15 June 2017

South Africa: Footprint of Dutch South-African railway

Structures have been discovered during search for traces of Dutch South-African railway company.

North-eastern view of the covered Platform of the Johannesburg Park Station on the Randtram line from Johannesburg to Boksburg in the year 1897.

The Footsteps Along the Tracks (FAT) project has come to an end. It involved an extensive study to identify traces of the Nederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorweg Maatschappij (Dutch South-African railway company), founded in 1887. This project, supported by the Dutch Embassy in Pretoria as part of the Shared Cultural Heritage Programme, is a continuation of earlier studies of the built legacy of the Dutch in South Africa.

Undertaken by the University of Pretoria, the study has catalogued and geotagged hundreds of structures (buildings, bridges, stations etc.), including some that were forgotten and have been rediscovered. This information will help inform railway renovation programmes about the location of this built heritage, but will also make the broader public aware of this history.

In the spirit of making heritage relevant for the current generation, follow-up projects are being initiated that can help explore possibilities for reusing or repurposing some of these structures. One of them is a study supported by the Zuid-Afrikahuis on the economic or touristic potential of developing a section of the tracks.

On 12 July, a book on the FAT project will be launched in Pretoria. For more information, please go to this website or email pre-pcm@minbuza.nl.