World of Steam: South Africa

Volume 29: Steam Safari

Over many years, South Africa established an enviable reputation with steam enthusiasts.  Steam usage continued until a relatively late stage, and trains were operated on routes that often ran through attractive scenery.  Add to this widespread industrial steam operation, coupled with a pleasant climate and management that was sympathetic to enthusiasts, and it is easy to see the attraction.


By 2010, when this programme was made, the situation was not so good.  Many locomotives had been mothballed with a view to preservation, but they were generally stored outdoors, were steadily rusting away and were prey to metal thieves, with negligible chance of restoration.  Moreover, Transnet, the state-owned infrastructure company, seemed ever less willing to countenance the operation of steam trains on the national rail system. 


Against this rather depressing backdrop it is good to note that South Africa still has much to offer the enthusiast, and this programme contains striking steam footage taken at many locations, including Friends of the Rail in Pretoria and Reefsteamers in Johannesburg.  Trains were filmed on the open line at Creighton and at nearby Ixopo  in Kwazulu Natal, and we also traverse the narrow gauge Port Elizabeth system westwards as far as Loerie behind an NG15.  Some archive footage of how things “used to be” has also been included


A key development in recent years has been the growth of the Sandstone Heritage Trust near Fouriesburg in the Free State as a preservation centre.  The Trust has acquired a vast collection and is steadily building up a fleet of working steam locos.  A picturesque 26 kilometre “mainline” for the narrow-gauge items offers unrivalled photographic opportunities, and this on its own provides justification for a visit to South Africa. 


This wide-screen production is indexed by menu and lasts for 70 minutes. 


Format DVD-R
Price £18, inc. p & p
Duration Approx. 70 minutes
TV system PAL/SECAM, widescreen
Menu-indexed? Yes

Seeing double! Two "Lawley" 4-4-0s work at the Sandstone Trust.



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The Dawn of Steam: Friends of the Rail, Pretoria

A 19D heads towards Riverside in Kwazulu Natal

Sunrise at Sandstone.

A GMAM Garratt out on the line near Donneybrook.