Tag: gold

Newtown and Johannesburg revisited

During my previous visit to Newtown in September of 2011, I was severely hampered by really crappy weather. This time around, even though it was winter,  the weather had warmed up considerably from the previous week. The occasion was the “Creative Jozi” Public Art walking tour with Past Experiences. The intention was to pass through Newtown and then into the city itself, heading towards Hollard Street and stopping at a number of sites before returning back to our vehicles. I also wanted to revisit the Concourt area to photograph two artworks I had missed before. 

The former station

There had been a few changes at the Market Theatre parking area. The structure known as “The Potato Patches”  was now a big hole, and the wonderful old pedestrian footbridge was gone. However, the equally beautiful (and derelict)  toilet building could now be seen much better.
It was still possible to hang out with “Kiepie” or Brenda Fassie
And this beauty is still impressive.
Heading out, we passed Sci-Bono towards the old Chinatown area where the “Paper Pigeons” roosts on the traffic island that we used to pass on our way to and from Mayfair with the bus when I was young. 
From this spot one can see the former John Vorster Square, which was a place where many Apartheid Activists lost their lives to the violence of the security branch.  I had been wanting to get down here because the Sunday Times, as part of their centenary, had commissioned an artwork  to commemorate the eight people who lost their lives in this notorious police station. 
It is a powerful piece, stark in its simplicity, but sombre at the same time.  The artwork, entitled “Simakade” (the Zulu for “forever standing”), is by Kagiso Pat Mautloa.
From here, we walked up towards Main Street, pausing at Chancellor House, where Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo practiced law. 
Before passing the Magistrates Court,
and up into Main Street where many of the mining houses had their headquarters. The Anglo American buildings are magnificent, and their decorative friezes are really worth looking out for. The most famous piece here has to be the Oppenheimer Fountains which was relocated from its original site behind the Rissik Street Post Office, to this spot in Main Street. And, as usual the fountain was not working! (or had been turned off). 
The most impressive piece of art had to be the statue above the door of the Anglo American offices. I had missed seeing it before, but this time around was lucky  The Cheetah statue is by Dylan Lewis.
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Even the fountain is beautiful. 
The cornerstone of this building was laid by Sir Harry Oppenheimer on 15 June 1938, and it must really be magnificent on the inside. They do not build buildings like this anymore.
The BHP Billiton Building, which is close by, has an equally magnificent entrance.
The area where this building is has quite a few reminders of Johannesburg’s mining history, including the “Langlaagte Stamp Battery” dating from 1886.
As well as the lintel from the former Cullinan Building
This space is now occupied by the former Standard Bank Building, which was constructed from the top downwards.  Also in this area is a Hunslet mine locomotive, 
old mining machinery,
And, one of my personal favourites, a rhino statue which is based on the gold rhino that was discovered at Mapungubwe. 
And, staying on the theme of rhino, a particularly striking wall which I originally thought was using a rhino as the motif, it turns out that the theme of this work is “bull and bear”, in reference to the Stock Exchange.
The whole of Main Street from the Magistrates Court up through to Ghandi Square is well worth the visit, it is traffic free and well looked after and secure. And, if your shoes pack up, pop into your local cobbler.
Having reached the halfway point at Hollard Street, we now turned around and headed towards Market Street, and as usual it was crazy. I remember Market Street from when I was young, and it was always a hubbub of traffic and pedestrians. Not much has changed except it has become even more congested because of the Rea-Vaya stops that have effectively reduced the traffic here to a crawl.
Unfortunately we did not go past the refurbished Library, and I eventually did make a trip to see it and was not disappointed.  
Another place from my past is Kohinoor World of Music, which I do remember from the days going to the Library by bus. It seems as if they have decided to remain where they are instead of fleeing to the nether regions of the northern suburbs.   
Fortunately, many gems still exist in this area, and the first time I had been here on a tour in 2011 it had been a public holiday so was very quiet. This was not true today.  
The Rosenberg Building is one of the many oldies in Johannesburg, its foundation being laid in 1905.  There are also newer monoliths, like the former African Eagle building which is an easily recognisable landmark in the city.  
Although when I was young it did not sport a giant coke bottle on its flank.  
We paused at the small park where the statue of Walter and Albertina Sisulu is. This is easily one of my favourite pieces of street art, and one which seems to charm everybody that finds it.  
The end destination was close, and we took a route that I did not know existed before, coming out at Sci-Bono and the end of the tour.  
I was bushed, but still wanted to make a trip to Museum Africa, and the Fort and Constitutional Hill. But that is another story, for another day. There are more images of Johannesburg on the relevant gallery pages
DRW © 2012-2020. Images recreated and posts merged 25/03/2016. Dead link removed 05/02/2020
Updated: 05/02/2020 — 06:33

