The James Hall Museum of Transport in Johannesburg is the largest and most comprehensive museum of land transport in South Africa. Established by the late Jimmie Hall together with the City of Johannesburg in February 1964, the museum’s impressive collection of animal-drawn vehicles, coaches, motorcycles, buses and cars dates back to as early as 1870. This museum offers motor enthusiasts and inquisitive children insight into what transportation in early Johannesburg was like. Their steam vehicle collection is one of the most popular attractions for the little ones, as well as antique fire engines donated by the Johannesburg Fire Station. Housed in the East Hall of the museum, one of these engines is a 1913 Merryweather Steam Pump. Not only will the kids be enamored by the nostalgia of these machines, but they will learn a ton here.
Score yourself a few extra parent points these school holidays by bringing the kids to the James Hall Museum of Transport. Teaching them about the history of the city, its people and how they got around, the museum recognises that the theme of transport recurs throughout the primary school syllabus. Bring the images in their textbooks to life by taking a tour around the museum. Unfortunately, guided tours are only offered to groups of 60 or more. However, there are information signs on almost every display, so you can easily find your way around learning all about locomotives and their modern equivalents.
If your historical knowledge is somewhat lacking, bring Granny and Grandpa along to help out with the facts. We’re sure they will be delighted to take a trip down memory lane back to their childhoods. Plus, sharing their memories with the grandchildren is always worthwhile. Make sure to bring your camera with, to catch all the many photo opportunities.
Now that you have the whole family assembled, take a ride on a London bus, ox-wagon or vintage fire engine. The James Hall Museum of Transport offers short rides on some of their iconic machines. The jokesters of the family may want to try their hand at balancing on a Penny-Farthing or riding in tandem. These antiquated bicycles are a sight to behold with their strange configurations. Don’t be surprised if the kids wonder in awe at how people possibly traveled on one big wheel!
Once you have thoroughly explored the displays, head over to the museum’s gift shop. Here, you can find postcards and transport-related trinkets to take home. Pick up a memento or two to remember your time with the kids at the museum. Alternatively, you can set up a family picnic on the lawns just outside the museum. This is a great way to wind down after all the excitement!
The James Hall Museum of Transport is the ideal place to take the kids these holidays. So, pack them up into the car and get ready to experience a world in which Joburg’s roads where littered by carriages, wagons and trams. It’s definitely a marvel you won’t want them to miss out on. Entrance to the museum is free, so you really have no excuse not to visit.
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Address: Pioneers’ Park, 193 Rosettenville Road, La Rochelle, Johannesburg South.