musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Julius Jeppe

Jeppe Boys. A Glimpse.

On Heritage Day, 24 September, I joined in a photowalk at Jeppe High School for Boys in Kensington. I did have an ulterior motive behind it because I wanted to photograph the War Memorial on the property. It is one of the 3 school memorials that I am still pursuing (the others being at St Johns and KES). When I was ready to enter high school my parents actually considered sending me to this school instead of the local academic high school, however, as fate would have it I ended up in the local technical high school instead. Who knows what would have happened had I ended up at Jeppe? 
 
The school was originally founded in 1890, but it’s present iteration in Kensington came about in 1911 when the school moved to its present site. The connection between Sir Julius Jeppe and the school is very strong and it is probable that he had a big influence in its formative years. 
  
There is an old world feel about the buildings and its grounds, and listening to our guide speaking about the buildings it was evident that there was pride in its traditions, heritage and future legacy. 
 
The War Memorial I was after is on the right hand side of the entrance, and consists of a dome with a portal over a plinth with the names of the masters and pupils who died during World War 1. The portal is supposed to allow sunlight to shine onto the name list below on 11 November, but that only really applies in the Northern Hemisphere. 
 
 
On either side of the dome are facilities that are now used as the school museum and a recruiting centre. One of the names on the memorial is that of James Humphrey Allen Payne, who was the headmaster of the school from 1905-1917.  He also lends his name to the magnificent “Payne Hall” which is inside the main building pictured above. 
 
Sadly though the building is showing its age and is currently being restored to its former glory. I suspect that this is hallowed ground for those who work or study here, and the weight of tradition hangs heavily upon it. Continuing our tour, we headed down to the extensive sports fields, which are now an integral part of  the suburbs around them.

Playing fields viewed from Caledonia Hill

It is difficult to really picture what this area must have looked like when the school opened,  today it is heavily treed and suburbanised, in 1911 people would ride horses, and the home of Sir Julius Jeppe would be a prominent part of the landscape. The house, “Friedenheim” was demolished in the 1960’s, and was situated where the school now has it’s sports fields and swimming pool. Only the gates survive from this legacy, although there is a monument to Julius Jeppe not too far away.   
 
The area by these gates is where some of the hostels may be found, and we were fortunate to be able to have a walk around in one of these old buildings. I must admit though, it was nothing like I expected, but it really was a glimpse into a different age.
 
 
With hindsight I should have asked whether this building was originally built as a hostel. I could however see the limitations of  the structure when used in a modern situation, sadly, our desire for electronics has meant that in some areas the use of conduit and surface mounted reticulation has ruined its looks.
Our next destination was the main school hall,  the foyer was also home to the Second World War Roll of Honour, and once again it was strange to read names on there that I had personally photographed the graves of. 
 
The main hall had been in use for examinations and still bore the traces in its rows of desks lined up in the available space, it was quite funny reading school desk graffiti and trying to see whether it’s quality had improved since my days at school. Sadly, it has not.
 
Then it was time to go home. I made a short detour to Caledonia Hill to check up on the status of the Scottish Horse Memorial. It was recently restored, but all the name plaques and inscriptions have been removed. The view is still amazing and it is well worth the climb. 
 

One last detour through Jeppe to photograph some old buildings and then home James.  Jeppe High School does not have the prestige of a place like St Johns, but it is still one of the the top 20 boys schools in the country, and is also the oldest known school in Johannesburg. It’s motto is Forti nihil difficilius, meaning “Nothing is too difficult for the brave”, also translated as “For the brave, nothing is too difficult”. 

© DRW 2012-2018.  Images recreated 25/03/2016. Links replaced 20/05/2015 

Updated: 26/12/2017 — 15:46

Finding Julius Jeppe. 06-11-2011

While reading a book of old postcards about Johannesburg I was surprised to find them mention a memorial at Jeppestown Oval. Naturally my first instinct was “War Memorial?”, my second was “When?” That area isn’t on my usual gravehunting route, in fact there is very little in the way of exciting memorials out between Johannesburg and Eastgate, and those that there are I have already visited. The major memorials are: The Bezuidenhout Valley War Memorial, the Scottish Horse Memorial on Caledonia Hill, and The Indian Army Memorial on Observatory Ridge.  However, some research indicated that this was not a war memorial, but rather a memorial to Julius Jeppe. Rand pioneer and manager of Jeppe’s Township.
Seeing as I had a lunch date for the 6th of November I set up my untrustworthy GPS and made a detour. I usually drop off the highway at End Street and head East along Commissioner Street on the rare occasions when I head out this way. I usually keep my camera handy too because there are some real oldies in this area just crying out to be preserved, if not in real life, but as a jpg. The area I was after is called “Jeppestown Oval” which is a park, and probably was a popular recreational area in the very early days of Johannesburg. Today it looks like two basketball courts and a recreation centre.      

Memorial to Julius Jeppe at the Jeppestown Oval

The memorial itself is in a reasonably good condition, considering it supposedly was erected in 1892. Somehow though that date doesn’t quite fit, but until I know otherwise I will assume that my source is correct. The inscription is difficult to read, especially the date on it which could read 1893 or 1895. Luckily somebody else has transcribed it before, but in short it reads…. 

 

Erected
In Memory Of
Julius GEC Jeppe
The founder of Jeppestown
1893

Lives of all good men remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing, leave behind us
Footprints in the sands of time.

Footprints that perhaps another
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main;
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Mark one more notch on the belt as they say, yet another memorial has been documented. While I was in that area I decided more pics were in order. There are a large amount of churches around here too, and some are really old and are no longer used by the denomination that they were originally built for. My personal favourite is on the corner of Mordaunt and Commissioner and the street front is only a small portion of this stunning oldie. This building was the former St Andrews Presbyterian Church, the foundation stone of which was laid in 1903. Interestingly enough this is the church that the Transvaal Scottish used for their annual service from 1950 until 1990 when the congregation amalgamated and the church was sold. 
 
Just around the corner in “Op De Bergen” and Corrie Streets is the stunning old Dutch Reformed Church dating from 1906. 
Former Dutch Reformed Church in Fairview

Former Dutch Reformed Church in Fairview

And, within site of the Jeppestown Oval is the Assembly of God Portuguese Community Church, another pretty old building that is still in use. I believe it was originally a synagogue.

Assembly of God Portuguese Community Church

To crown off my trip I grabbed a few pics in and around the area. Nothing like I could have, because the whole area is in dire need of research. Maybe one day in December when things are nice and quiet I will grab my camera and map book and go hunt down more oldies. I know that they are there.

Commissioner Street looking West from Fairview

Looking towards Yeoville from Troyeville

Looking up towards Observatory Ridge

Jacarandas in Kensington

That concluded my trip to find Julius Jeppe. Naturally its always interesting to put something tangible like this to a name. That whole area still carries his name in many ways. Jeppe High School, Jeppe Station, Jeppe Street, Jeppestown etc. I seem to think he is buried in Braamfontein Cemetery, so next time I am in that area I will go have a look. You never know, this page may still have an addendum.

Addendum.
I was correct, Julius Jeppe is buried in Braamfontein Cemetery, and the date that I am questioning is probably 1893, as the date on his grave is 16 June 1893.

 
 DRW © 2011-2019. Images recreated 19/03/2016  
Updated: 08/04/2019 — 19:15
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