This small handbook was literally a pocket filler. It was an annual Johannesburg City publication Vade-Mecum. The meaning of the word, Vade-Mecum, is the Latin expression "go with me". It is a small slender volume issued by the City Treasurer's Department and by 1949 was in its 19th edition. What a contrast to current glossy city reports and promotional books.
Fire is the most destructive and frightening of all elements. A Johannesburg heritage home in Parktown, Le Tholonet, at 6 3rd Avenue, was lost to fire on 17th July 2018. On Wednesday this week Clive Chipkin and I embarked on an expedition to discover and if possible photograph Parktown and Saxonwold homes of a certain period. We were in search of the Cape Dutch architectural style and its variants in the old elite northern suburbs of Johannesburg.
Clarendon Circle was a landmark intersection of the north east route into Johannesburg. It was a circle of note located where East Avenue crossed Empire, Bruce, Twist and Klein Streets. There was an island on East Avenue separating the traffic lanes with an attractive line up of palm trees and shrubs.
On 26 July 2018 concerned stakeholders including representatives from the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation (Kathy Munro), the Kensington Residents Association (Isabella Pingle) and the Johannesburg East Joint Plans committee (Andre Marais) met with Eric Itzkin, Zoleka Ntobeni, Councillor Carlos Da Rocha and Cebo Mhlongo of the City. We paid a site visit to the Bez Valley War Memorial.
If you wish to depart this earth in a puff of smoke, Johannesburg has just the place for you. It has an excellent state of the art crematorium that has kept up with the times. Here is a heritage building with a difference. I have known about the crematorium since I was a child and attended a cremation service for the father of a friend.
This is Number 12 Park Lane. This property lies between Clarendon Place and Park Lane. It is a property that abuts Hillbrow; it is the other side of the fence to the grand Reya Vaya rapid bus transport system. James Ball reported on the disgraceful state of the property in November 2017 (click here to view). Alas there has been no improvement. How very sad!
The Drum Café has established itself as the foremost entertainment destination in drumming. For more than a decade the Drum Café has successfully offered corporate team building drumming events and performances. Its shows have gone round South Africa and been taken abroad. Drumming has become something of a South African export.
On Saturday morning 16th June 2018, I attended a Johannesburg East Plans committee meeting. Our work is about heritage preservation while considering appropriate changes and new developments. Isabella Pingle, the representative of the Kensington Ratepayers and Residents Association, placed a photo before us showing the damage recently done to the Bez Valley World War I Memorial. The Memorial has effectively been destroyed despite the recent efforts of the local councillor Carlos Da Rocha and the community to clean the small park.
The recent Jozi Walks weekend brought a new verve and vibe to Hillbrow. Gerard Bester and his team of extraordinary young people of Hillbrow showed off the good, the funky and the dramatic side of Hillbrow life. It was a Hillbrow experience of note! Both the Saturday and the Sunday tours were fully booked. It is a first for the Theatre Community Centre and for the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation.
I wrote about the Johannesburg Lithograph (circa 1937) below by Charles Ernest Peers in a recent article on The Heritage Portal - click here to view. Tracking down Peers’ presence in Johannesburg at this time led me in search of Peers, the artist. Peers was a notable and prolific artist in his lifetime. He is mentioned in the Esme Berman (1993) and has a biographical listing in Grania Ogilvie (1988).
This wonderful album was published by Paul Schaefer and Company of Cape Town, a well-known compiler of souvenir books. The cover photograph in the oval inset shows the original Park Station which came to Johannesburg from the Netherlands in 1896. The station was designed by Jacob Klinkhammer. It was the point of arrival for visitors to Johannesburg in the early 20th century so this image is an appropriate entry portal to the town.
On Saturday 7th April 2018, the excellent Joburg Collectable Book Fair at the Rand Club saw at least ten dealers displaying their books, antiquarian maps and prints. Many rare and unusual Johannesburg books were on sale. The event was a huge success with visitors able to enjoy tours of the Club led by Brett McDougall and Brian McKechnie, musical entertainment by Tony Bentell and Selwyn Klass and several interesting talks by Isabel Hofmeyr, Hamilton Wende, James Findlay and Kathy Munro.
My acknowledgement and huge thanks to Clive Chipkin, Marc Latilla and Alkis Doucakis who generously gave me their views and drove me to improvements and further research. Thank you.
Over the holidays I was given a unique Christmas gift by my friend, Peter Digby who shares my enthusiasm for Johannesburg heritage items. It was a single old yellowed newspaper page, dated 9th November 1965, from The Star Newspaper. The page was saved in a cupboard of the Digby home because it carried an unusual story. The headline was: “Fine old stone in a new wall“.
Drawing on a rare collection of souvenir photographic printed albums of Johannesburg, dating from the period approximately 1890 to 1910, we are able to build up a composite picture of Johannesburg's main thoroughfares, buildings and street life. These visual images show how Johannesburg's founding and growth coincided with the coming of age of photography.
An interesting collection of Johannesburg, Transvaal and South African printed photographic albums has recently come to light*. Kathy Munro was lucky enough to be able to photograph over four hundred images from the various albums including some from an 1892 volume on Johannesburg produced by the Davies Brothers. A few of these early images along with notes from Munro have been reproduced in the article below.
7th November 2017 is the centenary of the Russian Revolution but also of the birth of one of South Africa’s greatest 20th century daughters, Helen Suzman. On Friday 3rd November a small group of Johannesburg citizens and family members of the Suzman clan gathered to remember and pay tribute to Helen Suzman, with the unveiling of a blue plaque on the pavement at 13 Eton Road Parktown. The plaque was unveiled by Helen’s daughters, Frances and Patricia (Francie and Patty).
Flo Bird, Founder of the Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust and founder member of the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation was a surprise guest speaker at the 17th annual symposium of the Heritage Association of South Africa held at Heidelberg last week. Flo’s speech was given at the remarkable NZASM constructed Heidelberg Station.
On Saturday 22nd July, a Johannesburg Heritage Foundation Blue Plaque was unveiled at Windybrow. 2017 saw the reopening of Windybrow as an Arts Centre under the auspices of the Market Theatre Foundation.
Below is the first article in a series on the Brixton Cemetery by Kathy Munro. The piece begins by giving the reader a general understanding of the purpose, origin and meaning of cemeteries before delving into the history and significance of Brixton Cemetery. It finishes by highlighting the shocking current state of the cemetery and attempts by local groups to take action. Future articles will look at the epitaphs and symbolism of the Brixton Cemetery as well as stories behind the graves and family memorials.