Alice Station

Alice Station, with its prefabricated wood and iron structure, remains an authentic example of a 19th century village station. To students, it once symbolised the adventure of leaving home to pursue a university education with heavy trunks, farewell baskets of food, and the whiff of more worldly students smoking in the train’s passageway. But it is also associated with a bitter history of state repression and student defiance. Although the Alice Station is now obsolete, it still houses the remnants of a long, complex history.

This photograph captures Alice Railway Station at exactly 9am on Friday 16 November 1945 – why the time of this photograph was so precisely recorded is unknown. It shows passengers leaning from train carriage windows, while others wait to board the train. Onlookers stand to the right, presumably ready to welcome arriving passengers or say their farewells to departing ones. It is likely that a large proportion of those in the photograph are Fort Hare students. © Rama Thumbadoo