Transport History

The iconic bright red double-decker bus is part of London’s “persona”, an instantly recognisable part of London life, however it would come as a surprise to many to know that on the outskirts of the capital, buses were once painted Lincoln Green. The reason for this goes back to before the Second World War, when the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) was formed on the 1st July 1933.

Long before man ever travelled up the pass, herds of eland, searching for greener pastures, crossed here in the winter months. Traditionally migratory elephants led by the herds matriarch, would make their way down to their grazing grounds on the Cape Flats. A Khoi tribe, known as Gantauwers (People of the Eland) also followed this pass. They called the path T’kanna Ouwe or Gantouw, ‘Gan’ being the Khoi word for eland and ‘touw’ the Khoi word for path. Later travellers also took up this meaning, calling it the Elandspat (path of the eland).

The title refers to the road coming through Witsieshoek, now Phuthaditjhaba, in the Free State, going up to the Sentinel car park. It is a strange road. Was it constructed just to give us hikers better access to the top of the Tugela Falls and Mount-Aux-Sources? Very unlikely.


On the 14th of December 2019, Sydney, Australia, opened a new light-rail tram service between the CBD and Randwick which is to the south-east of the City. There is also another service to the south-west of the City which has been in operation for some years. The new service goes right past the famous Sydney Cricket Ground and the Royal Randwick Racecourse.

 I rode the full length of the new line recently and it is the trams themselves that I want to comment on.

Heritage activists have reported that the Rotunda in downtown Johannesburg is being vandalised. The iconic roof is being stripped and if action is not taken soon the condition of the building will deteriorate rapidly. Passionate enthusiasts are trying to get the owners (PRASA) to allocate more security to the site.


A modern photographic phenomenon that has emerged is “found photographs” – these include everyday snapshot photographs taken by others years ago, but have subsequently been discarded. These discarded photographs can today be bought up cheaply by photographic curators at car boot sales, charity organisations, fairs or auctions (online auctions included). These photographs are typically found in old photo albums, boxes with photo-odds or photo sleeves holding old prints.

In the brief article below, Arthur Bowland digs into the history of Durban's old Toll House and describes how it was 'rediscovered' in Kloof in the 1970s when many believed it had been lost forever. At the end of the article, Bowland talks about the 'shifting' of the house. Here's hoping it is still in existence somewhere. If any enthusiasts on the ground have current information please add details in the comments section below the article.

In 1961, South African Panorama ran a special article bidding a sad farewell to tramcars in Johannesburg (the tram had dominated the transport scene for seven decades until the rise of the trolley-bus led to its demise). Below are a few excerpts and photographs from the wonderful piece. 


This is an important moment in which we celebrate the recovery of an element of Cape Town’s lost transportation heritage: milestones. And it coincides with the bi-centenary of their installation along Main Road: milestones exactly like the one pictured below (located opposite the well known Olympia Cafe Main Road Kalk Bay) were first placed along Main Road in 1814 – 1815 during the governorship of Lord Charles Somerset.


On reaching the bottom of Robber’s Pass on a journey towards the village of Pilgrim’s Rest you will notice on your left the Golf Club, but should you glance to the right you will see at intervals elegant cast iron poles each with a curved outrigger. You may well ponder as to what they are and after three guesses will still be none the wiser. To know the answer you will have to know some of the history of Pilgrim’s Rest.

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