WHAT would your reaction be if I sighed and said: "Poor
old Sydney -- he's got Hydrovaporosis"?
Ten to one you'd
avert your eyes, furrow your brow, shake your head sadly
and wonder how long the luckless fellow has to live
before the dreadful disease annihilates him.
What a muttonhead!
Hydrovaporosis is actually a useful term to
describe' a man who is crazy about trains end railways -
it means "steam - in the veins". Or
something like that.
It applies to people like Sydney Moir.Sydney's hobby is railways. He
makes model trains, reads about trains and writes about
His first book on trains has just
been distributed, in fact,
and his publishers only handle
books about trains.
Mr Moir, who now lives in Benoni,
was born in Port Elizabeth and completed his education
at Grey High School`` then he went into advertising and
During the war he seared as a
draughtsman in the South African Air Force.
He took night classes at the
Technical College in the city, studying art, commercial
art - and machine design!
After the war he settled on the
Rand and worked as a model-maker for a year before
taking on his present job-that of a titling artist in a
Sydney's first book is called
"Twenty-four Inches Apart" (Oakwood Press) and tells the
often dramatic and always interesting story of the
Cape's narrow-gauge railways.
But before he began this book, he
and a co-author had
already completed another titled "Namib Narrow-gauge",
dealing with the 24-inch gauge lines of South-West
Before it went to
the publishers, the' two writers unearthed additional
facts and the book was held up.
Oakwood Press will
now produce "Namib Narrow-gauge" next year.
At present Sydney
is collecting data for another volume -this time on the
2ft bin railway operated by the Cape Copper Company in
Namaqualand from the 1870s to the 1940s.
Some 600 copies of
"Twenty-four Inches Apart" have already been sold, which
Sydney says is "not bad going for a book of such
The book reminds us
that the Eastern Cape has had - and still has - its very
fair share of narrow-gauge lineage.
Express" line, begun just after the turn of the
century, still operates, between Humewood Road and
Avontuur, a distance of 178 miles-the only one still
operating in the Cape.
Then there was the
old Walmer branch of this line that
carried, passengers between the city and the
intersection of 14th Avenue and Water Road, operating as
many as 22 services a day.
A privately - owned
but government-sponsored narrow, gauge track was also
laid from Knysna to Deepwalls, some 20 miles away in the
dense forests in this area, in 1904.
In 1949 the "South-Western
Railway", as it was known, closed down.
And did you know
that in 1922 a 23-mile stretch of narrow-gauge line was
authorised at a cost of R130,000 between Fort Beaufort
Where the short
Knysna line was needed for timber cartage, the Fort
Beaufort line was built to bring the citrus crop to Fort
Beaufort on the main East London line.
This line was later
extended to Balfour 12 miles from Seymour. In 1939 it
was converted into the present broad-gauge track.