Gauteng

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.

In the article below, well-known journalist Lucille Davie explores the rich social history of the Bantu Men's Social Centre and Dorkay House in downtown Johannesburg. Both buildings have received blue plaques since her article was first published on the City of Joburg's website on 2 November 2006. Click here to view more of Davie's work.

A short distance from the modern Fourways CBD lies a highly significant gem from another era... an old house that once belonged to the Van der Walt brothers who farmed watermelons in the area.

In the article below, journalist Lucille Davie uncovers some of the powerful and painful history of Sophiatown. She highlights the origins of the suburb, its vibrant cultural scene and the tragedy of the forced removals. The piece was originally published on the City of Joburg's website on 20 March 2003.

Since June 2000 more than R21-million in land compensation claims has been paid out to ex-Sophiatown residents. This adds up to 544 claims of R40 000 each.

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“.

Killarney is one of the great historic suburbs of Johannesburg. With its majestic buildings from different eras, there is a great case for it to be declared a heritage area. The article below, written by journalist Lucille Davie, is packed with fascinating details on the people, history and architecture of a majestic neighbourhood. The piece was originally published on the City of Joburg's website on 18 January 2012. Click here to view more of Davie's work.

The passages below, taken from the City of Joburg's heritage inventory form, reveal the captivating history behind the Indian War Memorial. The three metre high sandstone memorial stands at the summit of the Observatory Ridge with majestic views over the surrounding suburbs.

 

Established during 1786, Graaff-Reinet is the fourth oldest magistrate district in South Africa. At the time, this town was also the most important Eastern Cape based interior centre of trade in South Africa in that it was on the route of many travellers, mainly to and from the Algoa Bay harbour.

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.

I really enjoyed reading the piece by Lucille Davie on the Hillbrow Tower (click here to view). As with many others, I watched in awe as it went up. There was this orange plastic around the top bit where the concrete was being poured. The more concrete, the higher went the orange bit until it got to where the “double disc” is now.

In the feel good article below, journalist Lucille Davie describes the epic return of Joburg's first stamp mills to the area where they were originally installed in 1885. The article was first published on the City of Joburg's website on 21 May 2009. Click here to view more of Davie's writing.

It always feels good when something is returned to where it originally belonged. So it is with the stamp mills owned by Joburg's first gold prospectors, Fred and Harry Struben.

As a callow teenager, Joseph Kirkman left an indelible mark on the annals of early Natal history. He is remembered for his efforts in assisting the American missionaries to establish a bridgehead in Zululand and his subsequent heroic exploits in assisting the evacuation of those missionaries following the turbulence consequent on the Retief massacre.

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