A central feature of Bulembu’s landscape is the massive, dilapidated building up on the hill that houses the remains of what was once the world’s longest cableway system. Built in 1939 the cableway stretches between Bulembu and Barberton, South Africa and was used during the time of Havelock Mine to ship asbestos into South Africa for market and to bring coal back to Bulembu to power the town.
Today part of the structure has been renovated for honey manufacturing and part of it is being transformed into a central kitchen for the orphan care program, but most of the station remains untouched. Old cable cars sit overturned atop piles of wood and garbage on the concrete floor, the mouths of open coal shafts remain open despite over a decade passing since they were last fed, wires hang loose, walls crumble and wheelbarrows lay on their sides – long since forgotten.
But this space, with its vaulted ceilings and midtown location caught the attention of Bulembu’s owners long ago as the perfect location for a museum. Today, six years later, a team of construction workers, cleaners and painters led by one of the world’s leading Swazi anthropologists, Bob Forrester, are turning vision into reality.
Renovations and construction on this project are slated to begin in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more photos as the transformation unfolds.