Springbok Bus Roots

1950s Motor Buses & Trackless Trams of Cape Town, South Africa


I was born in Cape Town South Africa in 1945, just after Adolf had incinerated his Reich but before Uncle Sam did the same to the Japanese.  I entered this world at the Leeuwendal Nursing Home – located midway between trackless tram routes 3 & 4!  In my formative years, buses vied for my attentions along with railways, ships of the Union Castle Line and the ocean going steam tugs of the South African Railways & Harbours.  No apology is made for the idiom of the times – there were no "persons" in the 1950s only real men and beautiful women.  To those interested in numbers and technical minutiae read no further; this tale is one of memory with the odd snippet confirmed by the technical press.  It is the story of my apprenticeship into the freemasonry of bus nuttery  - an affliction of noticing rather than noting as the more advanced form of the disease can take.


Public transport during this decade underwent a period of stable consolidation without radical changes.  Growing up in this climate induced a sense of security that the golden age of the half-cab and the trackless tram would last forever. Sadly, it was not to be; this story now belongs to another world in another time.  On Christmas Eve 1960 our family sailed away from Cape Town to start a new life in New Zealand.

Regrettably I did not photograph buses when living in Cape Town however I have avidly collected and copied pictures and information about South African buses whenever the opportunity has occurred.  These gleanings form the basis for the drawings I have used to illustrate this article. 

Reo with Wayne bodywork - one of seven received in 1943

Typical Golden Arrow doubledecker of the 1950s