An innovative attraction in Elgin in the Western Cape, is set to entice tourists to the region.
The Elgin Railway Market, which opened on June 16, is a ‘steampunk station market’ that hosts local vendors, live music, and a steam train that operates a few times a month in partnership with Ceres Railway Company.
It is the brainchild of Roger Orpen, a businessman who was inspired by the railway-side setting of the old apple warehouse from which the station was converted. Orpen’s fascination with steam trains and the industrial age, along with the rail networks spanning the world, led to the creation of a space where art deco meets the Victorian era, and is unlike any other in South Africa.
“I moved to Elgin a couple of years ago, and I started to reimagine this intriguing old barn. It was far from easy to buy the building and unbundle the red tape, but I felt sure there was something special in store,” says Orpen.
It started as a studio with fittings and décor and Orpen brought in local artisans, as he was committed to using local suppliers wherever possible. The second phase of the project was the introduction of the steam train, which is a great drawcard for both children and adults, who can see its arrival from the station platform or the market’s leisure deck, which overlooks the railway.
A diverse range of food vendors are on site, from curries and pub-style foods, to health dishes and local specialities such as jaffels, vetkoek and biltong. Live music plays throughout the weekend, with a children’s play area currently under construction, which will include climbing walls, ziplines, jungle gyms and roundabouts.
During the week, locals and working visitors can take advantage of the hot-desk zone with free WiFi, plug points and printer facilities.
Beyond the market are Elgin and Grabouw’s famed wine farms and attractions, which offer visitors an excellent experience of the local area.
The railway market is open from Fridays from 16h00 to 20h00, Saturday, Sundays and weekdays from 09h00 to 17h00.