When I first moved out to the West Rand my latent interest in trains became much greater because of the ease with which I could theoretically see them. There were also places to see that had them, and as such I was determined to catch up after so many years in the doldrums. One of the places I really wanted to see was known as the “South African National Rail and Steam Museum” (aka SANRASM) out near Randfontein. Sadly, I caught that organisation at the downturn, when it was being run into the ground through neglect by its moribund committee.
What followed was at least 3 years of frustration as the collection became more derelict and nothing was done. Everything came to a head with the death of the Chamdor Locomotive Site , it took a lot to retrieve the collection from the committee and the funds from the scrapping of Chamdor helped save what there is to see today. It has been a year since work started on rationalising the collection and I have been monitoring work as it has gone forward.
This blog is about “Then and Now”. I am fortunate that I do have reasonably good access to the site and am glad to see that things are being done, I deplore the loss of many of the artifacts that were originally in the collection, but I do understand “why we are where we are today”. Kudos to the team that have been steadily working away at the equipment, its a mammoth task to reverse 10 years of neglect and an exceptionally wet rainy season. However, I am confident that one day I will see this collection become the start of something greater.
Class 14R-1704 in September 2010
Class 14R 1704 in December 2011
Unfortunately, a lot of restoration is cosmetic in nature. These locos have been stolen dry, they will never be able to run again, but that doesn’t mean that they must look bad. Historically Class 19D-2644 is an important loco, and she languished for years, her smokebox obscured by trees. I saw her in June this year and already she was looking better.
Class 19D-2644 Wardale (aka Spooky). before painting
Class 19D-2644 after cosmetic restoration commenced,
Sanrasm had a unique collection of coaches, amongst them were a half balcony diner called “Phantom Pass” which was left to rot, and a much “newer” diner called “Shashi” which was also left to rot. Phantom is in a poor condition but they are working towards stabilising her until it can be decided what to do.
Phantom Pass. September 2010. No work has been done on her in years
Phantom Pass. Cosmetically restored. June 2012
The years of neglect have taken their toll on her and it will be difficult to restore her to her former glory. Restoration would have been so much easier if only somebody had done something years ago! Shashi suffered from severe water damage and her interior is in a very poor condition. However, compared to what she looked like in May 2009.
May 2009. She looked much worse by September 2010
Dec 2011, partly stripped of fittings and undergoing restoration.
It will take a lot of time, but eventually she will be restored. Fortunately she even has her kitchen coach on the site and it is hoped to mate them up together again one day. The kitchen coach suffered water damage and neglect like everything else on the site, but now her roof has been replaced and she is already looking better.
Kitchen Coach. Roof restored.
Amongst the other work that has been done is cosmetic restoration and repainting of 16DA-844.
Class 16DA-844. September 2011
Cosmetic restoration and painting of the Davenport Diesel formerly from North Site.
The Davenport Diesel from North Site. May 2009
The Davenport Diesel from North Site. Dec 2011
Painting of Class 6A-454 as well as Class 6A-473. Not too long ago 454 was still in steam, but she has lost so many fittings over the years that she may never move under her own steam again. 473 has lost her boiler cladding and smokebox front. Nobody could ever explain how that occurred.
Class 6A-454. December 2011.
Class 6A-473. August 2011.
The sad part is, how much was lost. The coaches at North Site that had not been scrapped were all burnt out, and many of the subs from South Site have been donating their wood to preserve what is left behind. I have reams of photographs of what never got this far, and those photographs all point to the person who thought that people would be interested in seeing a lot of rotten and derelict equipment. I am glad to see that the attitude has changed.
The same coach. December 2011.
There is still so much to be done, and with the rainy season upon us there will be even more difficulties, but I live in hope and will return next year to see how things are looking. Hopefully I will see progress again, just as I have seen since last year.
Keep it up Geoff and his team.
Sanrasm exists no longer. The reality is that somewhere along the line (April 2014?), the scrap vultures entered the premises and cut the frames of some of the locos to get at the bearings, rendering the locos irreparable, and only fit for the scrap. Please refer to my post from 10/06/2014
DRW. © 2011-2021. Images recreated 20/03/2016