Heritage Day, Newtown. 24-09-2011.

Wow. What a day. I decided to take a tour with Past Experiences into the Newtown area. I have been wanting to go take pics up there for ages and this gave me an excuse. My unofficial targets before the tour were the old station, as well as the Nelson Mandela Bridge. Unfortunately, the weather Gods decided to mess with the sun again, just as they did when I went to Pretoria earlier this week. Weather or not though, I took the plunge.
The old station is a wonderful edifice, its a photographers dream, and a lover of steel and glass structures will froth at the mouth. I do have better images of the station, but this one was taken on the Newtown photowalk so it is relevant. 

I then climbed the hill to the bridge, sadly that weather just messed with me, but I got great shots anyway, and there was a surprise for me as well.

Over the noise of the traffic I heard a familiar steam whistle, then I realised, this was also a Reefsteamers day trip day and it had just turned 9am. I saw the plume of smoke emerging from Park Station and the familiar steam engine noises and was just in time to extend the zoom across the bridge to catch 15F-3046 Janine winding her way through Braamfontein yards. What an opportunity that was. Had I timed things slightly differently I would have missed it altogether.
The day was looking up!  Then it was tour time. And, for those who may want to venture forth into Johannesburg Newtown is an old area of Johannesburg, but is undergoing a revitalisation that is seeing it transformed into a cultural and “artsy” centre of excellence. Our tour was to take in the street art of the area and there was a lot of it. Ranging from bronze statues, to hundreds of wooden heads that line the streets. The wide open space of Mary Fitzgerald Square was a breath of sanity in the often frenetic madness of the taxi’s rushing hither and thither. The only real memory I have of this area was when it used to be the site of the fleamarket, and the home of the “Stargate” which was supposedly The meeting place and it too has been lost due to redevelopment.

What is left of Stargate

We walked the whole area, stopping to look and for me, make new discoveries and have my curiosity tickled. However, there is just so much to see, and frankly it was a case of “I need more time to really look this place over.”  I did a retrospective of the Newtown Municipal Compound later in this blog. 
Museum Africa on Mary Fitzgerald Square

Museum Africa on Mary Fitzgerald Square


The next part of our agenda was Diagonal Street. Again my only memory of it was as a youngster going past the extremely crowded narrow streets en route to town by bus. I had never walked in that street. There is no denying the age of the buildings, they hark to a Johannesburg that has long passed, but their facades from another era are wonderful to behold. 

I guess though, at any other time of the week this area reverts to its usual chaos, but today, being a holiday was much more manageable. We ventured further down towards Commissioner Street side, and found a small nice area of quiet where Walter and Albertina Sisulu quietly sit in adoration of each other. Its a beautiful statue that says so much, and in the feeling I get from it was that of quiet dignity.
As one of the generation that lived in the old South Africa I can’t help but have an affection for this couple, its difficult to explain, but once you see that piece of artwork up close you will see what I mean.   
After that it was down the road to Chancellor House and Chinatown (and Tsing Tsao beer). Then it was time to split off from the tour and head my own way home. I made a detour to the Cenotaph, but the one way streets in JHB just make things so very difficult, But, I got my pics and better ones later on. 
It would look so much better had the grass been green, the sky blue and the dismalness abolished. But that was not to be. Then I went home via Fordsburg, but that’s another story for another day.  Watch this space, sooner or later I will post this gallery, but not tonight I will however leave you with an image of a giant pigeon. 
That giant pigeon is a story all of its own, and I have a  blogpost about pigeons in general. It was not inspired by this statue though.  I did return to Newtown during better weather though, which is why there are so few images here. 
DRW © 2011-2021. Images recreated 19/03/2016, more images added 17/05/2019
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