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Railway market draws tourists

Elgin in the Western Cape is drawing in the crowds by road and rail. The Elgin Railway Market in Grabouw opened its doors on Saturday 16 June.

It’s the brainchild of businessman Roger Orpen, who converted the old apple warehouse into a bustling station market boasting local vendors, live music and a gateway to the beautiful Overberg town.

Inspired by the barn’s railway side setting, Orpen took his creative cues from the invention of steam and the industrial age, milestones accompanied by the rapid development of rail networks across the world. Creating a beautiful space where art deco meets Victorian, the market 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,” says Orpen.

“It was far from easy to buy the building and unbundle the red tape, but I felt sure there was something special in store.”

Only local artisans worked in the studio and Orpen is committed to using local suppliers where possible.

The next step in Orpen’s plan was to bring a steam train to the market, which he now does a few times a month in partnership with the Ceres Rail Company. The whistle and steam of the arriving train is a must-see for children and adults.

Visitors to the market can greet the train on the station platform or view its arrival from the market’s leisure deck overlooking the railway.

Once in the venue, market visitors can choose from food vendors, healthy food, sweet treats and so much more.

Ground Central Coffee serves home ground brews and roastery Pater Tom offers flavoursome beans, while the upstairs wine shop Sovinho stocks excellent Overberg wines.

A variety of retail offerings can be found on the mezzanine and ground floor with jewellery from Ruby Rose and Shelley Taylor Designs, leather goods from Lotus Leather, previously loved clothing from Vintage Salvage, pottery from The Potter at Almenkerk and at HandMaiden Crafts, wooden pieces from JAC Wood Crafts and the Valley Woodworms Project.

The market has live music throughout the weekend, and is in the process of constructing a children’s play space with climbing walls, ziplines and an area to hire for parties. Jungle gyms and roundabouts are currently keeping the little ones happy.

During the week, locals and working visitors can take advantage of the hot desk zone with free wi-fi, plug points and printer facilities. Ground Central Coffee remains open to fuel Elgin’s workforce.

Those curious about exploring Elgin’s famed wine farms and attractions can check in at the info kiosk for more information, where local tour operators Elgin Leisure Tours operate from. Contact them on 082 460 6046 to arrange a tour in a vintage car.

Elgin and Grabouw boast a wide selection of B&Bs, hotels, glamp sites and self-catering accommodation.

The Elgin Railway Market is open Fridays 16:00 to 20:00, Saturdays 09:00 to 20:00 and Sundays 09:00 to 17:00 and the work space is open during the week 09:00 to 17:00.

Free parking is available.

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