1991 - 14.12.2019

Reefsteamers News


Good Day Friends of steam, Rail Preservation and Reefsteamers

Reefsteamers depot is appealing for donations for new light bulbs for the workshop area.  Some of you may remember donating about 6 years ago for the same project.  Yes they have lasted that long with all the long hours of use!

The lights help deter the 'honest' thief as they help light up the workshop area at night and on days like today when our trusty staff are working away on general repairs and maintenance to our rolling stock and locomotives before we have our next train trip they come in handy.

Please see the attached letter from our engineering director which includes the banking details.  Please send all proof of payments to


Kind regards
Shaun Ackerman
Engineering Director, Reefsteamers Association (NPC)



    At de Necker – Springs 


Ontmoet vir Susan en At – die oudste lokomotief en stoomlokomotiefdrywer in die land

Meet Susan and At - the oldest locomotive and steam locomotive driver in the country.

At de Necker

Gewoon Ongewoon is ’n viering van dít wat ons Suid-Afrikaans en Afrikaans maak. Dit is stories van mense wat die lewensbloed van kykNET is; die kykers. Hulle vertel ons hulle stories in al hulle wonderlike verskeidenheid, diversiteit, tekstuur, klank en kleur. Dit is merkwaardige, vreemde,  anderste, uitsonderlike en buitengewone stories van mense van reg oor die land. Hierdie is te viering van kykers – Gewoon Ongewoon!
At de Necker is op 80 die oudste stoomlokomotiefdrywer in die land. Saam met Susan, die oudste lokomotief, pak hulle die lang treinspore aan saam met die stoomliefhebbers van Reefsteamers. At het nou sy drywerspet opgehang, maar die liefde vir stoomtreine sal hom nooit verlaat nie.

Simple Unusual is a celebration of what makes us South African and Afrikaans. These are stories of people who are the life blood of kykNET; the viewers. They tell us their stories in all their wonderful variety, diversity, texture, sound and color. These are remarkable, strange, different, extraordinary and extraordinary stories of people from all over the country. This is to celebrate viewers - Just Unusual!
At 80, At de Necker is the oldest steam locomotive driver in the country. Together with Susan, the oldest locomotive, they tackle the long train tracks along with the Reef team steamers. At has now hung his driver's cap, but the love of steam trains will never leave him.


Impressions of the First Reefsteamers Heidelberg Steam Train

Photos Copyright Ian Morison and Neil Joseph Bennett


First steam train to reach town in more than a decade

usan’s 100 year celebrations will continue in Heidelberg tomorrow as she is set to arrive at Heidelberg Heritage Museum at 10:00.  But just how many 100-year-olds are out there these days? In 2012, the United Nations estimated that there were 316,600 living centenarians worldwide. This is a very rare thing. If you consider 316,600/8 billion people.

“Well, we are able to say that Susan is a very elegant and a proud lady. Although she is not human, she has been serving the South African public with grace and beauty for the past 100 years,” the Reefsteamers said in a statement, an NPO dedicated to the preservation and care of steam locomotives since 1995.

The Susan in question is a class 12AR Steam locomotive that is now in the care of Reefsteamers.

Susan arrived in South Africa in 1919 as part of the first batch of 20 locomotives bought by the SAR from the North British Locomotive Company (NBL) in Scotland. Susan and her sister were supposed to be able to handle bigger and heavier loads than the locomotives of the day.

“Our grand old lady has the triple distinction of being the last surviving Class 12AR, Reefsteamers’ oldest operating locomotive and the second oldest operating mainline locomotive in South Africa,” the organisation said.

Susan was restored to steam in 2009 and has become Jozi’s favourite steam train. Since then she has brought an enormous amount of pleasure to old and young. If you spot her in town tomorrow, do send us your photos!

For more information or to book a ticked visit


Steam locomotives scheduled to return to Heidelberg

  Massive tourism boost on the cards

Heidelberg residents can brace themselves for an unprecedented influx of tourists after Reefsteamers chairman Clive Holiday confirmed that a steam train carrying up to 350 passengers will be stopping at the Heidelberg Heritage Museum at the end of April.

This will be the first time since the late 90s that a mighty steam engine will make its way to Heidelberg.

Holiday said that following lengthy negotiations, Reefsteamers were granted permission by Transnet to make use of the railway lines from Johannesburg, adding that they had also received the blessing of the Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom who visited the newly refurbished station last month.

