Jerrys Old Engines in South Africa

Misfortune in Old Engine Land - Neville Botha floods - 16th & 17th December 2010

I live next to a small river and it rose to it's highest level in over 40 years. Fortunately my house and other buildings are high up and not in any danger of flooding at all. My only damage was a roof that started leaking and soaked my computer.

        My good friend Neville Botha was not so fortunate. He lives about 6 or 7 kms. downstream from me and was flooded out. I and a few other engine friends spent much of Thursday and Friday trying to move his possessions to safety. He lives in a split level home and most of his house as well as his engine museum/showroom is on the higher level and has never been threatened with flooding since he built there (more than 40 years ago) so we concentrated on the lower level.

        Unfortunately, during a few hours on Thursday night the river rose by about 2.5 metres and entered the top level of his home as well as his workshops and museum. Many of the smaller engines were either fully or partially submerged. The larger Rustons and the Fielding which are mounted on concrete plinths were spared - he also has various vintage cars but apart from an E Type Jag which was flooded, the others came off reasonably lightly.

        I feel devastated for Neville - his collection has been built up over a lifetime and is one of the best in South Africa !

        Making matters worse is that Neville injured his knee earlier in the year and is battling to recover - he has been using crutches for the last few months (he is well into his 70's). Anyway, both he and his wife are very positive people and have accepted what has happened very well. I called in at his place at about midday on Saturday 19th December and he had already drained all the oil and water out of his Petters (his passion) and was starting to get them cleaned up. His son is also helping him and was busy getting the "E" Type cleaned up
and dry.

        This river only has it's source about 50 Kms north of us but due to the spread of urbanisation over the last 30 years or so the annual floods are becoming more severe. There are now more tarred roads and paved areas in it's catchment area as well as buildings so the rain no longer gets absorbed by the earth but rather is channelled to this small river.

                Should anyone want to send a personal message to Neville and Luann feel free to send it to my address and I'll print it out and give it to them. I am sure he will appreciate this.

I took the pictures below after the water had started to recede at about midday on Friday and we had already moved many engines to higher ground outside.

Here is a link to what Neville's Engine Room and Museum usually look like for comparison:

Click on any pic to see a larger version - use your "back" button to return

            The Engine Room and Museum.

Neville surveys the damage. By this time the water was
receding and many of the exhibits had already been moved to higher ground outside.

The Petters on the bench are "Work in Progress" and were spared but the one on the floor was not so lucky.

Lister D and Enfield.

Enfield Marine (maybe it felt quite at home in the water)
with Nevilles Cavanaugh & Darley "Red Devil"
in the background..

Some Petters

Neville's latest Petter - a 1 1/2 HP Acorn top
coupled to a generator was not

The Fielding & Platt was safe.

Petter Atomic

Petter Atomic

Sissons steam engine

The big Ruston was safe

Lister 6-1 and Wolseley

Slavia diesel

The big Ruston only had water just covering it's concrete plinth

Another view of the big Ruston.

The compressor driven by the big Ruston
will probably need to be drained and flushed.

Yet another view of the big Ruston.

The 18 H.P. Ruston.


A general view

What an embarrassing position for any
self respecting little Petter. Hanging
upside down draining water out !!

Lister Bruston Lighting set

Another half drowned Petter.
I think this is a "S" Type.

Nevilles workbench.

Moving a veteran BMW
to higher ground.

These Petters and a Bamford had already
been moved out of the showroom. Luann and a
friend wading in the background.

Ruston & Hornsby PS was safe but the Petter Atomic
on the left will need to be drained and cleaned.

            Other scenes.

Nevilles Engine Room is in this corner - behind
the foreground pine trees. The small window on
the right is in his Museum.

The swimming pool, on the high ground (river is on
the other side -ie. left- of the house) was submerged.
The water level had dropped about 200mm by the
time I took this pic.

The outside wall of the living room (lower level of the house).

Water being siphoned out of the "E" Type.

The view from Nevilles workbench. The water is
up against the outside wall.


Water receding - flowing out of the kitchen.

View of the lower level from the upper level of the house.
Watermark visible on wall. There is a large
anthracite stove completely submerged below
the stone chimney.

This very confused Koi was swimming in the passage.
Poor little bugger probably woke up to find that the
pond he called home had changed drastically overnight.
The Lord alone knows how far upriver he came from.
He is now recovering in Justin Ludewig's
"Koi Hospital Pond" !

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