With a collection spanning more than a century, the James Hall Museum of Transport deserves the title of "the largest and most comprehensive museum of land transport in South Africa", which it conferred upon itself. Go and be gobsmacked at the number of contraptions that have been dreamed up for getting around Johannesburg (It is on Turf Road, Wemmer Pan).
The exhibit of animal-drawn vehicles covers the years 1870 to 1910. Much as modern cars all have names for specific builds, so too among the carts of yesteryear are the Surrey, the Governess and a Victoria, which was mostly used as a taxi in towns and cities. The Zeederberg coach on display is a replica, the original being housed at Museum Africa. There's even a horse-drawn tram that was in service until 1906.
Also of local interest are the Cape carts, in two-seater as well as four-seater variants. A prototype of the all-purpose vehicle, the Kakebeenwa (jaw-bone wagon) has gone down in history for its role in the Voortrekker migration. Rounding out this part of the collection are a number of other ox-drawn wagons.
The cycles on display include penny-farthings, an early tandem and tricycles for riders of all sizes. In the motorised two-wheeler section are bikes by the likes of Levi, Birmingham Small Arms and German manufacturer Neckarsulm, but there really isn't enough space in this post to do justice to the thematic displays and exhibits in the different halls.
For the little boy inside every man of a certain generation, one section is dedicated to fire-fighting equipment. These fire engines range from a 1913 Merryweather Steam Pump to the 1947 Dennis boasting an 8-cylinder Rolls Royce engine. There is also a 1936 Magirus Deutz with a ladder that can be extended to a height of 45 metres.
In the buses and coaches section is a 1952 RT London Bus. This is still in use, ferrying passengers on sightseeing tours across Johannesburg. The 1958 GUY double-decker diesel bus might have been lost to posterity, except for the fact that the museum acquired it from the now defunct Durban Historical Transport Society.
Among more than 2,500 exhibited items, the museum boasts a noteworthy car collection. There's a Model-T Ford, a 1963 Porsche 356 C Coupé and a black 1959 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. Of all these, the 1900 Clement-Panhard is the oldest. One of the electric models on display is an example of the Joule, a five-seater passenger car built by Cape Town's own Optimal Energy.
Johannesburg owes the James Hall Museum of Transport to the late Jimmie Hall, a car nut who established it together with the City Council in 1964. Entrance to the museum is free 7 days a week except for being closed for lunch from 12 to 1 p.m.