Farming Heritage

At five o clock in the afternoon of Saturday 19 December 1925, a wisp of smoke was seen to rise lazily from the thatched roof near the kitchen of the Groot Constantia Manor House. Moments later the huge thatch roof caught fire creating an uncontrollable inferno. With no brandsolder to contain the flames, the blaze crashed through to the boarded ceilings of the rooms below and through that to the main floor.

John Lincoln's wonderful book 'Stories from a Diamond Mine'  tells the story of the Premier Mine (today the Cullinan Mine) and the village that grew up around it. We are honoured to be able to reproduce the book as a series (click here to view index). Below is the first installment which traces the history of Minnaars' Farm and reveals the complex story of how the land was acquired by Thomas Cullinan.

Irene is a wonderful village located less than twenty kilometres south of Pretoria. Visitors can feel the history around them whether staying at a local hotel, visiting the Smuts House Museum or touring the working farm. Residents are proud of the area's rich history and rightly so! Below are a few edited passages revealing the early history of Irene Farm. A longer version of the article appeared in a 1961 edition of South African Panorama.

 

Ganzekraal is a farm dating back to the early 1700s. It was a key farm in the Groene Kloof (as the area north of Rietvlei and all the way to Geelbek on the Langebaan Lagoon was referred to in the time of the VOC) and is significant as part of the network of farms and buiteposte that stretched the VOC influence all the way from the Castle to Saldanha Bay.

The aerial view of the old Borrowdale Farmhouse and outbuildings is truly remarkable. Today the area is dotted with established trees and multi-million rand homes so it is hard to imagine the rural landscape of the past. In the article below Valerie Gordon-Bennett shares some of her memories of growing up on Borrowdale Farm before and during the early days of Sandton. The article first appeared in the 1994 annual magazine of the Sandton Historical Association.

 

[Originally published in 2014] This wonderful article, written by Malcolm Wilson, describes the journeys of early hunters, settlers and prospectors as well as the development of Driefontein Farm on land which is now just a few kilometres from 'Africa's richest square mile'.

Early Settlers and Prospectors

The following article, highlighting two remarkable heritage sites south of Johannesburg, was compiled by Calvin Montgomery of the Southern Suburbs Heritage Society in 2013

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