Sandstone Press Release

Issued by Sandstone Estates (Pty) Ltd
22 May 2020
South Africa’s Sandstone Estates (Pty) Ltd has appointed Geoff’s Trains Ltd, a British specialist tour
operator, as their international groups consultant.

South Africa has been described as “A World in One Country”, an exceptional tourist destination that
offers a fascinating history, vibrant present and outstanding natural beauty and wildlife reserves.
Less known is the vast agricultural and industrial infrastructure, and the story about how they came into
being from the fruit and wine estates around Cape Town to the vast highveld agricultural estates that
feed the nation.
One organisation that is strongly associated with both running a successful agri-business and preserving
its past is Sandstone Estates. It is a large agricultural estate close to the Maluti Mountain Range in the
Eastern Free State province offering scenic wide-open spaces, huge heritage collections, loads of oldfashioned rides and a 26km-long narrow-gauge railway.
The company provides a dynamic, and probably unique, insight into industrial, military, and agricultural
heritage interwoven with one of the nation’s great farming estates that is committed to the future with
sustainable farming and community support.
The heritage collection
From a small start over 20 years ago, Sandstone’s heritage collection has grown to what is today one of
the world’s largest collections of heritage assets with a railway, agricultural, transport and military
background. Much of this impressive collection is maintained in working order.
With such a diverse and historic collection located in such scenic surroundings, it was inevitable that
there would be a growing pressure from the public to visit. Events were organised that made this
possible and these grew into the bi-annual Stars of Sandstone International Festival.
The Stars of Sandstone Festival
The success of the Stars festivals meant, increasing visitors, both local and international and Sandstone
decided that it would look to providing the same experience but to more manageable tour groups in the
future.
In 2019, Sandstone contracted Geoff’s Trains Limited, a UK based specialist tour operator, to act as their
international tourist booking agent. Geoff’s Trains is owned by Geoff Cooke, who still has a hands-on
approach to the business. He has been associated with African heritage tourism for many years, with
experience a diverse as building and operating an upmarket steam tourist train to Victoria Falls and
running railway charters and more general tours to many African countries including South Africa,
Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania. Recognising his long-standing commitment to African
heritage tourism. He has included multi day Sandstone visits in his tour portfolio since their early days.
The future
Sandstone has appointed Geoff Cooke and Geoff’s Trains Limited to act as their consultant for
international group tours. Geoff will work with Sandstone to encourage group visits from around the
world to visit the collection in a way that will offer great value and interest for the visitor whilst
minimising the disruption to the farming estate, so shifting the emphasis from a come all approach to a
more targeted product that will be easier to promote and more sustainable. He will work with group
tour operators, clubs or anyone interested in visiting Sandstone to develop a visit best suited to their
interests.
This multi-faceted approach makes it easy to develop a multi-day tour that can stand alone or be
incorporated into a wider African holiday. It is intended to give each visit a special character whilst
minimising disruption to farming activity.
Sandstone and Geoff’s Trains working together
The key elements of any visit to Sandstone are getting there, accommodation and attractions.
Getting there
The usual gateway to Sandstone for international visitors is Johannesburg’s OR Tambo Airport. Geoff will
assist with planning for transfers between airport and estate, nominally a five-hour trip. This can be
anything from chauffer car hire to a luxury coach.
Accommodation at Sandstone
Your group will need accommodation either at Sandstone or nearby. Geoff’s experience can direct you
to the best solution.
Sandstone can offer self-catering accommodation in Victorian Cottages for up to 24 people, each
cottage can sleep four in two twin bedded rooms with a kitchen and bathroom with shower. Their
railway cottages offer accommodation for 8 people in twin bedded or single rooms with shower. For
larger groups, there are railway coaches that previously operated passenger sleeper services throughout
southern Africa. These historic carriages offer economical accommodation that is popular with railway
enthusiasts. Meals can be arranged at the Waenhuis, a recreation area with indoor and outdoor seating
and a well-equipped kitchen and bar. Also available is a conference room is equipped with white boards,
an overhead projector and additional equipment.
Sandstone’s Attractions
Sandstone Estates is open to visitors all year round with a programme which enables you to select from
a menu of options. Geoff’s Trains Ltd will help you to review these options, plan your visit and provide
you with a quotation to suit your requirements.
The Narrow-Gauge Steam Railway
We have one of the largest private 2-ft Narrow Gauge Railways in the world with over 25 locomotives in
use, all of which have seen previous use in southern Africa. Visits from one day to over a week can be
tailored to the specific interests of your group where the emphasis may be on photography, riding the
rails or footplate experience.
The collection includes locomotives from many different countries that can become the centrepiece of a
themed experience, supplemented by appropriate heritage farm and road vehicles. Examples of this
would be a day devoted to locomotives manufactured in Britain, the USA, Germany and others
accompanied by appropriate vintage vehicles, tractors and farm machinery. Put together a number of
such days for a unique photographic experience.
If you prefer riding the rails, no problem! With over 26 km of track and three distinctive routes to
choose from, you can ride different trains on different days over different lines.
Your visit will be planned with Geoff’s assistance, ensuring that your requests are achievable and that
the price is right for you.
Tractors, trucks, cars and busses
Many of the exhibits are operational and can feature in your tour. The remaining exhibits can be viewed
in spacious storage areas. If you would like a tractor ride into the fields, experience an ox waggon for a
South African wild west experience, zip through the African bush in a vintage car or half cab bus or go
big with a ride on a Sherman tank, they are all possible at Sandstone.
The military collection
We can offer military vehicle experiences using a substantial collection of military vehicles including a
Ratel, Samil 100, Elands, Ferrets, Casspir, Buffel, and many others including WWII vehicles such as a
Sherman tank, the White Half Track and Bedford Desert troop carrier..
Farming and natural history
The farming activity at Sandstone is there for you to see. Depending on the season and weather, you
may witness ploughing, planting and the harvesting of crops as diverse as maize, soya beans and cosmos
flowers. There are also cattle and other domestic livestock that graze alongside wild antelope and other
African species that have made the estate their home, encouraged by Sandstone’s green credentials.
You do not have to be a transport heritage enthusiast to enjoy Sandstone, visiting the estate and
spending a night or two there can be the highlight of any South African holiday.
For more information, please contact:
Sandstone Estates
www.sandstone-estates.com
Geoff Cooke, Geoff’s Trains Ltd
WWW.geoffs-trains.com
Phone: 44 (0)7752143657
69 Pitt Street, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England, DY10 2UN

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