Streets and Suburbs

Cultural history is plagued by the plague. The Black Death stalks through history pages captivating and horrifying us at the same time, even Shakespeare used the threat of the plague in his plays to curse his characters. Most modern humans see the plague as something of the past, a historical disease far removed from modern day living and experience.

However the plague has once again raised its head.

In the article below, Norah Henshilwood traces the early history of Claremont and reveals some of her memories of the suburb. The piece first appeared in the 1976 edition of Restorica, the old journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation, today the Heritage Association of South Africa. Thank you to the University of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish.

The weekend of the 24/25 June 2017 saw the launch of the Jozi Walks initiative of the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA). Individuals, community organizations, tourism companies and NGOs joined hands in offering a series of free and innovative walks through Johannesburg, north, south, east and west. It was exciting, fun and  showed off Jozi at its best over a two day celebration of the Jane Jacobs walk my city philosophy.  

Potchefstroom is home to the longest avenue of oak trees in South Africa. The grand oaks stretch for almost 7km and contribute to the character and beauty of the city. Recent research indicates that the number of trees has declined from 710 to 530 and certain sections are in a deplorable state. In the article below Lennie Gouws explores the history and current state of iconic Oak Avenue.

Concerns about the condition of the oak trees of Potchefstroom have infuriated the people of Potchefstroom over the decades.

In 1983 J. G. Brand, City Engineer of Cape Town, penned this brief article about Government Avenue, the oldest pedestrian thoroughfare in South Africa. The piece appeared in the 1983 edition of Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). Thank you to the University of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish.  

It is hard to imagine that the small park adjacent to Redhill School and opposite the Morningside Shopping Centre in Sandton was once a major 'outspan' where weary travellers (and oxen of course) rested on the way to Johannesburg. The following article, first published in the 1984 Sandton Historical Association journal, brings the story alive.

An old 'outspan', at least 150 years old, has just recently become a new Sandton Park, and will be preserved forever as an open place. This is Outspan Park in Morningside.

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.

Part of Kitchener Avenue, in Kensington, Johannesburg has been replaced by Albertina Sisulu Highway. Perhaps soon, Rhodes Park, Roberts Avenue and Milner Crescent will be renamed to burnish the heroes of more recent history? Significantly, Cecil John Rhodes statue on the UCT campus has been recently vandalized in a fierce show of anti- colonialism.

To the north of Johannesburg lies a hill of great historical, archaeological and geological importance. In the article below Lilith Wynne explores the archaeological aspects of the Lone Hill site. The article first appeared in the 1988 Journal of the Sandton Historical Association, two years after Professor Revil Mason made his 'discovery'.

His name is immortalised in one of Johannesburg's most well-known streets, it is inscribed on the foundation stone of the landmark Johannesburg Library and it is painted on his old office which is now home to the popular Arts on Main in the Maboneng Precinct. But who was D.F. Corlett? The following article published in the South African Builder in September 1923 gives some insight into the man.

 

Travel back in time to 1886. Gold has just been discovered on the Witwatersrand, and the koppies and veld between Pretoria and Heidelberg, home to a handful of boer families, their tenants and workers, are starting to attract the attention of the world. The dusty track connecting the Viljoen homestead, nestled below the ridge among abundant orchards, to Pretoria has been extended south and west to the city of tents which has mushroomed on the uitvalgrond between the farms Doornforntein, Langlaagte and Braamfontein.

Craighall is a popular, and some would argue trendy, suburb to the north of Johannesburg. It is hard to imagine that it was once the scene of dusty roads, dairies and a famous lake and hotel. In 1987 Sheila Timmermans compiled a short history of Craighall (and Craighall Park) which was published in the Johannesburg Historical Foundation's Journal Between the Chains. The article contains some fascinating insights into the forgotten spaces and places of the suburb. 

Over the last few months many Joburgers will have noticed that the inner city has some new street names. Although it may seem that these are quick decisions, the opposite is true. The City of Johannesburg via it Directorate of Arts, Culture and Heritage follows a rigorous process. Below are a few excerpts from various reports compiled over the last few years to give readers a deeper understanding of the process.

Most people are familar with Douglasdale (the suburb and the famous milk brand of course) but who was the Douglas in Douglasdale? Below are a few excerpts from the 1980 journal of the Sandton Historical Association answering this question.

Douglasdale is situated in the north of the municipality of Sandton, west of Bryanston and just south of Fourways, with the western boundary following the Klein Jukskei river.

Who was the Marshall in Marshallstown, Marshall Street and Marshall Square? How did the suburb Melrose in northern Johannesburg get its name? Where did the name of the famous Glenhove Road which leads into Rosebank come from? If you are intrigued by any of these questions please read on. The article below gives an overview of the life of Henry Brown Marshall one of the pioneers of Johannesburg.

Malcolm Wilson returns to tell the fascinating story of an historic road just a few kilometres from the Sandton CBD. He unpacks the layers and personalities associated with Panners Lane and reveals the big changes that have happened in the area over the last few decades. [Originally published in 2014)

In November 1987 members of the Johannesburg Historical Foundation paid a visit to the 'village' of Parkview. I use the word 'village' deliberately because this has always been a friendly suburb with a particular character of its own where I lived as a child and never visit without a feeling of nostalgia. After all, don't street names like Kilkenny, Kerry, Roscommon, Westmeath, Kildare and Wicklow evoke visions of somewhere green as shamrocks, fresh and soft as Irish mist, where the road rises to meet you and the sun shines warm upon your face?

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.

We are very grateful to Trish and Murray Myhill for sending us "The Mill Hill Story". The article was compiled about fifteen years ago by the late Jilly Hayes, former mayoress of Sandton, and explores the rural roots and development of this upmarket Johannesburg suburb. Mill Hill is located to the west of Bryanston and to the north of Randburg.

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