General News

A school visit from Lesotho

One of the joys of Sandstone is when young school children visit us and see what life was like in the past. Recently 51 pupils from the Maseru Preparatory School, under the Leadership of teacher Margaret Matlole and four other teachers, visited us for a morning. The children were shown the Steam Railway depot and Road Steam shed with its trucks and buses. The highlight was a ride on an Ox wagon and the Donkey cart after which all the children and teachers settled down for a picnic before their return to Maseru. Our picture gallery tells the story. Pictures taken with permission

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Gavin Brown

Shortly after our Easter Steam event we were saddened to hear of the passing of Gavin Brown. Gavin was the driving force behind Classic Flying Collection who have partnered with Sandstone on many events since 2014. Their vintage aircraft collection of Tiger Moths, Stampe and Chipmunks have given many hours of flying pleasure to visitors to Sandstone. Gavin had been unwell for some time but did visit our Easter event. With his illness, his son Steve organised Classic Flying Collection to visit at Easter and also at last November’s Cherry Festival. Sadly the Cherry visit did not happen as the inclement weather made Sandstone unsuitable for flying over that event. We will remember Gavin with affection and his efforts in promoting classic flying and his enthusiasm for our Sandstone events. Our thoughts are with his sons Steve and Kyle and Gavin’s partner, Rose for their loss.

Gareth Williamson read the eulogy for Gavin at his recent memorial. Here is a short piece from the eulogy.

Gavin Brown memorial.

Up, Up, and Away Like a bird, you took to the sky Soaring high, as if to defy Gravity's pull, you flew with ease On wings of steel, through the breeze You travelled far, you travelled wide From sea to shining sea you'd glide Above the clouds, you found your peace A place where all your worries ceased Now you've flown beyond our sight Into the vast and endless night But we know you're not truly gone Your spirit lives on and on So fly, dear friend, fly away Into the light of a brand new day And know that we will always be Forever grateful that you flew free.

This beautiful poem speaks to the journey of Gavin Brown's life and how he has now taken flight into a new realm of existence. We are reminded of the many places he travelled and the vastness of the world that he experienced. As he soared above the clouds, he found peace and freedom from his worries, and now he has flown beyond our sight. But even though we can no longer see him, we know that his spirit lives on and on, and that his memory will never fade. In our hearts and minds, he will always be with us, and we will forever be grateful for the time that we had with him. As we say goodbye to Gavin Brown, let us take comfort in the fact that he has now flown free, and that he will always be remembered with love and affection.

Classic Flying Collection.

Sandstone are pleased that they will be continuing their association  with Classic Flying Collection and Gavin’s son, Steve and his group of colleagues we call “the Fly Boys”. They are committed to maintaining the standards set by Gavin Brown and are already preparing for our next event, the Cherry Steam Festival, in November 2023. We look forward to welcoming them there.

In 2018, prior to the Stars of Sandstone 2019 event, we published the following article on Classic Flying Collection in the Stars of Sandstone 2019 newsletters. We think it echoes the man that was Gavin Brown. May he Rest in Peace.


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International Museum Month

It is International museum Day on Thursday 18th May and also the start of International Museum Month. You can read full details on the PDF and don’t forget you can visit Sandstone as part of the International Museum Month. We would love to see you!

Click here for the PDF


Sebs Childrens Railway with a new dimension

Seb’s Children’s Railway with a new dimension!

At our recent Easter Steam and Cosmos Festival, our smaller children’s railway was reopened after repair to the Hippo Dam Wall over which the line runs. The line is now enclosed within our new Game Camp and has been renamed in 2023 as Seb’s Children’s Railway. Imagine a sundowner trip viewing game by rail in the beautiful eastern Free State!

Click here to read the article and view the locomotives for the line.

An international tour to Sandstone in 2023!

One of the first International Tours to Sandstone since the Pandemic has been announced by Timeline Events for May/June this year. This is exciting news as it heralds the return of International visitor groups to Sandstone after a gap of nearly four years and is one of two tours proposed for 2023 at present.  Should you wish to join this tour full details are available via the link in the mailer below.

