The James Hall Museum of Transport gives visitors a rare glimpse of Johannesburg's as well as South Africa's land transport history, dating back more than a century. Below is a brief description of what the museum houses and where the exhibits are located.


The main body of the hall holds an outstanding array of motorcars Vintage, Post Vintage, Pre War and Post war models. It is interesting to note 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 7mph.

The driver blew a bone whistle to warn pedestrians of the Tram's approach. The electric Trams on display are all double-decker, including the last Tram, which ran in 1961.


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 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 vehicles are exhibited. On display are a replica Zeederberg Coach (the original can be seen in Museum Africa), a Voortrekker wagon more commonly known as a Kakebeenwa and various types of ox-wagons. A team of 16 oxen could pull loads of 2,700 kg.

The balance of this area is used as temporary exhibition space for various displays from time to time.
Daimler 3-axle
Photograph: Richard Gillatt
Travelling Library
Note the Johannesburg registration TJ9956
Photograph: Richard Gillatt
AEC Regent V Diesel number 839
Note the Johannesburg registration TJ171-548
Photograph: Richard Gillatt

The first section is devoted to the history of Bicycles and Motorcycles. The Velocipede or Boneshaker of c1869 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 motorcycles 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 range from a 1913 Merryweather Steam Pump to the 1947 Dennis with an 8-cylinder Rolls-Royce engine.

Amoung these Fire Engines is a 1936 Magirus Duitz with an extension ladder of 45 meters.

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.
Merryweather Fire engine

The James Hall Museum has a world-reknowned collection of steam vehicles on display. It 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 yards. 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 is also to be seen.

The Electric Trolley Buses on display come from Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and Pretoria while the diesel buses are from Johannesburg, Cape Town and London.
1886 Family Carriage
Entrance to the Museum is FREE - Donations are welcome

The James Hall Museum of Transport

Johannesburg, South Africa