Day 9. Thursday. 22/8/19. Pretoria to near Beitbridge
After the arrival of a 1946 steam engine puffing into the station which we were able to climb into the cabin and observe the workings and the firebox, Rohan Vos, owner of Rovos, took us for a guided tour of his workshop at Pretoria where old carriages purchased from throughout South Africa and engines mostly diesel from Queensland were being stripped and refurbished. Some of the workers are from the streets and now have a trade and are provided with 3 meals a day. There are 23 different trades including a couple of electricians, and skill sets which he has developed in his workshop. He owns 32 Diesel engines, some still under repair, and a 1893 steam engine which is being repaired and refurbished and should be completed in 3 months. He found 2 Diesel engines which he paid $7.5 million each shipped to his works at Pretoria, and said the shipping costs nearly broke him. It’s been a difficult road getting his business to where it is today, and he came very close to bankruptcy in 1993. This whole venture started when he wanted to make a ‘caravan’ with an engine and 2 carriages to take his family on holidays. Each of his steam engines is named after one of his 4 children. We were taken by bus 17k out of Pretoria to join the train because it could take half a day to get that far with all the holdups. So far, it has been electric from Cape Town using South African Railways Diesel Electric engines, but early tomorrow when we cross into Zimbabwe we change to Rovos Diesel engines.
We’re at Chobe Water Villas, Namibia for 2 nights and this is the first time I’ve been able to send the journals since Pretoria. I’ve decided to send the daily journals and go back later and add the photos. We have some amazing photos.
28/8/19. Sorry if this has already been sent - changed a few locations.