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Image by John Titlow


May 29th (arrival) to 5th June (departure) 2023
It is with great pleasure that we can offer a trip to photograph one of the world’s most fascinating and extensive collections of two foot gauge railway locomotives and rolling stock which operates alongside an incredible wealth of working heritage machinery against a stunningly scenic backdrop.
Sandstone Estates occupies a vast area of some 17,000 acres and is located near the border between South Africa’s Eastern Free State and the neighbouring country of Lesotho. Wheat, maize, sunflowers, cosmos and soya beans are grown across the Estate. Alongside this business has been accumulated an immense heritage collection of steam locomotives and rolling stock, much of which has over the years been restored to full working order. In addition, a great many other aspects of South Africa’s rich transport and agricultural past can be found here; taken together it forms one of the most interesting transport collections existing today, and we have been offered six full days on the Estate exclusively photographing at this amazing location with the emphasis very much on the narrow gauge steam.
Our events will work on the basis that the very best results given the extremely spectacular and inspiring lighting we are likely to have are best obtained just after sunrise as the sun clears the hills and then again at sunset as the warm evening glow turns to gold. Early in the morning and again in the later afternoon to early evening we will be in position at the better locations to make the best possible use of the available light for several hours, when we hope to obtain those glints, silhouettes and similar which the vast majority of steam photographers covet. With our locos being prepared before daylight, these are the types of shots that can only be obtained on a charter. This does not of course mean the other hours of daylight will be neglected, as we certainly intend to use this time to set up an array of cameos using not only the trains but also a selection from the fantastic array of heritage machinery that is preserved in full working order on site, much of it truly historic. This includes traction engines, steam wagon, vintage tractors in abundance - and we should have one of the fine oxen trains to photograph hauling authentic wagons.
Over the course of the charters there should be something to interest every taste, all set against a spectacular backdrop with lots to see and experience in addition to the trains. We aim for a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere with many great photography opportunities.

For more details, please click on the Link below…


Maluti Wanderer
An exciting photographic event at Sandstone with Stimela Photographic Events! August 5th & 6th 2023.

Stimela Photographic Events (SPE), in collaboration with Sandstone Heritage Trust, presents The Maluti Wanderer. On the weekend of 5 to 6 August 2023 SPE have chartered two Lawley 4-4-0 locomotives (NG97 and BR7) and a consist of wagons to recreate spectacular scenes of yesteryear and narrow-gauge operations. Truly an adventure not to be missed by photographers nor rail enthusiasts!

For further details and bookings download the PDF with the booking form or  contact Stimela Photographic Events by e mail on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


A photo gallery from Aubrey Malden.

Aubrey Malden visited our Easter Event and sent us this short photo gallery or all to enjoy.

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Our next event!

The Cherry Steam Festival. Friday 17th November to Sunday 19th November 2023.

After a very successful Easter Steam and Cosmos Festival we are pleased to announce that our next event for 2023 will be The Cherry Steam Festival.  We will keep you posted on the information and attractions for this event through our web site and Face Book pages.  Diarise the dates now! Friday 17th November to Sunday 19th November 2023.

The Sandstone Easter Steam and Cosmos Festival, coverage in Volksblad.

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Some great coverage of the recent Sandstone Easter Steam and Cosmos Festival in the Free State’s own newspaper, Volskblad.

Click here to read the PDF :
Part 1
Part 2

The Sandstone Easter Steam and Cosmos Festival 2023

Our annual Easter event was a great success this year with good weather for three days but heavy rain later on Sunday rendered much of the Farm waterlogged for Monday which limited activities to train rides. To compensate our visitors we offered free entrance for the final day.

After a recruitment drive for volunteers before the event, we were able to offer more military vehicles in action plus more tractors and a portable steam engine that was fired by mealie cobs!

The Vailima Siding section of the Sandstone Steam Railway was reopened after not seeing any use since 2019 and Seb’s Railway was also reopened after serious damage to the dam wall, which carries the track over the Hippo Dam, was repaired and the wall strengthened. Seb’s Railway was a great success with busy trains throughout the event and visitors also enjoyed the frequent runs over Pandora Bank to Vailima Siding. The Vailima Siding Run gave a magnificent view of the Cosmos which graced Sandstone just in time for our event. A variety of locomotives was used with Lawley NG97 and NGG11 52 operating on shorter trains from Hoekfontein to Grootdraai and return. NGG16 Garratts 113 and 153 provided the motive power for the longer run to Vailima Siding. Our ex SAR 91 Class diesel provided stand by power for the weekend.

Classic Flying Collection arrived at the show with a number of vintage aircraft including a Stampe biplane and two Tiger Moths which gave flips to our visitors throughout the weekend although the waterlogged runway grounded them on Monday. Our thanks to Steve Brown and his team for a great contribution to the event and also to all our many volunteers who made the Festival a success.

Sadly the roads in the Ficksburg area are still poor condition although plans are supposedly in place to upgrade the road from Bethlehem to Ladybrand as per our web post on the 15th December 2022.

No work has begun and we are constantly lobbying the Free State Government and Roads department for an answer to the point that they will not take our calls and have resorted to blocking them completely but we will keep up the pressure! Nevertheless thanks to everyone who visited us and was undeterred by slow progress on the roads to Sandstone!

We will let our photo gallery tell the story of the Easter Steam and Cosmos Festival 2023.

Our next event will be in conjunction with the Cherry Festival from Friday 17th to Sunday the 19th November 2023. We hope to see you there.


It has been a good time for international press coverage of Sandstone's activities.

We have received an influx of articles appearing which covered various aspects of our heritage programme here in South Africa...