musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Tram

James Hall Museum Of Transport

One of the better museums in Johannesburg is the James Hall  Museum of Transport in La Rochelle in Southern Johannesburg. It is the sort of place that is always worth visiting even if you have been there many times before. The museum was founded in 1964 by the late James “Jimmie” Hall and in conjunction with the Johannesburg City Council. The oldest motorcar on display is a 1900 Clement Panhard, but there are other items that are much older.

I have spent many hours there, meandering through the exhibits and I really enjoy seeing so many vehicles from my past. However, it is very difficult to present a balanced view of the museum because it has so many exhibits, and they are really a feast for the eyes. The museum consists of a number of exhibition spaces. Entry is at the doorway on the image above. This part of the museum does not really interest me because it is really about the days when the petrol engine was but a dream.

From this hall you move into the open courtyard area where many of the vehicles are stored or displayed. This is also where the majority of the traction engines are housed behind a fence. Many exhibits move around within the museum so some of my images show the exhibit where it was at the time and it may no longer be in that position at the time of writing or reading.

This is supposedly the largest collection of traction engine and steam powered vehicles in the country. However, I do not know how many of them can actually run. Many of the exhibits are related to transport in Johannesburg, so you will find the Christmas Bus, travelling Library and a number of ex-council vehicles in this space 

This is also where you can find the toilets and a small refreshment concession. The entrance to the next hall can be found in this courtyard and it leads into the hall where the majority of the exhibits are fire engines. 

This space leads into the blue tinted hall that houses the classic cars and motor cycles from many eras. It is a fascinating space and I remember many of those vehicles from my own childhood.

The door to the outside shed is to the right in this hall, and to the bus hall in the corner on the left of this image. The outside shed is where the agricultural machinery and steam engines are stored. I photographed the steam engines many years ago and their history may be found at old Steam Locomotives in South Africa (4 pages)

You get to the last exhibition space through the motor vehicle space and this hall is used to exhibit buses from various places in three lines. It also has the last tram that ran in Johannesburg. Unfortunately, the nature of the hall precludes effective photography because it is a very narrow space.

The exit to the museum is through this hall (image below)


That is the museum in a nutshell.  Do not take my word for it though, it is an awesome museum and well worth a visit. The museum does not charge for entry but a donation is always helpful, and always check the opening times so that you are not disappointed.

Many years ago the Transvaal Branch of the World Ship Society was given an area to exhibit nauticalia in when they held an open day. There are almost no aircraft or ship related exhibits. All the images in this post were taken at the museum over 4 different visits. 

© DRW 2017-2018. 03/04/2017

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:50

National Tramway Museum at Crich

Yesterday we headed off to the National Tramway Museum, situated at Crich (aka Crich Tramway Village). Situated in Derbyshire, it was not too far away, but not really reachable by train from where I was.  The trams in Johannesburg were removed from service in August 1961 so I did not grow up with them, and the only experience I have had with trams has been in Hong Kong and Kimberley.  This was to be a new experience.
Unfortunately the weather was still gloomy and we had an intermittent drizzle for most of the afternoon. It did not make for good photography. The object on the hill in the photograph above is the Sherwood Forresters Memorial, unfortunately we did not get to that one, but maybe another day?
There were a number of trams running on that day, the track is quite a long one and has a number of passing loops and points in it. A token is used where trams have to use the single line. At any given time there are probably 3 trams somewhere moving in the system.
On the day we were there the following were seen in action:
Glasgow Corporation 812

Glasgow Corporation 812

Glasgow Corporation 1068

Glasgow Corporation 1068

Blackpool 167

Blackpool 167

Metropolitan Electric Tramways 331

Metropolitan Electric Tramways 331

The site has a number of very pretty buildings and artefacts that are museum pieces in themselves.
The Red Lion Pub was particularly impressive, as was this small building which may be associated with the trams, possibly a ticket office or a controller? 
There is also a quirky horse trough,
a period urinal,
and a traditional sweet shoppe.
And a Tardis

The tram shed houses a very large collection of trams from almost all eras, although the horse drawn vehicles are housed in an exhibition hall along with a large collection of other vehicles.

The Johannesburg vehicle is housed in the tramshed, and I missed seeing her originally. Unfortunately, given the nature of the space some trams you can only get poor images of. That was equally true at James Hall Museum of Transport where there are other Johannesburg trams on display. 

Exhibition hall

Exhibition hall

The vehicle is number 60 from 1905. And I believe she is still in a running condition.
The one machine that really caught my eye was the steeple cab locomotive, I have been wanting to see one of these for a long time, and this green example just made my day.


Technically she is not a tram, but a works vehicle, and there are quite a few odd overhead line maintenance vehicles housed in the shed.

The workshop was not open for visitors, but there is a viewing gallery where you can get a glimpse of the work performed by the volunteers to keep these machines running.


Like so many museums and heritage sites, the tramway is staffed by volunteers who keep the wheels turning and the public returning. It is a thankless task, but without them the trams and trains and planes will stop forever.

I traveled on two of the trams and they were comfortable rides too, not as bad as the bone jarring Brill tram I had been on in Kimberley. Tram technology kept apace with the times, but at the end of the day the diesel bus was the winner.  That is not to say that trams have died off completely, they are still used in a number of places, although they are more like “light rail” nowadays. 

One of the real gems at the village is the Bowes-Lyon Bridge. It is a very pretty structure, and while it does look old is surprisingly not that old. It is a good place to do some overhead photography from, but by the time I got to it the day was winding down, and my camera had died on me too.
I thoroughly enjoyed the outing, and of course any opportunity to dabble in this sort of history really has me standing right up front in the queue. The sad part is that when many cities decided to drop trams in favour of buses, large fleets were broken up, or ended up rotting away in some backwater. Occasionally the backwaters would yield a gem and these would be lovingly restored. Many of them are here at the Tramway Museum.
Random Images

There are just so many images that I can use here, but these are really a small selection.

And a great day was had by all. More images of the trams at the museum, as well as trams from Hong Kong and Johannesburg may be found at the gallery page of the Allatsea webpage.

© DRW 2015-2018. Created 04/05/2015. images migrated 29/04/2016

Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:01
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