In the article below, well-known journalist and Joburg enthusiast, Lucille Davie, explores the layered history of Somerset House. The piece was first published on the City of Joburg's website on 7 November 2003. Be sure to read all the way to the end where Davie provides an inspiring 2017 update. Click here to view more of Davie's work.
In the article below, Adrian de Villiers (Chief Architect Heritage Advisory Services at the Department of Public Works) explores the history and legacy of the brickfields of John J Kirkness. The piece first appeared in the December 2017 edition of The Arcadian. Thank you to the Arcadia Residents and Ratepayers Association (ARRA) for giving us permission to publish.
In a previous article on the Neilson brothers, the author states: “It is still not clear whether the Neilson brothers were South African or potentially foreign photographers who saw a commercial opportunity in photographing the South Africa deep-level mines.”
Earlier this year I wrote a piece highlighting a few amazing places to see the Joburg skyline (click here to view). Since then I have received several requests to do something similar for Sandton so here it is. If you know of any great places not mentioned, please add them in the comments section.
St Stithians School
In the article below, researcher and journalist Lucille Davie, tells the story of Nongoloza, the mythic figure who established the infamous Ninevites gang. The piece was first published on the City of Johannesburg's website on 9 January 2008. Click here to view more of Davie's work.
Historians, researchers and collectors often come across situations of surviving family members having thrown away or having destroyed historical family documents and photographs as they may either have no sentimental interest or simply cannot relate to their relative’s historical past. Sadly, in these instances, no thought is given to donating such documentation / items to charity organisations where researchers and collectors in turn can “scratch” out relevant material to record potential significant historical information that may be contained therein.
In the article below, Lucille Davie unpacks the story of the Foster Gang, a tale that continues to fascinate South Africans. The piece was first published on the City of Johannesburg's website on 3 January 2003. Davie has spent a large part of her life writing about the people and places of Johannesburg. Click here to view more of her work.
In 1889, just three years after the founding of Johannesburg, the finishing touches were being put on a building that would become one of the city's landmarks for seven decades. It rose almost 30m into the sky and was the tallest building in town until the Markham's Building claimed the title in 1897. Considering it dominated the skyline, it is no surprise that it gained the nickname the 'Eiffel Tower of the Rand'.
A few weeks ago I noticed a post in the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation's facebook group highlighting the neglect of 12 Park Lane - Parktown's oldest surviving house (built circa 1895). The comments by concerned members of the community resonated with me as I have watched the historic property deteriorate over the past few years. The garden has been left to grow wild, windows are broken, cracks in the walls continue to spread and a portion of the balcony appears to have collapsed.
Important editor's note: The initiatives mentioned in this article are only proposals. A thorough consultation phase with a spectrum of stakeholders still needs to take place before any plans are approved. The article was unpublished on 13 December 2017 following a request from the Johannesburg Inner City Partnership (JICP). On 24 December 2017 it was republished after the release of a similar article on BusinessTech.
In the article below, Lucille Davie traces the rise and demise of the famous Amawasha in Johannesburg. The piece was first published on the City of Johannesburg's website on 3 April 2006. Click here to view more of Davie's writing.
Main image: A new development is rising on the site once occupied by the Rand Steam Laundries and before that the AmaWasha.
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).
We are honoured to post this wonderful article on the Hillbrow Tower written by journalist and passionate Joburger, Lucille Davie. It was originally published in the Saturday Star on the 4 January 2014. Click here to view more of Davie's writing. The Johannesburg Development Agency continues its work in the area and we're sure all South Africans can't wait until the Tower finally reopens.
Over the years I have photographed hundreds of plaques in South Africa and beyond. Most are easy to find as they are well documented and placed within easy view. Some, on the other hand, are a bit more tricky. Below is my list of five sneaky blue plaques...
1) Charles and Isabelle Lipp
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.
A few years ago, the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation organised a rare tour inside the iconic Parktown mansion Dolobran. Journalist and Johannesburg enthusiast, Lucille Davie was there and compiled the wonderful article below (originally published in the Saturday Star on 3 January 2015). Click here to view more of Davie's work.
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.
In the late 1980s a magnificent statue of a rearing stallion was erected outside the Sandton Civic Centre near the corner of Rivonia and West (just up from where the Gautrain Station is today). It was surrounded by a fountain and became an instant landmark in the rapidly expanding Sandton CBD.
In 2014, a blue plaque was unveiled on Adam Asvat's Pageview home. Lucille Davie, one of Joburg's legendary journalists was there and compiled the following report (originally published in the Saturday Star on 3 May 2014) . Click here to view more of Davie's work.
They tore up the roads. They cut off the water and electricity. They made sand mounds on the sports field so that the community couldn’t play soccer or cricket any more.
Enoch Mankayi Sontonga was born in Uitenhage, Eastern Province (now Eastern Cape) around 1873 as a member of the Xhosa-speaking Mpinga clan of the Tembu tribe. He trained as a teacher at the Lovedale Mission Training College, after which he was sent to a Methodist mission school (unnamed) in Nancefield, near Johannesburg in 1896. He taught here for nearly eight years.