The Remains of George Harrison Park

This is another of my blogposts that have been written after the fact and deals with George Harrison Park, or should I say, what was left of George Harrison Park when I visited it on 09 September 2011.
I do not have the history of the park to hand, but fortunately when I was there a number of the information plaques had not yet been stolen so I can reproduce them here.
During my visit I was shocked at the state of dereliction of this historically important site. And, it has been going on for a long time too. If you read further enough back you will find that the rot set in here a long time ago in spite of this being a Blue Plaque site. 
One of the reasons it did end up this was is due to it being located in the suburb of Riverlea which is not in the Northern Suburbs where people are prone to enthusing about the house that some or other “Randlord” built using the money from the workings of places like this. The site is situated at co-ordinates 26° 12.604’S 27° 59.267’E  and this is not the sort of area that you want to spend too much time in. If anything the condition of the very impressive gates should give you an idea of the wreckage behind it. They had not been painted in years.  The original gates date from 1947, and I have a feeling the upperworks may date from 1986.

Inside was a mess too.

This used to be a stampmill, or was it a headgear? there is no way to know, The information plaque for it is also missing. It does however appear as if this was the stampmill that is now situated in Main Street Johannesburg.

Underneath the shelter are 3 plaques which are about the Langlaagte discovery and the Witwatersrand gold reefs. Fortunately they were still intact when I was there.

I cannot say the same for the “sample” that was supposed to be there too.

The strangest thing of all are the open mine working that exist on the site, and I believe these have been invaded by the so called “zama-zamas” as illegal miners are called. I did however not see any during my visit, in fact I saw nobody at all during my visit. I will grant that the grass had been cut and had a bit more care been taken this would have been quite an attractive place to visit

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How stable these workings are I cannot say, but the fact remains that all it really takes is to step over the inadequate fence and explore the workings.


Many grand schemes and plans have been formulated over the years to revitalise this park, but none have actually happened as far as I am aware, although the last report I read was dated 08 September 2014

It is ludicrous that such an important site has been left to go derelict in the first place, but then heritage is always a precarious line that straddles political correctness and history, and I am afraid George Harrison has fallen off the fence. 
I will not advise visiting thus site on your own. The area is dangerous enough as it is.
As at 2015? I do not know what state it is in, I see there are more mutterings about restoration, but going by past experiences that has probably not happened,
City of Johannesburg you should be ashamed. 
DRW © 2011-2019. Images recreated 19/03/2016, images of stamp battery added 04/06/2016
Updated: 08/04/2019 — 19:36

Witwatersrand Plaque

Coming back from the West Rand one Saturday, I was in the area of Witpoortjie Station, and on that day my favourite steam engine was returning from her day trip to Magaliesberg. I decided to see whether I could catch her coming through the station on her way back to Germiston.  That short video may be seen on my youtube channel
On my way out of the station I found a plaque that very few people know exists.
This plaque ties into the geological formation and area commonly known as the Witwatersrand (Ridge of White Water)
Witpoortjie is one of those small sleepy stations that exist serving a dwindling number of train commuters on a train system that is no longer in tune with demand. This is probably its only claim to fame. 
Not too far from here are the mining areas of the West Rand as well as Confidence Reef.  However, very few people are really aware of this tiny bit of information that is relevant to understanding more about the geology of Johannesburg.
© DRW 2011-2018. Images recreated 17/03/2016
Updated: 24/12/2017 — 10:31
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