Johannesburg CBD

In July 1964 an International Congress of Surgeons was held at the Wits Medical School in Johannesburg. It was well attended by Surgeons from all over the world including South Africa.

At the time, I was a Registrar (a Surgeon in training and studying for a higher qualification) working in the Professorial Unit of the Johannesburg General Hospital just across the road from the Conference. It was a late Friday afternoon – July 24th 1964.

Which of our city’s architectural treasures don’t receive the credit they deserve? During lockdown we explored Joburg’s most underrated historic buildings on our Instagram and Facebook pages, and we’re happy to share them here too! 

EBay has on sale a medal to commemorate the declaration of Johannesburg as a city in 1928. I was immediately intrigued. I have never seen one of these medals but I am not a collector of such items. An internet search reveals that this medal is not regarded as rare but that prices fluctuate from as little as R45 to about $10 to as much as £18. It is a bronze medal.

 

I hardly Knew Robin fee personally except shaking hands in a restaurant was a warm experience. But his presence in the profession was known over 3 decades & more: 1960-1990s. He embodied much of the complexity that characterised architecture over this period. Complexity?

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.
 

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.

 

In a test of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s reputation and approval rating in South Africa, a motion to remove the name and statue of the Indian leader from the city centre was debated in recent weeks by the Johannesburg City Council, the country’s largest municipality. The motion called for the removal of the bronze statue at Gandhi Square — sculpted by Tinka Christopher, it depicts Gandhi as a young activist lawyer in his legal gown — and the re-naming of the site after Sophie de Bruyn, a well-known anti-apartheid activist.

A few months ago it was my  pleasure to lunch with Mr Walter Pon, of first Chinatown of Johannesburg and Brett McDougall (Chairman of the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation). Mr Pon has a passion for the history of the Chinese community in South Africa. Lunch was a gastronomic route into Chinese culture and history - our meeting point was the Ming Woo restaurant (corner of Alexander and Commissioner Street) which started and ended with copious small cups of delicate green tea. Lunch was Dim Sum, a variety of enticing servings of Chinese delicacies. This unpretentio

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