Johannesburg

This piece was written on Day 1 of our 21 day stay home in the fight against the Corona virus. I have decided to try to learn something new about our garden and home and to share my writing with Heritage Portal readers during this time of quiet introspection and anxiety. We may discover that the small things within our own multiple worlds matter more than the large events beyond our control.

You may have noticed a quaint stone wall with two decrepit wooden gates on Louis Botha Avenue between Acorn Lane and Death Bend. Or perhaps the row of magnificent plane trees just behind the wall caught your attention as you navigated this most notorious of Joburg roads. If you were brought to a stop in traffic, you may have even looked beyond the wall and the trees and seen an imposing double storey property in the distance, and wondered how it came to be built here.

 

The Stations of the Cross Sculptures in the St Andrew’s School for Girls’ Chapel were a donation from the Matric Class of 1978. The fourteen sculptures depict events in the Passion of Christ, from His condemnation to death to His entombment. Prayerful meditation using the Stations of the Cross through the period of Lent is traditional in many Christian churches.

The sculptures were originally in the Nuns’ Chapel of the Kensington Sanatorium, built in 1897.

 

I was very sad to learn of the passing of the architect Robin Fee a few days ago and especially sorry that I had not expressed to him in his lifetime my thanks for his role in the conservation of Joburg’s heritage.
 
I would like to pay tribute to Robin Fee for two extraordinary instances where he put Johannesburg’s old buildings above any profit he or his firm could make if they had upheld their clients’ demands for demolition.
 

We are honoured to publish a portion of the St David's Jubilee Book 'A Courageous Journey' revealing the fascinating early history of this well known Johannesburg school. Unless otherwise stated all photos are from the book. Copies of 'A Courageous Journey' can be ordered from Julie Egenrieder, researcher/archivist at St David's - egenriederj@STDavids.co.za.

During the reign of Queen Victoria the then British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli once told the House of Commons, ‘More men have been knocked off balance by gold than by love” but to be fair to the man he also said on another occasion “We are all born for love. It is the principle of existence, and its only end”.

I found Mike Alfred's article about Jonathan and Geoff Klass absolutely fascinating as I have known Collectors Treasury and the Klass Brothers from the time they started up in business at what we now known as 44 Stanley Avenue (click here to read the article). Those were the days when for a young collector recently returned to Johannesburg there were wonderful book bargains and a great shared joy in finding good books. I have watched the business grow to the pre

Lesley and I first met Helen at a party, when some woman with wild hair and very red lips rushed up to us and informed us that we would be buying a copy of her book and that she would be delivering it to our house that next day and that the price would be R50. At that stage I was still a student and her price took a fairly large chunk out of our savings, and for many years thereafter it remained the single, most expensive book on our bookshelves. As I soon came to realise, Helen Aron took no prisoners, and let no grass grow beneath her feet.
 

On the 14th of December 2019, Sydney, Australia, opened a new light-rail tram service between the CBD and Randwick which is to the south-east of the City. There is also another service to the south-west of the City which has been in operation for some years. The new service goes right past the famous Sydney Cricket Ground and the Royal Randwick Racecourse.

 I rode the full length of the new line recently and it is the trams themselves that I want to comment on.

Heritage activists have reported that the Rotunda in downtown Johannesburg is being vandalised. The iconic roof is being stripped and if action is not taken soon the condition of the building will deteriorate rapidly. Passionate enthusiasts are trying to get the owners (PRASA) to allocate more security to the site.

 

The author and poet Mike Alfred followed up his book Johannesburg Portraits: From Lionel Phillips to Sibongile Khumalo (Jacana, 2003) with a second series of writing about contemporary Johannesburg people a few years later. In a series of interviews and reflections Alfred captured the pen portraits of people who he encountered in Johannesburg, people who made a difference to and who had an impact on the kaleidoscope of Johannesburg in the first decade of the 21st century. Mike’s book is about their lives, their achievements and their relationship with th

In the article below, journalist Lucille Davie takes a journey around Lindfield House, one of Joburg's unique historic attractions. The piece was first published on the City of Johannesburg's website on 19 January 2011Click here to view more of Davie's work.

Back in Victorian times the wealthy didn’t mess with security: they posted an armed guard, in the form of the footman, to sleep where the silverware was stashed - in the butler’s pantry.

I snapped the image above from the Station Street entrance of the Braamfontein East Campus  - exiting the Wits gates. Photo taken on Sunday 17th November 2019. It reminded me of how much of a city university Wits is and how layered the city is in the buildings around us. 
 
In the foreground are the old corrugated iron semi-detached workers cottages (now the Performing Arts Administration of Wits’ School of Arts). This was once a home of an artisan - we know they were here as artisan’s residences of turn of the 20th century Braamfontein. 
 

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