A new attraction has popped up in Elgin in the Western Cape and it’s drawing in the crowds – by road and rail. The Elgin Railway Market opened on 16 June 2018. It’s the brainchild of businessman Roger Orpen, who converted the old apple warehouse into a bustling steampunk 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.
Sweeping staircases, detailed metal archways, light fittings and wall sconces, raw brick and stone, black metal framed panes and a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-style fan system of belts and pulleys result in a collective double take as visitors unsuspectingly enter the space.
Says Orpen, “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.”
Working with designer Corban Warrington, Orpen eventually set up his own workshop to complete all the fittings and décor elements that brought the project to life. Only local artisans worked in the studio and Orpen is committed to using local suppliers wherever 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) and a bucket list experience for the passengers who sign up to take the ride. 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 purveying everything from fragrant curries to schwarmas, pizza, ribs, and burgers as well as sample Mexican dishes, pies, tarts, quiches, cheeses, breads, dips, pates and dolmades. Health conscious treats include fresh juices and low carb breads with various fillings as well as local items such jaffels, vetkoek, pancakes and a soup of the day. Visitors can also stop in for a snack from the biltong stall.
Sweet treats are abundant, including home-made cakes and ice-cream and waffles-on-a-stick. A bar serves local wines, beer and cider and an artisanal gin bar serves up local craft gins. Ground Central Coffee serves home ground brews, whilst the upstairs wine shop, stocks excellent Overberg wines.
A variety of retail offerings can be found on the mezzanine and ground floor with jewellery, leather goods, pottery, wooden pieces and freshly cut flowers to choose from.
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.
For more information visit www.elginrailwaymarket.co.za