The James Hall Museum of Transport is the largest and most comprehensive museum of land transport in South Africa. It was established by the Late Jimmie Hall together with the City of Johannesburg in February 1964.
The mezzanine level in the south hall is devoted to the history of animal drawn vehicles, which were the earliest forms of transport in South Africa. Of special interest are the two and four-seater Cape Carts, a very comfortable two-wheeled cart used for passenger and mail transportation. It is a uniquely South African invention designed to cope with African conditions.
Other vehicles of interest in this section are Spider (Surrey), Governess Cart and Victoria, which was most commonly used as a taxi in towns and cities.
In this area the larger more robust animal drawn ehicles are exhibited. On display are a replica Zeederberg Coach (the original can be seen in MuseumAfrica), a Voortrekker wagon more commonly known as a Kakebeenwa and various types of ox-wagons. A team of 16 oxen could pull transport loads of 2,700 kg.
The balance of this area is used as temporary exhibition space for various displays from time to time.
The museum has a world-renowned collection of steam vehicles on display. This includes Rollers, Wagons, Jib Cranes, a bus and a tractor all powered by steam, from various manufacturers, some still in working order.
The Sentinel Steam Wagon was used on the mines to transport coal from the bunkers to the shafts and to take scrap to the salvage yeards. A famous steam tractor "Texas Jack", also used on the Witwatersrand mines, is in working condition and by special arrangement can be seen running.
Other exhibits include vintage agricultural tractors and a Pont used to transport riders, their wagons and oxen, across the crocodile-infested Komati River. The Pont had been buried for over 70 years when it was dug up and brought to the museum. An anchor which comes from Norval's Pont on the Orange River can be seen.
The electric trolley buses on display come from Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and Pretoria, while the diesel bues are from Johannesburg, Cape Town and London.
The first section is devoted to the history of bicycles and motorcycles. The Velocipede or Boneshaker of 1869 is a heavy wooden machine with no suspension whatsoever, hence the name Boneshaker. Other cycles include Pennyfarthings, a tandem and tricycles for ladies, men and children.
The early motorcycles combined the principles of the bicycle and the internal combustion engine. A good example of this is the 1909 N.S.U. Imp. There is a fine range of veteran, vintage and classic motorcyles and a complete range of scooters.
In the second section is the museum's outstanding collection of fire fighting equipment. An array of magnificent fire engines ranging from a 1913 Merryweather team pump to the 1947 Dennis with an 8-cylinder Rolls-Royce engine. Among these fire engines is a 1936 Magirus Duitz with a extension ladder of 45 metres. Antique fire-fighting equipment includes buckets, hoses, fire alarms, hand pumps and extinguishers, as well as the original alarm board and switch box mechanism from the Johannesburg Fire Station.
The main body of the hall holds an outstadng array of motorcars, vintage, post vintage, pre-war and post-war models. It is interesting to nate the various body styles, mounting of headlamps and side lamps, together with notable technical advancements that were made by the various manufacturers.
South Africa over the past 120 years has had an incredible variety of motor vehicles, from imported models to the start of local assembly plants at coastal ports.
From the north hall you can take a diversion to the porch to see steam locomotives, municipal vehicles and agricultural equipment. The west section displays steam locomotives dating back to the Anglo-Boer War. Also on display is a mine locomotive that ran purely on compressed air. Interestingly a passenger car will soon be launched worldwide that uses this old idea in a new way.
The east section has a complete collection of municipal animal-drawn vehicles used in and around Johannesburg in the early days. They include carts for collecting garbage, night-soil and one labelled "general litter" for street cleaning. Also examine the variety of farming implements and machines.
This hall houses a selection of South African trams, buses and trolley buses. It has an example of the first horse-drawn tram used in Johannesburg from 1891-1902. It was pulled by two horses on a track laid down in the middle of the roadway and had a maximum speed of 7 mph. The driver blew a bone whistle to warn pedestrians of the tram's approach. The electric trams on display are all double-deckers, including the last tram which ran in 1961.
The Penny Farthing tuckhop sells snacks, cold drinks, chips and sweets, or you may wish to use the picnic areas around the museum.
The gift shop sells postcards and transport related items.
Tours for schools and other interested groups can be arranged, as well as rides on some of the museum vehicles. PLEASE BOOK.
Please do not climb on the vehicles without permission. Do not smoke, drink or eat in the display areas. Thank you!
Tuesday to Sunday 09:00 to 17:00
Every third weekend of the month.
Entrance is FREE but please donate towards upkeep and various programmes.
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