Tag: Jameson Raid

Dear Dr Jameson….

One of the more unsavoury events in our history is the Jameson Raid. Cecil John Rhodes and his friends planned this really ridiculous farce to…. wait, I will let you read about it yourself because I sure don’t understand half of it. I do know that it was one of the triggers that caused the Boer War, and so much misery in this country ever since. Who knows what might have happened had Jameson and his 600 men succeeded in their attempt to “restore order” in Johannesburg, or better yet, never embarked on such a haphazard scheme in the first place. But, given the really bad planning and a really stupid ideal in the first place, the chances of success were really very small. 
 
I deal with what is left over, and there is not too much. Many of the sites associated with the raid are long gone, or built over, graves have become part of the veld, and all that is really left are a few places along Adcock Street out near Dobsonville/Vlakfontein as well as Randfontein, Krugersdorp and possibly Magaliesburg.  There are three main memorials worth considering. Firstly there is the main memorial on Adcock Street.
  
 
This plinth is situated outside what is loosely known as “the brickworks”, behind which is what is known as the Vlakfontein Memorial. I first photographed it in May 2009, and it was still fenced and the area was badly overgrown. I revisited it on 2 Feb 2012, and the fences have all been stolen, and it is still overgrown!
Jameson Needle (2009)

Jameson Needle (2009)

 
Sadly, all that is left of the so-called Kraal is a low wall and this needle, and there does not seem to be any way of knowing where the original site was in the first place.  On the one side of the brickworks is yet another interesting spot, loosely known as “The Stump“. When photographed in 2009, it too was fenced and not too badly overgrown, sadly the fence has also been stolen and the stump fell victim to fire at some point.
jamesonstump
 
 
From here we move across to Randfontein to what is loosely termed “The Randfontein Estates Gold Mine Military Cemetery” It took the good memory of a security guard to find this spot near the railway lines outside Randfontein, and when I first photographed it in 2009 it had already been badly vandalised.
 
On my visit today I was happy to see that the area had been cleared of vegetation but that does leave it more visible for scrap metal dealers and their ilk. These are the graves of Troopers William Charles Beatty-Powell, John Bernard Bletsoe, Harry Davies, John R.H. Forster, and C.E Hennessy.
 
In Burgershoop Cemetery in Krugersdorp, there is one more reminder of the Jameson Raid,  that was erected in 1917 to commemorate the casualties suffered by the Transvaal Burghers who opposed Jameson and his raiders. There are also 3 Jameson raiders buried in that cemetery, as well as the five Burghers. 
 
But what is missing?  The Vlakfontein needle mentions 26 casualties. Of these 5 are buried at REGM Military Cemetery and 8 are buried in Burgershoop cemetery. There are some raiders buried supposedly at Vlakfontein farm cemetery, as well as 3 that were supposed to be buried outside Doornkop Military base, there is one listed as being in Magaliesburg but that one has never been found,  and others are listed as burial location not known.
Dr Jameson and his cronies left a legacy that erupted into the Anglo Boer War; by all rights they should have been shot for treason. The punishment meted down to the plotters and leaders was surprisingly lenient. It was the ordinary soldier who once again caught the short end of the stick. Ironically Jameson became Prime Minister of the Cape Colony (1904–08) and was one of the founders of the Union of South Africa.
 
The physical remnants of the Jameson Raid are now hard to find, a recent visit to a farm in Magaliesburg revealed that the raiders may have travelled through one of the farms en route, 2 swords were ploughed up on the farm, so who knows, just maybe more answers may still be in that area.
 
© DRW 2012-2018. Images and links recreated 22/03/2016
 
Updated: 26/12/2017 — 14:48

A Bridge Too Far. Rangeview. 13-10-2011

I am a sucker for a bridge. I am always fascinated by these structures and their beauty. I am fortunate in having seen quite a few famous ones oversees, including Tower Bridge in London, The Brooklyn Bridge in New York, The Rhoebling Bridge in Cincinnati,  Tsing Ma Bridge in Hong Kong, The Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol,  The Mythe Bridge in Tewkesbury and a few others which, while not important, are just as beautiful. Suspension bridges are my favourite though, but in JHB we don’t really have a lot of them. The most famous bridge in Johannesburg is probably the Nelson Mandela Bridge that spans the railway yards in Braamfontein. 
Nelson Mandela Bridge.