“The steam train will depart from Germiston and pick up passengers at Johannesburg’s Park Station before proceeding to Heidelberg,” Holiday confirmed.
“We are hoping to book the train trip for April 27. Tickets and more information will be made available on our website shortly.”

Also read Besigheidskamer besoek Heidelberg Heritage Museum

It takes approximately one hour for the steam locomotive to reach Heidelberg and once the passengers arrive here, they will be entertained at the Heidelberg Heritage Museum which boasts an all new train themed restaurant, craft beer brewery and a tourism information centre.

According to local entrepreneur and driving force of the newly established museum, Bouwe Wiersma, the challenge now lies with Heidelberg residents and businesses to ensure that the tourists have something to do once they reach their destination.

“We would like to encourage all businesses and tour operators to get involved in the marketing of Heidelberg,” said Wiersma who is hoping that various alternate activities/tours would be arranged in advance of this new chapter in the history of Heidelberg’s tourism industry.

Residents who would like to get involved can phone Wiersma on 082 671 6595.

Ticketing information for the steam train ride will be available at shortly.


Susan, the 100 Year old lady is back on the rails. Ready for the next 100 Years on South African Rails


!!Reefsteamers launches a new Steam Train Destination in Gauteng!!
Come along with us on board the NEW Heidelberg Wanderer from Johannesburg on a 48 km journey through breathtaking farmlands and countryside to the border of Gauteng and Mpumalanga. Enjoy a day out at Heidelberg! One of South Africa's most interesting towns. Steeped in history, this town, at the foot of the Suikerbosrand, once acted as a capital during the Anglo Boer War. Relax and enjoy the time at the Heidelberg Heritage Museum with its Culinary Express and the Heidelberg Brewhouse.


Reefsteamers has decided to suspend all train trips to Magaliesburg.  The decision was not an easy one as this has been an outing run for over 30 years.   Reefsteamers will still be offering you amazing fun Steam trains: have a look at our timetable for the different trains we operate: Timetable


Reefsteamers needs you

Dear Reefsteamers and Friends of Steam,

A worrying trend has been the shrinkage of the number of people busy in the Reefsteamers Workshops on Saturdays.  We have dwindled down to sometimes only three or four people being present for a workday.

With the current low numbers of willing hands, we can just about keep up with the maintenance of the rolling stock and one locomotive in-steam to keep our trains safe and reliable.  We are hamstrung in terms of taking on new projects.   We are struggling to keep up with maintenance and improvements for the depot facilities.  We are constantly having to beg for footplate crews, trainees, fire lighters, loco-minders and coach staff.

The Class 15CA 2056 locomotive which was planned to be running by the end of this year has been badly delayed due to lack of hands.  We also urgently need to work on converting spare coaches into Day Sitters to replace three coaches that we lost in a yard fire early on this year.  We are consistently losing potential revenue with the lack of seating capacity that we now endure.

We do understand that Reefsteamers asks a lot.  But running steam-hauled trains is a labour-intensive task by nature.  Even more so when you consider the high standards of engineering, safety and operations to which Reefsteamers abide.   Although it is a hobby (some would say a calling), we still have to abide by time tables, logistics and safety standards. We cannot just put Reefsteamers away under a dust cloth like a model train set when it suits us, as there are bills to be paid monthly and rust never sleeps.

We have a huge old depot that was abandoned and partially demolished over 25 years ago.  While the surviving railway tracks and cavernous old sheds are wonderful to have, they need a lot of maintenance and improvements.  We are also sending out a locomotive nearly 100 years old on regular 180km plus round trips – she needs looking after!

Please don’t make the assumption that there will ‘always be another train’ and I can get involved later when I’m not so busy.

There might not always be another train!

The worsening economic climate means we need to be more efficient, more creative and proactive in making the best of our resources and capturing the dwindling leisure market … very difficult with only a few people.  Failure to do so will result in the eventual closure of Reefsteamers.

It isn’t all gloom and doom though.

After some years of poor financial management, we ended up with a monstrous debt to pay off.  We nearly lost Reefsteamers as a result.  But we’re still here after sticking to a recovery plan, but the financial restrictions thereof cost us about five years of progress.  Not only have we wrestled that debt down to size, we have achieved getting the 15M Workshops to support themselves; with useful machines such as the Tube Swager and the Wheel Lathe.  We are also taking on contract work for locomotive restoration and the retrieval \ relocation of locomotives from various sites.

