head picture

return to home page


Not much of a town, but it does exist a few kilometers south of Orkney, at -27.0966 and 26.7755º to be precise. It used to be an ESKOM power station with its associated village. The boilers were shut down in  1990 and most of the structure demolished, but the village remained.
Vierfontein streetA bit of back ground. Production of electricity commenced in 1953, at its peak the station could deliver 360 MW. What is left of the station is only the Admin building, the workshop and the town. And here it looks like Eskom did a good thing, they sold the town to a property developer who in turn sold off individual houses. The village is run as private property, organising their own water- and electricity supply.
Houses are available for an incredible low price of R220 000 to R360 000 (March 2012). The draw-back and also the reason for the low prices is its distance from the main centers Kleksdorp and Bothaville.
power station admin blockIn the town we found a post office and a little shop. There is also a school, called Volkskool, I presume its a private Afrikaans school. Overall the town looks neat and well looked after. Must be an ideal place to retire to, just the distances to doctors and hospital are considerable. Its something that is always on a retired person's mind, ask me.
Nothing much has been left standing of the power station, just the admin building (see picture) and the coal bunkers.

Coal mining

Coal was first discovered in 1873 by Joseph Frans de Raedt on the farm Groenfontein, which is next to Vierfontein. Raedt made a business out of it by selling coal to Kroonstad. Later he joined up with Thomas Leask and established the 'Kroonstad Coal Estate' which was mining on the adjoining property of Vierfontein. And along came Tom Bourke who bought the farm Vierfontein plus some additional ground around it in 1892. His motivation initially was not to mine for coal, he mainly acted on a speculation that the extension of the Witwatersrand gold reef be found here. He was not far wrong. Whilst waiting for a gold strike he concentrated on mining coal and formed the Pelgrim's Mining and Exploration Company and continued extracting coal. He also used his land for farming, establishing a major farming enterprise.
The mine was closed in 1927 and reopened 1952 to supply coal to the Vierfontein power station.

Railway line

railway stationJust outside town is the Vierfontein railway station. Trains, judging by the shininess of the rails, still come here, but most likely only up to the silos. Further north the rail has been discontinued. The bridge over the Vaal at Orkney is without rails
First came a private rail link from Vierfontein to Eastleigh on the north side of the river, near where Orkney is now situated. The line was a private line to transport coal owned by the Pelgrim's Mining and Exploration Company. It connected to the Johannesburg/Kimberly mainline. The station was named Bourkeston, it is Vierfontein station now. Later Bourkeston was connected to a rail coming from Kroonstad in 1915.

Reference: A.W.G.Raath, G.N.van den Bergh & H.G.Hayes, 'Die geskiedeniss van Viljoenskroon 1921-2001', published by the Rapportryerskorps Viljoenskroon 2002
more on the history of the power station and coal mine can be found under the hyperlink: vierfontein

return to home page