Syd gets all steamed up about trains - Adam Brand
A journalist's Diary by Adam Brand Syd gets all steamed up about trains - Evening Post - August 8, 1964


This is one of the many interesting illustrations in Mr Moir's book. Do you recognise the scene? It shows the "Apple Express" crossing the Van Stadens Bridge - the highest narrow-gauge bridge in the world. Little actually can be seen of the bridge in this view because the Van Staden's Gorge (about 20 or so miles from Port Elizabeth) is a cleft in the countryside with its true depth quite unapparent till you are right on the brink. Though the little engine is wheeling quite a sizeable load, the bridge could take more for it was built with the possibility of broad-gauge loads in mind.

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 trains.

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 commercial art.

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 film studio.

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 Africa.

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 specialised interest."

The book reminds us that the Eastern Cape has had - and still has - its very fair share of narrow-gauge lineage.

The "Apple 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 and Seymour.

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.