21st December 2007

Simmer & Jack Mine, a name woven into the fascinating and colourful history of South Africa's Gold Mining industry, was one of the earliest mines to open on the Witwatersrand near Johannesburg.  Situated in Germiston the mine survived for many years but in recent times has gone through a change of ownership.  During this time many of the old buildings and two locomotives, one made by Porter and the other made by Avonside, sat patiently awaiting their fate.  What is particularly interesting about these locomotives is that a number of wooden ore hoppers have also survived and collectively they represent a fascinating insight into the world of early industrial mine locomotives working in South Africa.

The owners of Simmer & Jack Mine have decided to place the future of these items in the hands of Steam in Action and they will be uplifted early in the new year.  Although no date has been set for their restoration they will certainly go through a substantial mechanical and cosmetic upgrade to ensure that they are in good visual order.  It is quite likely that an opportunity will unfold in association with the South African Gold Mining industry for them to play a role in portraying South Africa's Gold Mining heritage.   Many of these locomotives which have been sitting stationary for many years were always potentially at a dangerous crossroad.  One wrong move and they would cease to exist altogether.

Industrial locomotives like these two at Simmer & Jack have never been considered to be that collectable but we believe that their day will come.

Detailed reports on the major logistical work that needs to be done in moving them will follow in the new year.







17th March 2008

Following on from Sandstone's acquisition of the two locomotives from the old Simmer & Jack mine in Germiston, John Middleton has sent us this pic from the North British catalogue of a similar loco to S&J no: 6 supplied to Imperial Chemical Industries (now AECI) in 1934. It is a NBL 2-6-2T works no: 24218 of 1934 but was sadly scrapped in 1984.

The detail in the catalogue provides some useful information on the loco type.


21st March 2008

The move of the two Simmer & Jack locomotives and the six ancient wooden gold ore hopper wagons is underway.  Pictures are starting to come in.

This is a particularly useful job for Ron because it is a couple of kilometres from where he lives.

Our pictures show the team hard at work (back breaking stuff). The locomotives are being evacuated because the site is being converted into a landfill site and there is a continuous stream of trucks bringing rubbish in and out of the site.

More updates to follow.

The on site team (left to right):
Shaun Ackerman from Reefsteamers (team leader)
Henri from the Sandstone Heritage Trust, Eastern Free State
Lyndie Mole providing encouragement and moral support and if the lads work hard enough refreshments
and Ron Nell from Frameline




28th March 2008

A team from Sandstone Estates ably assisted by a team from Reefsteamers got stuck in last week and started removing the two locomotives and six ancient wooden ore hoppers from the Simmer & Jack site.  The site has been purchased by the local Municipality who are turning it into a landfill site.  It is a great pity because there are some magnificent historical buildings there.

The Reefsteamers team liberated the locomotive and it was loaded onto a Transcor low bed.  This enabled Leon Flynn and the Sandstone transport people to move in and remove the six ore hoppers. This was accomplished in two days which is a remarkable achievement.  Five of the hoppers are stored at Reefsteamers nearby and one has been taken to the Sandstone Heritage Trust in the Eastern Free State for restoration.  Leon Flynn had no sooner driven out with the last hopper when the heavens opened and it started raining.  It continued for 5-days.  This has delayed the removal of the final locomotive which should take place in a few days time.

A very detailed report on the move will appear shortly.


As is often the case it is not easy to get heavy vehicles into the correct position to load railway heritage items.


Leon Flynn with the Freightliner that has been to every country in Southern Africa collecting old heritage items.

A good close-up picture of the wonderful old ore hoppers.


No hydraulic winches, just hand power.

A close-up of the old bogies made of wood and steel.


A close-up of the temporary ramp that had to be built to load these items.

Hoppers are heavy, note the way in which the low bed takes the strain.


Leon Flynn with the Freightliner departing with the last of the ore hoppers.  One of the wonderful old Simmer & Jack buildings which is reputed to be the first South Africa Breweries Pub in South Africa in the background.

Arriving at Reefsteamers - it is a difficult manoeuvre to get the truck into place so that it is aligned to the temporary ramp.


The truck has now arrived at Reefsteamers and Henry is busy releasing the hopper.

Build a ramp or dig a hole - it is the same thing!


The truck must be perfectly reversed to line-up the tracks.

Left to right: Andrew King of Reefsteamers, and Leon Flynn and Henry Brown of Sandstone.

Shaun brings the trusty Hunslet diesel up the ramp to tow the wagon away.

Shaun checking the coupling.

Henry gently releases the wagon down the ramp to be coupled up with the diesel.

The wagon has been removed and is on its way to the safe storage at Reefsteamers.

What an improvement on where they have been for the last 50-years. No wonder they are so heavy - this one is still full of soil.

In attendance during the proceedings Aidan McCarthy, Shaun Ackerman, Wilfred Mole and Charles Viljoen.


While visiting the depot to check on the progress of the Simmer & Jack move it was nice to see Lyndie Lou, our GMAM, No. 4073.


7th April 2008

The second of the two locomotives, namely the NORTH BRITISH Tank has arrived safely at the Sandstone Heritage trust. Our pictures show the offloading as well as the Transcor team who handled the move.


18th April 2008

S&J’s No: 6 sister engine (NBL 24218/1934) was originally supplied to AECI in Modderfontein Johannesburg in 1934 but sold to South African Coal Estates in Witbank. Here we see it on 28th September 1971 at Clewer. It would seem that the bunker has been modified by a rear end collision. Our thanks to Ken Livermore of the NBL society for the information and Mike Hudson of Bognor Regis who captured the image.