For many years Bill Hedding was known as the ‘Father of Bryanston’. He played a central role in the development of the suburb and the recording of its history. He was the founder of the now defunct Sandton Heritage Association, a long term city councillor and at one point the Mayor of Sandton. In the late 1970s he gave a speech on the history of Bryanston. Below are a few edited excerpts to give the reader an idea of the origins and development of the suburb.
In a speech given to the Sandton Historical Association in the late 1970s, Councillor Bill Hedding mentioned a very special historical site in the area - a school that managed to survive the onslaught of apartheid legislation and was connected to some of the most influential people in South Africa at the time. It also appears that part of the school is one of the few, if not the only, memorial to US President John F Kennedy in Africa.
During rush hour every day tens of thousands of people experience the slow and maddening commute along William Nicol Drive in northern Johannesburg. The road connects Bryanston, Fourways and many suburbs beyond to Sandton and Hyde Park (and ultimately Rosebank and the Joburg CBD via Jan Smuts Avenue). Given its landmark status today it is hard to imagine that just over sixty years ago no road existed. The following brief excerpt from a speech by Bill Hedding traces the origins of the road that Joburgers love to hate.