Tag: Langlaagte

Lets go by bus!

Reading a blogpost about buses a few minutes ago got me thinking about my own experiences with bus travel as a child.
Our family did not own a car, and living in Mayfair (Johannesburg), we were very fortunate that we had a variety of buses to choose from when we made an excursion “into town”. Originally we lived in Robinson Road and would catch the Homestead Park bus, but once we moved to Hanover Street our local bus stop was shared by buses on the Homestead Park, Crosby, Langlaagte and Mayfair routes which all turned around at the terminus in Loveday Street. (Bus numbers were 60, 60a, 61 and possibly 61a). Trolley bus lines ran up to Homestead Park where the bus turned around for its return journey, I seem to recall the terminus was in Van Ryneveld Road. 

In primary school I used to catch the Crosby bus up to EP Baumann Primary, getting off a block away from the school in 3rd Avenue. My early trips were on platform style JMT diesel buses with a conductor ensuring that the correct fares were paid and that we behaved ourselves.
I do not recall when the platform style buses were removed from service but at some point the conductor was made redundant by a ticketing machine by the driver, and he also handled cash for people who did not have tickets.
The original platform style buses had the driver in a separate compartment, but single deckers and the newer double deckers had the driver accessible to passengers, and when you travelled the same bus everyday we all got to know the individual drivers on our routes, and eventually we would gravitate to sitting on the ledge by the front window next to the driver.  I do recall the one driver that I travelled with went on pension in my last year in primary school and I was quite sad that I would no longer see him on the route. 
 
My morning trips were usually in a very empty bus, but in the afternoons the Crosby bus would be full of the children from EP Baumann as well as other schools in the area. I used to bail out at the stop in Central Ave between Hanover and Langerman Streets, stopping at the Greek cafe to buy the afternoon paper for my mother before heading off for home.  This was the same bus stop we would use to travel into town,  the west bound stop being close to the corner of Hanover Street and Central Ave. The bus terminus in Johannesburg was in Loveday Street, between Commissioner and Market Streets. None of our west bound buses used Van Der Bijl Square (today Ghandi Square) as a terminus. The terminus was also next to the Union-Castle Building where I could ogle the ship models in the window while waiting for the bus to take me home. Today the terminus is still there, but is used as a taxi rank. Union-Castle Line is long gone and so are the ship models. And, for that matter, so are the buses.
The former Mayfair/Crosby/Homestead Park Bus terminus

The former Mayfair/Crosby/Homestead Park Bus terminus

Once I went to high school in Langlaagte, my daily commute changed slightly. I would now catch a  dedicated Langlaagte school bus that would turn around outside our school, and in the afternoons there was a dedicated school bus that used to collect us at 14H05 and drive into town on the Homestead Park route. If you missed it the next Langlaagte bus would leave an hour later and it was usually easier to walk up to the Homestead Park terminus instead. 
 
The buses on this route were converted from the platform diesel buses, the platform being removed and replaced with a bench seat with the access stairs behind the driver. There was an unofficial pecking order on these buses. The smokers sat upstairs, the more senior the boys the further back they sat. Non smokers sat downstairs and the seniors would occupy the bench seat at the back. Our school was a single sexed school so no girls were on the bus (Goudveld Hoer up the road had their own bus).  Unfortunately I do not have a picture of the inside of these diesel buses, but they were very similar to the converted trolley buses that had their platforms removed. 

Downstairs looking towards the back of the bus

By Std 10 I too had graduated to the back bench, and some other Std 6 had to fight the gauntlet of bigger boys trying to board without getting squashed. The ticket machine had changed too, as tickets now had 10 rides per ticket instead of a single ticket per ride. 

Upstairs looking towards the front of the bus

Johannesburg also started to use buses for advertising when I was in primary school, and we were always eager to travel on a bus that had something new advertised on it, sadly though it meant the demise of the familiar red and cream livery, which leant a certain professionalism to the bus service.  The much loved trolley bus was also withdrawn,  and an articulated singled decker trolley bus was tried but it was never adopted throughout the fleet. Eventually even the trolley bus lines were removed, and they too have passed into history. By the time I came out of the army my transportation had moved to trains as I worked in Braamfontein and Johannesburg, and apart from the occasional trip  from where I lived in Hillbrow I stopped using buses altogether. I know when I was young the ever rising fares meant fewer people used buses so they they had to raise fares to increase revenue and it became a spiral that saw the bus service cut until it was shade of its former self.  Today the Metrobus service is abysmal. 
 
I have travelled in buses elsewhere in the world but they don’t really compare to the childhood experience of going to school in a big red and cream diesel bus, safe in the hands of an experienced driver.  I miss the experience though, especially hurtling down the hill in Fordsburg in a trolley bus, secretly hoping that the pickup would jump off the lines, bringing us to a grinding halt. It was all part of the fun when growing up. The James Hall Museum of Transport has a beautiful collection of old buses and trams to explore, and is well worth visiting to see them once again.    All the photographs in this blog entry were taken at the museum.
  
 
 DRW © 2012-2018. Images recreated 25/03/2016
   
Updated: 01/07/2019 — 13:17

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

1500x411 (panoramic view)

1500×411 (panoramic view)

1500x431 (panoramic view)

1500×431 (panoramic view)

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
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