Barberton Branch Line
The Kaap goldfields in the district of Barberton had been established in 1884. When initially surveyed the Eastern Line was meant to pass by Barberton but after a subsequent survey the alignment of the NZASM Eastern Line was taken directly to Kaapmuiden. However there was local agitation to have Barberton connected by rail. Surveys undertaken by the NZASM had identified the difficult terrain and subsequent high cost of the line, so there was no enthusiasm for the venture. Local entrepreneurs Lewis and Marks with Frank Watkins created a syndicate to construct the line and to this end contracted Pettegrew & Co. The same difficulties that beset the building of the Eastern Line in the Lowveld prevailed - difficult terrain, malaria and tsetse fly - in this case exacerbated by heavy rains and flooding in 1895, which damaged the two Kaap River bridges, then still under construction. The contractors floundered, and the Watkins Syndicate terminated the contract and dissolved the syndicate. The NZASM had no recourse but to take over the construction, which was completed in 1896.
Artefacts (accessed 28 April 2016).