OFFICIAL NEWSLETTER OF THE PORT ELIZABETH APPLE EXPRESS
Postnet Suite 124, Private Bag 13130, Humewood, Port
|GOOD NEWS – 1
Eastern Cape MEC Thobile Mhlahlo for Road & Transport
made a commitment to the Narrow Gauge when delivering
his Budget vote speech in the Provincial Legislature on
15th March 2007. Extract from speech:- “We have
allocated R10 million for the upgrading of the Narrow
Gauge line (Port Elizabeth – Avontuur) and we intend to
commence the operations in 2008.
This year the Department, in consultation with
relevant stakeholders, including the Department of
Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture, will ensure that we
bring back the Great Train Race to this line”.
This is good news especially in line with the other
article in this newsletter entitled “Station Buildings
|GOOD NEWS – 2
Also following on from the vandalism report, plans and
discussions are underway to provide an inspection pit
for the steam locomotives at the Diesel Depot. An
environmental risk assessment has been done and the site
recommended is alongside the diesel loco maintenance
shed where there is already a shallow pit. It is
sufficient for this pit to be deepened by only one
In the meantime it seems that Spoornet are making moves
to demolish some of the buildings at the steam depot
It has been suggested that the Apple Express retain its
lease on the current station buildings so that if there
is any future upgrade of the site the station complex
would have to be included in the developments. The water
tower and ash pit would be included.
We understand that there is a private developer, who
also being interested in steam preservation, is willing
to put a lot of money into the tourism side of the
train. It appears that all he requires to move forward
is the assurance from Government that the line will
still be operational in the future.
STATION BUILDINGS VANDALISED
During the past year or so the Humewood Road
workshop area has been vandalised to the extent that
the workshop crew have had to move down to the
Diesel Depot and set up shop there. Up until now the
station buildings have escaped the attention of
vandals but unfortunately over the past few weeks
this has changed with vandals targeting the station
toilets and office. All the buildings have been
forced open regardless of the steel grids covering
all the windows and doors. The men’s toilet has had
its wash basin and toilet bowls smashed. The office
has had all its light switches and main power
switch-board stolen, ceiling boards removed
furniture destroyed and trashed. There is no longer
a water supply to the complex as some of the
(plastic) water pipes were ripped apart resulting in
a lot of water wastage before the damage was
As a result of all this carnage various options are
being considered as a departure point in the
The “Apple Tavern” is already being used as a
temporary ticket office on train departure days.
It has also been reported that while the train is
out and the ‘car guard’ who looks after the
passengers vehicles, is able to watch groups of
vandals openly removing items from the area.
The Guard is not able to intervene for fear of his
life. In the past two weeks Spoornet Security and
the Development Agency have made a number of
Recently vandals or crime syndicates removed a
number of large items and used an inspection trolley
to move the items further down the track.
Fortunately an observant train driver taking a load
of timber to the harbour noticed the trolley on the
track and was able to stop in time.
This is a sad time for the Apple Express which, has
since its inception in 1965, seen many happy
departures from the Humewood Road station with its
quaint period style ticket office and buildings.
Because the train has to stand outside the coaches
are at the mercy of the elements which results in
paint work fading, wood rotting and steel panels
rusting. To try and keep the train looking good,
attention to these weather faults has had to take
priority before a another major restoration project
can be undertaken like the recently completed Coach
Currently having a “make over” is coach No.100 which
is nearing completion.
Coach No.100 in the workshop
Welcome to all our new volunteers who have already
put their shoulders to the wheel - Sheila, Lynette,
Kobus & Ronel, Dolf & Gwynneth, Fred & family &
|WHAT’S IN A NAME -
BOG FARM HALT
Travellers on the Apple Express narrow-gauge railway
are often intrigued and amused at the name “Bog
Farm” displayed at one of the halts on the line just
beyond Walmer. (The signboard has recently been
removed. – Ed.) The name arises from the fact that
there really was a bog or marsh on the farm which
once existed near this halt.
