Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hexrivier (C 16)

Name: Hexrivier


In contrast to the quiet economic conditions of the cattle grazing past, an economic revolution has come to the valley in comparatively recent times. The change began in 1875 when the Hex River railway pass was surveyed by Wells Hood and built at a cost of R 1 million, to carry the main railway from Cape Town to the north and the diamond fields of Kimberley.

Seven years after the opening of this great railway pass, the first tentative export of table grapes was made to Britain. In 1886 the grapes (red, white and Hanepoot) were privately dispatched to Dr. Smuts in London.

Google count:

Historic fact:

The Boer War
The line was used to transport British soldiers during the Boer War and was a strategic target. With respect to the Hex River Pass, bridges were guarded by the British soldiers and the remains of the blockhouses at these points are still evident. In 1914 a large troop train carrying a regiment of the Kaffrarian Rifles derailed on a steep downward bend on its way to Cape Town. Nine non-commissioned officers were killed. A monument to the regiment has been erected at the point of derailment.

Other interesting info:

The then standard wide gauge track of 4'8" could not be accommodated economically on the tight bends of the Hex River Pass. A decision was thus made by the Cape Government to install the track at 3'6". Subsequently a decision was taken to convert all tracks to the Cape Gauge of 3'6". In further efforts to construct the pass cheaply and quickly, sleepers were laid on the ground without ballast in certain areas and had to be corrected later.
Where to stay:

23rd July 1999
TEXT SIZE A public call for development proposals was made subsequent to Spoornet’s decision to sell-off the unused stretch of railway-line between De Doorns and Kleinstraat in the Western Cape province. The line – which includes the scenic Hex River Pass and the historically significant stretch between De Doorns and Matroosberg built in the 1870s – has not been used since the opening of the Hex river tunnel route in 1989.

Spoornet was expecting proposals from private investors regarding potential commercial use of the line to be submitted by the end of July. These proposals are to be evaluated by Transnet and the Western Cape Plans Committee of the National Monuments Council. The following factors are to be taken into account in evaluating the proposals: their compatibility with the natural and historical features of the line, the degree to which they preserve the cultural and historical significance of the line, the economic viability of the proposals and linkages with other regional tourism initiatives within the Breede River district. It has been accepted that proposals may be for the entire section of the line or only for a portion of it.

Research undertaken by members of the University of Cape Town’s archaeology department has confirmed that the Hex River Pass component was the first major extension of a South African railway line from the Cape into the interior and is the oldest railway pass in South Africa. Certain of the line’s structural features, such as rail bridges, stations and tunnels, are among the earliest of their kind in South Africa. The National Monuments Council is considering the possibility of proclaiming the line a national monument, but whether the line and its various features are proclaimed a single historical site or as a series of separate historical sites will depend on which interpretation of the existing legislation is adopted. In assessing the proposals from private developers account will be taken of the degree to which they plan to inject capital into the necessary repair, operation and maintenance the line. Transnet’s Heritage Foundation has said that it would consider leasing a steam train to any developer who wished to run a steam locomotive on the line, but have noted that this would require investment by the developer in order to refurbish the line, and to put in place water columns and coaling facilities.

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