At the time that the farmer, Winston le Roux, embarked on building this cable way in 1967 on his farm in the Baviaanskloof (Eastern Cape) he was 33 years old. Winston set out identifying the right spot for the cable way by consulting aerial photographs that was available from the Department of Agriculture. This was before GPS’s or drones arrived on the scene!
Winston sourced the components of the cable from the nearby EP Cement quarries at Lime Bank, Loerie who operated an 11 kilometer cable way from the quarry at Lime Bank to Loerie station. The quarry did maintenance at regular intervals and some of the components of the cable way became redundant and Winston saw the opportunity to salvage it and build his cable way.
More than 1 200 meters of cable were needed to cross the gorge at ground level. To bring the first wire cable through the gorge took him more than six weeks and Winston only used his regular farm workers to accomplish this mammoth task, using hand signals and binoculars to communicate.
Winston had two farms on either side of the gorge and had to traverse two very steep passes of a distance of 48 kilometers to get produce to the Port Elizabeth markets. A one-way trip with a fully loaded truck took 3.5 hours of concentration and exhaustion. The cable way reduced this time to a mere 12 minutes. As far as it is known this is the only private cable way in South Africa. If you look closely you will notice the lettering W le R in the concrete of the anchor pole.
The span across the gorge is 410 meters and 287 meters deep and when you compare this with the Bloukrans bridge at Storms river which is 216 metres above the river bed with a span of 272 meters it is even a greater accomplishment.
Hats off to Winston le Roux! He surely is a legend of the Baviaanskloof.
The full story can be read in the book Beautiful Baviaans.