compound was locked and a security guard ambled out of his hut to see what I was doing. After some persuasion the friendly security guard gave me the number for the office. The excuse I was given by the office 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! and there was a lot to hide! 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. The images are dated 02/02/2009 according to the exif data, so I am going to use that as the start date of the sanrasm saga. I had no idea at the time what I was seeing and it took a lot of time to gather the collection of images that I have. They are unique images because they show the demise of a collection that was allowed to rot while the members were blissfully unaware of what was happening on the ground.
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 a 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.
To say that I was shocked would be an exaggeration, I was mortified because this was no museum, it was a travesty, and I was hell bent on stirring the fire to see what popped up. I posted my images on a local heritage rail board and then thing started to happen.
© DRW 2009-2018. Retrospectively created 12/06/2019