Remember the War

“Many people laid down their lives in that terrible conflict.

They fought so we could live in peace, at home and abroad.

They died so we could live as free people in a world of free nations.

They risked all so our families and neighbourhoods could be safe.

“We should and will remember them.”

 

DRW © 2020 Created 09/05/2020. Excerpt from The Queen’s VE Day speech 2020. 

 

OTD: The Braamfontein Dynamite Explosion

One of the many events that occurred in the fledgling city of Johannesburg was the Dynamite Explosion that occurred on 19 February 1896 at Braamfontein Station. A memorial was erected in Braamfontein Cemetery to commemorate the event, and the over 70 people that lost their lives in it. An explosives train, carrying dynamite, had been left standing for 3 days in searing heat in what was then Braamfontein goods yard; the massive explosion occurred when this train was struck by another that was shunting. It left a crater over 60 m long and 8 m deep and was heard 200 km away. The exact number of casualties was never ascertained, and over 200 people were seriously injured. Some 3 000 people lost their homes and almost every window in the town was shattered. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact site where the explosion occurred but a period map puts it on the bend where Braamfontein Vapour Depot now stands.

I have spotted at least 5 physical graves in Braamfontein cemetery that have explosion related inscriptions on them, and it is probable that most of the casualties are buried in this cemetery, the majority of the funerals being held on the 20th and 21st of February. I can physically identify 46 names in the registers as being marked as “dynamite explosion”, and all are buried in the DR section. There is also supposedly a mass grave in this plot where unidentified severed limbs are buried.

atcutt_a161aaaa

Apart from the devastation that the explosion created, it would have also tested the fledgling cities ability to manage a disaster of this magnitude. Braamfontein Cemetery was relatively new when this happened and it would be here that the victims were buried. It is certain that there were African victims too, and they are also probably buried here in an area that has been ploughed under. I was not able to check against the register because I did not find a register for that area. There may also be victims buried in the Jewish section of the cemetery, but the register for that was not available at the time.  It is an interesting piece of history though, albeit one that has been almost forgotten.

DR Walker ©  2011-2020. Recreated and expanded 23/05/2016. 

Holywell Cemetery

Holywell Cemetery is the first cemetery that I visited in Oxford and is one of two that are within what I call “walking distance” of the town centre. There was no real compelling reason to visit it either, but from a curiosity standpoint it was certainly a drawcard. It is situated at Google Earth co-ordinates 51.755681°,  -1.247123° and entrance is through a gate set back from St Cross Road.

There is not a lot to say about it though, so this post is really more of a photo essay than a long winded exploration of the place. The pics speak for themselves. 

It really is a jungle in there and it is done deliberately to encourage small wild and bird life in it. I am always in two minds about leaving a cemetery wild like this, but there is a certain beauty about it that is breathtaking. There is a small information board in the cemetery, although there we no leaflets available. I have split off the key and map from the board so as to see them easier. 

The only name that I recognise is that of James Blish, a Science Fiction author. I did not hunt down the grave though, the cemetery is way too overgrown to find anything in. 

The Friends of Holywell Cemetery was founded in 1987 to raise funds for the maintenance of the cemetery on land that was gifted by Merton College in 1847. The lodge was erected in 1850 and to be honest I really thought the building was derelict but there is somebody living in it. It is however very hemmed in by foliage and getting a complete image of it was almost impossible.

University dons dominate the burials here , and  last count there were 160 of them, including 32 Heads of Houses, but there is no barrier here between town and gown. Shopkeepers and tradespeople abound, with names which will be recognised by many Oxonians. 

I am not sure whether it is still in use, or when the last burial did take place but there were a quite a few newish headstones to be seen. Unfortunately some were buried amongst the undergrowth so I could not really investigate them too closely.

Next to the cemetery is is the St Cross church and it has quite a nice churchyard too. What is interesting about it is how high the churchyard is compared to the actual church building, indicating that the churchyard is very full. I did not photograph the church though, as it was in a very awkward  position.

The churchyard is not as overgrown as the cemetery, although that could be because it is situated on the street whereas the cemetery is not street facing. Which came first? I think the churchyard was here long before the cemetery.  

That more or less sums up Holywell. I did not spend too much time there but enjoyed it immensely. Its not too often that you encounter a beaut like this one, and without the mad rush of looking for specific graves it is easy to just enjoy the peace and tranquillity of this small haven away from the frenetic rush of the city.

Random Images

DRW © 2019. Created 01/07/20101