What a shame it would be lose all that we have achieved …

So we ask that Reefsteamers Members and General Railway Enthusiasts on this site seriously consider their time and take up the challenge of doing something practical to keep steam
alive.  Not only at Reefsteamers, but at any of the other heritage operators.  Reefsteamers asks for only one or two Saturdays a month.  There is a special satisfaction in working on steam locos and railway equipment, and being a part of something that brings joy and ignites memories for others.

Even if you aren't handy with your hands, something as simple as supporting the work crews with refreshments, drinks and transport would be greatly appreciated.

You could even help with marketing, fund raising, recruitment, seeking sponsorships and messaging, activities that don’t require your physical presence at the Reefsteamers Germiston premises.  It is even easier to do those tasks with computers and on-line technology that we have available today.

It just takes some imagination…

If you wish to be involved in the workshops, please contact Shaun Ackerman at and tell him what skills you have and when you can get involved.  Contrary to popular belief, not all of the work is heavy and involving complicated engineering.  We do have lighter duty \ non-specialist tasks to be done.

If you are interested in staffing coaches, you can contact Diana Sanderson at You will need to become a member before becoming a coach staff member – but you can at least get an overview before hand.

For details concerning membership, contact Lauren Ackerman at  Lauren can also put you into contact with the relevant parties should you wish to be involved on line and\or off-site in terms of advertising, fund-raising, sponsorships, etc.

Kind regards,

Clive Holliday, Chairman

Directors:      Clive Holliday (Chair & Engineering); Shaun Ackerman (Engineering & Depot); Simon Bennett (Safety); Marinus Kort (Operations); Alan Leesam (Finance); Philipp Maurer (Website & Tours); Greg Zurnamer (Marketing)


=== RIP - Pieter Steenkamp ===

photo credits to Paul Hloben

Thank you Piet for all your efforts in the early days of Reefsteamers, you will have always a special place in our hearts, it was always a great pleasure to enjoy time with you. Enjoy the times with all the great steam characters in the Steam Heaven. 



Reefsteamers' Anthony 'John' Hammill died last night in hospital - 5 Sept. 2018. He was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, and had recently been involved in a serious motor car accident at his home. John also had weight and mobility issues, only able to move around with a walking frame.

In spite of his health issues which compounded in recent years, John had been involved with Reefsteamers one way or another for a very long time ... but usually in a background\support role. Recently, John donated a sum of money in excess of R50K to secure the naming rights on 12AR 1535 in honour of his wife 'Susan.' (So the renamed 12AR would actually retain her name too.) His company also supplies our security officers at a much reduced rate. John was also involved in the professional wind-up of the failed SANRASM organisation.

Thank you John for all your efforts in SA Rail preservation, you will have always a special place in our hearts, it was always a great pleasure to enjoy time with you


=== RIP FRANS van DYK ====


Another steam driver has just been booked into the big loco shed in the sky.  Driver Frans van Dyk passed away yesterday. (27 July 2018)  He voluntarily retired from driving for Reefsteamers due to health reasons and he drove for the last time for us on 16 Dec. 2011. (Operating 15F 3046, then named 'Janine' after a grand daughter.)

Fran's life on the irons:
Frans started his loco career as a firelighter in January 1956 in Greyville and had advanced to a firelighter/cleaner by that July, but at Escort.  He became a fireman 14 months after he started at SAR (Feb. 1957) and would be a fireman on the distinctive SAR 2 ft narrow gauge for 8 years.

Frans wrote his Passed Fireman exam in Nov. 1964 and got the actual job promotion 4 months later and was transferred to the Port Shepstone narrow gauge system.  He got his Driver Grade a year later in July 1966, but was still working primarily as a fireman.  

In December 1967, he took up duties as an official driver for the first time, and was mainly doing shunting work at the Durban harbours and docks.  Of course, he was now operating the 3ft 6in Cape Gaugers.  

1968 was an eventful year as Frans married Helena in January and was promoted to a full time regular driver on the 2 foot gauge again, this time based at Highflats.  

By 1970, Frans had been bunted out as a relief driver onto the Ixopo line roster as the Highflats depot closed down, and it looked like his career was winding down as well.  But he went back to Port Shepstone Shed again, as a driver position was open once more.

