The History of the Rovos Rail

BrendaThe development of the world’s finest vintage train all started at an auction of old coaches in 1986.

A Wilbur Smith, with her own railway coach, Phil Acutt and his passion for trains and Rohan Vos, a successful auto spares businessman all played a role in the tail of Rovos Rail. Anthea, Rohans loving wife said that Rohan was always intrigued with mechanical things. In fact, Rohan started his business on the R400 made off a sale from an old Packard car he rebuilt.

In the same year, Rohan attended an auction to buy a coach or two with the intention of restoring them and hitching the coaches to South African Railways trains for family holidays. Steam train enthusiast Geoff Pethick asked Roan if he could join his venture. Several coaches were purchased and sent to the Society’s yards to be restored.

In December 1986, Rohan found a Class 19D locomotive at a scrap metal yard which was built in 1938. This locomotive was named Bianca, after one of his daughters.

The idea of a vintage train as a business venture was born when permission to run the train was granted, and Rohan started to search suitable coaches.Rohan and Anthea Vos

With the business growing alongside the family, all of the engines have been named after the Vos children
– Brenda, Bianca, Tiffany and Shaun.

The latest impeccably restored and rebuilt engine – a 25 NC engine which has been converted from coal firing to oil – will be christened ‘Marjorie’ by Rhoan’s mother, Mrs Marjorie Vos. This personal involvement of the family gives Rovos its unique appeal.