Sandstone Estates are an extensive farming complex located in Free State, South Africa, close to Bloemfontein. Owned by entrepreneur Wilf Mole, they are also a global-scale hub of transport preservation.
A large former colonial farm, Mole bought the complex after making his money from becoming the owner of the Nokia (mobile phone) franchise for South Africa. Like many farms in South Africa, it had no narrow gauge railway to transport produce direct from the fields to the main shipping ports but Wilf, who is a dedicated railway enthusiast paid for one to be built with his own capital. Since 2005, the farm has become 100% organic.
Sandstone Heritage TrustEditA steam enthusiast, in the mid-1990s Mole was approached by Alan Clarke of Transnet Heritage Foundation, who realised the foundation did not have the resources to rescue the collapsing Midmar Museum in KwaZulu-Natal. The collection formed the basis of what became the Sandstone Heritage Trust.
Today, the trust's collection is still based around the railway transport of Southern Africa, but also covers an extensive global road transport, tractors and military vehicle collection.
The 26 km 2 ft narrow gauge complex runs from Grootdraai in the south, northwards to the main farm at Hoekfontein, onwards via Mooihoek to a large loop at Vailima sidings/Ficksburg and the farm's main depot at Vailima.
At Ficksburg, located alongside the Transnet Freight Rail Bethlehem to Bloemfontein line. The Ficksburg site is also the hub of a short 3 ft gauge line, where the locomotives included artist David Shepherd's North British Locomotive Company 15F, and the standard gauge workshops.
The estate is also home to an extensive collection of vintage tractors and farm machinery. Some examples of which have participated in various record attempts held around the world to get the most tractors working at once. Some of Wilfs tractors are 'resident' in the UK and attend vintage shows there.The trusts members has also restored several steam traction engines and steam wagons.
A list of some of the trusts vehicles includes;
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- Alfred County Railway
- Avontuur Railway
- Welsh Highland Railway
- Two foot gauge railways in South Africa
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