After over ten years steaming along the narrow gauge, in 1981, Frans was a Toaster Tender for 6 months at Germiston, before returning to Port Shepstone to drive electrics along the beach front and the local systems.  

I bet he was glad to be home, even if driving a very different machine.  Frans retired from Transnet service in 1993 – after 37 years of service.

Frans received awards during his service in terms of safety, never having once instigated an accident or a dangerous incident.

An engineless Frans drifted into Reefsteamers’ orbit and was captured in January 2003 and was recertified as a driver in November 2006.  Those were the years that Reefsteamers were really getting into some long distance tours, so Frans got some long-running time in on the Cape Gauge steam-machines – something hat he hadn’t experienced much during his official time on the railways.

Frans chose to retire in December 2011 – while ‘on the crest of the wave’ as he put it.  (In English too!)

Here is an old-style Reefsteamers Photo Essay covering the event of the late Frans van Dyk's last run on behalf of Reefsteamers. (16 Dec. 2011.)


Day Sitter under restoration

one of our off-duty Day-sitter coaches undergoes restoration. The restoration work on our Day Sitter Coach No.22901 has started, the coach will join soon our steam trains along the rails

photos to find here


Planes, Train & Automobiles Event Photos and Videos


Reefsteamers @ MARK PILGRIM 11:10 28 MAY 2018

Podcast from 28.05.2018 - Reefsteamers @ Mark Pilgrim Show



Buy the naming rights for 25NC No.3472


Buy the name right for the 25NC No.3472 and support us to get this masterpiece of engineering back to the rails. The naming right includes the Nameplate, mounted under the headlamp at the smoke-box door and a 5years period. With Rand 60'000 you will help us to bring this engine back to steam! contact our chairman for future details:



Hunslet Shunter "Andrew" upgrade


Our Hunslet Shunter receives a bigger upgrade:
New bearings and bushes, New Windows, new floor and seats, insulated Cab to protect the Crew from engine heat and noise and a vacuum break system will be built in for safe shunting



Great Country Life Magazine Article about Reefsteamers


Country Life Magazine was at Reefsteamers and created an amazing article about Reefsteamers preservation and operation efforts. Thank you for the great day Country Life Magazine Crew                    Download the Article



Coaches on Fire at the Germiston Steam Depot


To all the Members and Friends of Reefsteamers Assoc.

I have deliberately delayed writing this open letter to you, the members of Reefsteamers until I was in a position to give you a factual report on the dreadful events that unfolded at Germiston Depot on Friday 23rd February 2018 at about 9:30pm. Having now been fully briefed on the facts I wish to share the information with you.

At about 9:30pm that evening I received a call from a Reefsteamers member informing me that a fire had broken out on our train which had been formed up ready to go to Magaliesburg the next morning. I was at that time in the U.K. having been called to be with my Mother who was very seriously ill. I contacted other Board members by telephone who later confirmed my worst fears.
It would appear that three of our coaches including a day sitter were ablaze and that George Hoddinott who was the Loco minder that night, had single handedly driven the 12AR from the Loco Shed across the yard and then coupled to the blazing train, detached the blazing coaches and hauled the rest of the consist to safety. The local fire brigade had been co-ordinated and directed to the scene by Mark, the Paramedic and were in attendance. Although they attended very promptly they were unable to save the three coaches that were on fire and they were completely destroyed. I would like to commend George Hoddinott on behalf of the Board of Directors and the Membership for his quick thinking, as without him we would have lost our complete train.
As a result of the fire and loss of three coaches plus smoke damage to the rest of the consist, I had no choice but to cancel the next day’s train and another the following week. This has hit Reefsteamers very hard financially and it will be a massive task to overcome in the future.
Our rolling stock is insured and as a result an insurance assessor was called to examine the wreckage with a view to ascertaining what had caused the fire. This examination has now been completed and I have been advised that the fire was most likely caused by an electrical malfunction in a light fitting in the roof of one of the vehicles destroyed.
The loss of these three vehicles will have a huge impact on our activities as we can no longer carry 500 passengers. We are actively searching for replacement vehicles and are receiving help in this regard from PRASA who have been most supportive.
I will come back to you all if there are any further developments and hope you understand my decision to not publish this letter until I was in possession of all the facts.

Clive Holliday, Acting Chairman