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  • Writer's picture Kester Eddy

The Peddler Cyclist, Trees and Train

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

Every Picture Tells a Story (Don't it?) -13 - UPDATED with answers

Time for another steam-sociological photo. What can I say without giving away the location? This laid-back looking scene is from September or October 1975. As you may guess, much has changed since then. Winds of Change and all that.

It is in a land rich with minerals, indeed the railway shown here is not in the national system. It serves a mine and deep below the cyclist and myself there are probably miners at work.

In truth, I don't actually know if he's a peddlar, maybe the big box is just for carrying his tools, or clothes. Or Home for all I know. It just went well in the title, but it feels as if he is.

I was going to write that the trees were willows, but wasn't sure, and I knew if I'd got it wrong, there's bound to be expert among you who'd be quick to correct me

I'm not even exactly sure where this photo was taken in the country all these years later, but I think I've got it right in my memory. Some historians say a war was fought over this province a century or more ago to decide which power controlled the wealth down below.

Anyway, you can have a day to guess before I update the post.

(Friday. Apologies - I've not yet put the answer up yet, because I'm trying to find the negatives/contact sheets in order, hopefully, to nail down the precise location myself.)

UPDATE - Tuesday. I have searched for the contact sheet for this photo to try to place it accurately - but can't find the negatives' box - and as I can't expect anyone to wait any longer, will post it as I remember it.

This photo resulted in an array of posited answers, from Russia via Yugoslavia and Spain to Africa. Intriguingly, David Kirkby managed to use an electron microscope on the image, and reckoned the tricycling man is wearing a uniform and is probably some sort of postman or the like. Could be David, I'd never noticed this.

Among those that guessed more or less correctly was Owen Brison, who pondered the sparse collection of clues carefully and wrote:

"An actual war (but not WWI presumably) fought over the province a century or more ago? That is probably a major clue for some, but I'm not too clued-up on that sort of thing. Of course, Macmillan gave the Winds of Change speech in S Africa (and, according to Wikipedia, in Ghana before that), so we must be talking about Africa.

He then did some meticulous detective work on what we can see of the locomotive and suggested it had to be "somewhere in southern Africa; maybe one of the private colliery lines in S. Africa, or, failing that, Angola or Moçambique?"

Tom Chilton said: Winds of Change - South Africa. And Alex Faludy lashed into me for some reason and said it had to be the former Transvaal or Orange Free State, in S Africa, as the Boer War was fought over those two states. (Or Anglo-Boer war, as it is referred to over there, Alex.) But both Tom an Alex knew I'd been there, and so they are at an advantage.

Then Owen Brison, continuing his locomotive sleuthing, came back to say that he reckoned it might be a certain company which had mines near Springs, on the Rand, east of Johannesburg.

Well, Owen, I think you might be spot on - I wish I could confirm, but we (that's my pal Jake and I) did, indeed, spend time around Springs (I don't know it the place is still called Springs - so many names have been changed since 1975) and as I remember, this is - or was - on top of a gold mine. Sadly, I can't actually remember taking this photo, or even printing it.

I like the mood, though. Wish I could show the man on the tricycle the pic, he makes it work.

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Feb 21, 2021

I have no idea where this is, but what an amazing picture. You're right. Definitely up my alley. I particularly like the way in which the smoke filters through the trees, and the contrast between light and shade - allowing us to enter the picture and capturing the detail which an amateur would have lost.


Feb 12, 2021

Somewhere in Russia


Feb 09, 2021

Was this Roumania - a bit seized off Bulgaria in the Balkan Wars?

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