Orange Grove

Marian Laserson (nee Spilkin) architect, town planner, champion of wetlands and heritage campaigner passed away on 10 July at the Morningside Clinic of the Covid-19 Virus.

The weekend of the 24/25 June 2017 saw the launch of the Jozi Walks initiative of the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA). Individuals, community organizations, tourism companies and NGOs joined hands in offering a series of free and innovative walks through Johannesburg, north, south, east and west. It was exciting, fun and  showed off Jozi at its best over a two day celebration of the Jane Jacobs walk my city philosophy.  

Travel back in time to 1886. Gold has just been discovered on the Witwatersrand, and the koppies and veld between Pretoria and Heidelberg, home to a handful of boer families, their tenants and workers, are starting to attract the attention of the world. The dusty track connecting the Viljoen homestead, nestled below the ridge among abundant orchards, to Pretoria has been extended south and west to the city of tents which has mushroomed on the uitvalgrond between the farms Doornforntein, Langlaagte and Braamfontein.

The topography of Johannesburg is distinctive with the rocky mountainous ridges and the line of koppies that runs from east to west. These are the quartzite ridges of the famous Witwatersrand. The geology is unique. Viljoen and Reimold (An Introduction to South Africa’s Geology and Mining Heritage) make the point that this is one of the few localities where the evolution of the granitic crust of Southern Africa has been preserved and can be viewed.

During the South African War of 1899-1902 blockhouses formed an essential part of British military strategy against Dutch forces. Initially these were fairly substantial and were used to guard key military points, but once the war moved into its final stages, they were used, together with barbed wire, as a means of limiting the movement of Republican commandos. All in all, some 8000 blockhouses were built over a period of two years, and although most were eventually dismantled, a number still remain in silent testimony of a bitter and foolish war.

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