Nelson Mandela Bridge.

 
A relative newcomer is the pedestrian bridge up in Fairlands that crosses the highway, it’s a glorious structure that sticks out from very far, and its almost art deco styling just makes it a beaut in my eyes. It is one of those structures that many motorists pass under on their way between Beyers Naude and 14th Ave, but how many have actually walked on that bridge?

I made discovery number 3 this morning while out at Sterkfontein Cemetery in Krugersdorp. I spotted it at the extreme of my zoom and was instantly hooked. I just had to see this bridge up close!

Of course finding it was another story altogether, because its really a pipe bridge and not a pedestrian bridge it doesn’t really show up on maps, and no real roads actually go out that way. But I drove around as close to it as I could get before I spotted a sign that advertised bungee jumping! Then it was just a matter of following the arrows.

After a long walk in some amazing scenery I finally reached my target, and realistically it is really just two pipes in a triangular frame suspended and supported by an upright on either side. However, its got an appealing industrial look about that I liked. I took a tentative walk up to its central gangway, but I am afraid I did not really feel too comfortable there. The ground below has a stream running through it as well as the bungee platform, but I am not really bungee material so didn’t venture out all the way. Besides, I was here to see the bridge, not jump off it! 

 
Then it was time to head off home once again, my mind taking me to events that became known as the Jameson Raid. I do not know whether Jameson and his party passed through this area, or even whether any ABW action took place around here, but the it is pretty rough terrain on the Sterkfontein side of that bridge, and probably very unchanged from 1900. All I know is, it is not the sort of place I would like to tackle, it was hard enough walking up the hill to get back to my car!  
 
 
DRW © 2011-2019. Images recreated and new images added 19/03/2016
Updated: 08/04/2019 — 19:21

Ruins in the veldt

One of the questions that cropped up during my explorations of the Jameson Raid remnants was the whereabouts of the grave of a certain “Trooper Black” that is listed as being buried at “Blaauwbank”. I no longer recall where this information pitched up, but Blaauwbank was a clue. At the time the only Blauuwbank that I was aware of was a mine that sat on a hill close to Magaliesburg Station, and my exploration of that did not provide any answers apart from a hint that there was a cemetery associated with the farm where the mine was. Further explorations then pointed to the derelict farmhouse and cemetery that was on the track leading up to the mine itself. I covered a some of that in the relevant blogpost at the time, this post is more about the derelict farmhouse.

Its a derelict for crying out loud, what could be so interesting about it? 

Not much as it turns out. There is a bit of history floating around on the net, but today it is really just a pile of ruins, or should I say, at the date of this blog post it was more like a ruin being overtaken by the bush.

This is also the ruin that ate my camera! Sadly, the pics I took from the mine were in the camera when it went missing so I was never able to show the pics from that particular day, and there was no way I was going to take my strange car up that hill again.

Back to the farmhouse:

The building was a brick built single storey structure with a shallow roof and a front stoep. At some point it was supposedly used as a hotel and Paul Kruger stayed there.

The interior consists of small pokey rooms, that were still relatively free of vegetation.

 

All interior and exterior fittings like door frames, ceilings, roof etc. have been stolen over the years, and i have no idea when this place was abandoned.  

Given the size of some of the trees I do suspect it has been derelict for quite some time.  

Technically this building may be over 100 years old, and as such should have been protected as a heritage space, but it is not situated in the Northern suburbs of Johannesburg so has been forgotten completely.

There are other structure behind the ruin, and it was probably near one of these where my camera went awol.  

I suspect these may have been stables of stores, maybe even ablutions? there is no real way of knowing.

The people who lived here were the Jennings family, or rather, that is what I can gather from the graveyard

There was a low wall that ran in front of the property and the overgrown graveyard was right at the end of the wall. The grass was so high in places that I could not even see the wall. 

The farmhouse may be found at Google Earth co-ordinates:  26° 0.252’S,   27° 31.759’E.

I revisited the farmhouse later in the year after a winter fire had burnt the grass and vegetation down and this is what it looked like; all a part of the cycle of growth in the veldt. 

  

 
© DRW 2011-2018. Retrospectively created 22/05/2016 
Updated: 24/12/2017 — 10:27
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