A brochure of 1904 put out to promote the sale of
plots for the housing estate of “Springfield” which
was proposed on the farm, states that there was “a
basin to which all the water in this part of the
district seems to converge”. It is here that the
‘Bog’ is, from which the old name of the farm is
derived. “Here are wells and ponds from which water
is lifted and pumped by two windmills and an old oil
engine, through a line of pipes to a brick-built
reservoir near the boundary fence……From which the
water has been distributed to various parts of the
estate……There is no evidence that this water supply
has failed during past years, in spite of many
seasons of extended drought……”
The original owner of Bog Farm was Adam
Guthrie, a former Mayor of Port Elizabeth, who
acquired the land towards the end of the last
century. The farm house, which was demolished as
recently as 1972, was occupied by the farm manager,
Mr John Martin, with his wife and ten children in
1896. The farm was run as a dairy and poultry farm.
Martin Road in Springfield is named after John
The brochure extolling the advantages of the
proposed Springfield Estate shows a picture of the
“lake” surrounded by luxuriant vegetation. The plan
however shows that the lake was a mere 150ft by 50ft
with a smaller pool nearby. It was intended to keep
that area as a ‘water reserve’ to supply the estate,
by means of windmill pumps, with water to be
distributed to the erf-holders by gravitation.
(Extract from “Looking Back”, newsletter of the P.E.
Historical Society – June 1978)
Our best wishes for a swift recovery go to Clive Nel
our coach builder who will shortly undergo major
Boiler tubes for locomotive NG 15 No.119 & 124 have
been ordered and are expected to arrive in May. Once
received, they will be sent to the Mossel Bay
workshops where they will be ‘swaged’. In the
meantime preparation work for the fitting of the
tubes is being done on the Kalahari.
Stalwart Garratt No.131 has had to be taken out of
service because of a cracked and holed fire box.
This is a major repair job which will be undertaken
once a boiler inspector has done an inspection of
the damage. In the meantime the train will be hauled
by diesel power.
NGG 11 No.54 staged at the Humewood diesel depot and
a good prospect for restoration, first arrived at
Humewood Road destined to be used by the then Narrow
Gauge Museum as the motive power for the “Diaz
Express”. This locomotive is unique in that she is
still original, just as she was built by the Beyer
The original order for the Class 11 Garratts was
placed with the Beyer Peacock Co. in 1914. However
the First World War intervened and the locomotives
were only delivered in 1919 and entered service on
the Avontuur line in 1920.
They proved successful and a further order of two
was placed and delivered in 1925. They differed from
the first order in that they were superheated and
incorporated piston valves.
They also had a more protective cab than
the first order. The class NG/G 11 (2 – 6 – 0 + 0 –
6 – 2) locomotives were the first narrow gauge
Garratts used in S.A.
NG/G 11 No.54
Traction effort:- 15 876lbs.
Weight in working order:- 48 tons.
Coal capacity:- 2 ˝ tons
Water capacity:- Rear tank - 380 gals. Front tank -
Beyer Peacock 1919 Locos 51–52–53 1925 Locos 54 –55
RAIL BASED TOURISM
The Eastern Cape Development Corporation will be
funding a high level investigation into the
feasibility of developing a rail based tourism
industry in the Eastern Cape.
The terms of reference for this
investigation has been completed and the project
will be advertised in the next few weeks.
|EXCURSION WITH A
During the month of February a special excursion was
arranged by the Nelson Mandela Development Agency to
Gamtoos Junction via Loerie.
Special guests, Developers, Department of Transport
and Municipality officials enjoyed a showcase day on
the narrow gauge.
Several stops were arranged for the
passengers to see possible tourism opportunities.
After turning at Gamtoos Junction the guests enjoyed
a fabulous finger lunch at the Loerie Station. Our
thanks also go to Spoornet and the MBDA who made
this trip possible.
MANAGEMENT SYSTEM AUDIT REPORT
undergoing a three day compliance and verification
audit by the Railway Safety Regulator the final
report reflects that the Apple Express is fully
compliant with all regulations Extracts from the
“The Apple Express does serve as a role model for
the Railway Tourism Industry”.
“As these operations normally struggle for
survival, the effort they have put into the total
safety of the operation in its entirety is
“The Apple Express is managed and run by a dedicated
team of people”.
CONGRATULATIONS GO TO ALL OUR STAFF, MEMBERS AND
VOLUNTEERS AND SHELTAM WHO HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO
THIS EXCEPTIONAL REPORT.
Thanks to everyone who
submitted articles for this newsletter.