The Railway Society of Southern Africa was established in 1960, mainly for the benefit of a small group of steam train photographers living in Johannesburg and Cape Town. However, over the years the Society has grown tremendously and branches opened in other centres around the country. At one stage the Railway Society's membership had expanded to almost 1 000 members, about one quarter of whom were resident overseas.
The Natal Branch of the Society was formed in the mid 1960's and despite some early hiccups has developed into the largest and one of the most active RSSA branches.
Not only has the membership increased, but the variety of interests catered for has grown apace, with subjects such as railway preservation, railway modeling, railway history and even diesel and electric locomotives to name but a few. Nowhere is this variety of interests more prominently displayed than in the pages of the RSSA's national journal, S.A. Rail, which is available to members on subscription as well as in selected branches of Exclusive Books and certain hobby shops.
Most of the branches provide regular correspondence in the form of newsletters etc. detailing local activities and also arrange outings to places of specific railway in the form of guest speakers, slide shows, fun quizzes etc. is provided. The RSSA Natal Branch meets on the third Wednesday of every month at the German Club, Westville.
Membership is open to anyone who has an interest in railways, and as with most volunteer organisations, there is always a need for assistance in terms of office bearers etc.
The Natal Branch is the umbrella body for a number of more specialised interest groups, such as Umgeni Steam Railway (USR), Railway History Society (RHS) including a library and museum, Narrow Gauge Preservation, Natal Modelers and the RSSA Natal Photographic Group. The USR is already well known for its sterling efforts at preserving the province's rapidly disappearing railway heritage, whilst the RHS operates the Society's extensive library at Inchanga station. The modelers' keep the interest in miniature trains alive by operating various layouts at Inchanga station whenever USR trains are run.