Three Castles Building

In the fascinating article below, journalist Lucille Davie explores the history of four landmark Joburg castles. The piece was first published on the City of Johannesburg's website on 23 July 2003. Click here to view more of Davie's work. Unfortunately, in 2018, the Three Castles Building has deteriorated significantly and remains endangered. Local heritage organisations are concerned by the lack of information about the state of the Kensington Castle.

The Three Castles Building is a landmark historic structure in downtown Johannesburg. It started life as a factory for the production of 'Three Castles' cigarettes with the facade becoming a powerful marketing tool for the brand. Initially 100 female workers were employed to roll the cigarettes but by the late 1890s this role was taken over by machines. According to John Shorten in The Johannesburg Saga, the factory was unable to keep up with demand despite producing over 300 000 cigarettes a day! 

[Originally published 14 March 2015] The Three Castles Building, located a short distance from the ABSA / Barclays precinct in the east of the Joburg CBD, has been in danger for many years. This unique building is a survivor but we fear she may be on her last legs! On a recent visit we noticed that one of the previously bricked up sections has been opened up allowing free access to the property (the building was sealed off at the beginning of 2013). Below are a few images of the neglect that continues to impact this Joburg icon…

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