I walk the streets camera in hand, to discover my city, suburb by suburb.
I’m going to try and give this a bash, have been nagged on many occasions to start a blog. (You know who you are).
I’ve set myself a goal for 2018 and that is to try and find special places, interesting facts, special people who live in each and every suburb of the greater Johannesburg. Have you any idea how many suburbs there are? About 80 plus and that’s not including the townships which I hope to do as well.
If you live in a suburb of Joburg and have something interesting to share please drop me a line.
Orange Grove lies to the east of the city surrounded by Norwood, Sydenham, Linksfield and Houghton. I love the original name of the area “Lemoen Plaas”, referring to the orange farm that existed here where orange trees were planted by JC Esterhuizen, his daughter was married to a Viljoen whose farmhouse became the original site for the famous Orange Grove Hotel, (which is now the Houghton Office Park) prior to its development as a suburb of Johannesburg.
In the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s it was known as “Little Italy” – I fondly remember on a Sunday afternoon sitting on the sidewalk along Louis Botha at one of the many little Italian eateries drinking Sangria while the kids ate Gelato ice cream. However, my time in Orange Grove goes way back to my junior school days, when I went to the Astra, one of the local movie houses, to watch my first Elvis Presley movie. Later on in life I used to attend “Sessions” (these were before Dico’s and Nightclubs etc. were formed) in the area, such as those which were held regularly at Vreda Hall. Vreda Hall still exists and I’ve often been tempted to go inside but some memories are best left as memories.
What brings me back to this area today are a few places. Let’s start with the HospiceShop. I’ve been shopping there for about 20 years now, ever since I developed a love for antiques and collectables. I’m now a fanatical book collector so the bookshop gets a weekly visit from me, as does the rest of the Hospice corner with it’s bric-a-brac, furniture, clothing etc. After shopping head to their Coffee shop for that much needed coffee and toasted sandwich or to indulge in something sweet. There is nothing like a bargain and an added bonus is that you are supporting a very worthy cause. http://www.hospicewits.co.za for more information and how you can help.
HospiceWits Charity Shop on Louis Botha.
Always exciting to find something on Jozi.
Super Sconto, the biggest Italian retail store in South Africa, is another of my favourites with their well stocked supermarket which is crammed with various pastas, gnocchi, speciality canned tomatoes and puree, olive oils, meats and cheeses. Pop upstairs to the Deli/coffee shop for a panini or pasta lunch or just to catch up with a friend over coffee. http://www.supersconto.co.za
Finally, the Radium Beer Hall – this well known landmark of the area is also the oldest surviving pub in Johannesburg. The Radium was originally opened as a ‘tearoom’ in 1929 by the Khalil family. The present bar counter was rescued from the Ferreirastown Hotel and is well over a 100 years old. It has become a renowned live music venue with music events happening every week but still remains a popular local. Tuesdays are very popular, with their half priced pizzas been a favourite. http://www.theradium.co.za
Orange Grove has one of the ‘Development Corridors‘ running through it with the installation of the Rea Vaya bus route and it’s stations been developed along Louis Botha Avenue. I’m excited by the fact that in some of the developments in the area the community are involved and their ideas are taken into account by #ArtMyJozi – a collaboration between the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) and Trinity Sessions. You can get more information here – http://www.thetrinitysession.com.
Cottesloe lies to the West of the city centre surrounded by Auckland Park, Vrededorp and Wits University. It was named by a former Minister of Lands, Dr. Adam Jameson, after a Western Australian town situated some 11km south-west of Perth. (South AfricanPlace Names – Peter E Raper). Cottesloe is perhaps better known for the Egoli Gas Works, which cannot be missed when driving in the area, with its huge black gas tanks and the intriguing derelict buildings that stand alongside them. These works were inaugurated in 1929 on what was considered to be the perfect site as it was out of town but within reach of its consumers, after the original gas works in Newtown closed in 1928 having opened in 1892; it is also deemed to be one of the most historical and architecturally significant sites in Johannesburg.
I was fortunate enough to explore parts of the old gas works building at the launch of the book “The Johannesburg Gas Works” which was comprehensively put together by Monika Laufarts and Judith Mavunganidze. (This book is available from http://www.fourthwallbooks.com)
However, it’s what occupies a bit of the old gasworks on the south side of the site that keeps me coming back to Cottesloe – the Liebermann Pottery which was established by Sammy and Mary Liebermann on their return to Johannesburg, from London, as trained ceramicists in 1954. Originally it was a home based studio producing a range of traditional tableware and dinnerware (which was Sammy’s forte) and picture ceramic tiles (ably done by Mary). Unfortunately, this is the only bit of history that I’ve managed to find on this establishment.
I love coming here with it’s overstocked shelves of all things ceramic – all in beautiful patterns and colours. The outside is also overflowing with vibrant coloured flower pots and one can’t help but be tempted to get something to take home. Besides that, from the outside area you get another view of the old gasworks building – there is something quite fascinating about this structure. (www.liebermannpottery.net)
Also in Cottesloe is the University of Johannesburg Bunting Road Campus, which holds regular art exhibitions in the FADA Gallery (Faculty of Art Design and Architecture). Join their Facebook page to keep up to date with what, and when, exhibitions are on.
Craighall Park lies to the north of the city centre, bordering Delta Park in the West and Parkhurst in the South. It’s very centrally situated to Hyde Park, Rosebank and Sandton.
In 1891 the farm Klipfontein was bought by William Gray Rattray who renamed it Craighall after his birthplace in Blairgowrie, Scotland. His estate comprised of the suburbs now known as Craighall Park, Craighall and Blairgowrie (You can read more on the history here – http://www.theheritageportal.co.za/article/short-history-craighall).
Way back in the 70’s I frequented the Craighall Park Hotel as it was owned briefly by some friends of mine, but have not been in the suburb for many years besides driving through along Jan Smuts. I recently returned to the area when I visited the REEA Foundation (Rand Epileptic Employment Association) which I had known about for some time but had just never got around to going to. It’s one of those places I wish I had made the effort to get to long ago.
Why am I excited about this place? Firstly it has an incredible second hand book shop and as an avid collector of collectible books (which they have in a special section and are reasonable priced) I was in my element. Besides that, it must be one of the most organised charity book stores I’ve ever been to. Everything is in categories and alphabetically sorted. The staff, made up of volunteers and residents of REEA, are friendly and helpful – to such an extent that I find it hard to leave.
Secondly, a few steps from the bookshop is the Bamboo Palace which does furniture restorations and holds paint technique classes, whilst a little bit further down is the Rambling Rose Charity Shop which is always good for a browse and to drop off your unwanted items.
Taking a walk past the horse stables and along a little dirt road past the veggies gardens makes one feel as if you are way out in the country, forgetting that just up the road Jan Smuts Avenue is gridlocked with traffic. I met Barry who took me into a hothouse (which I believe is a historical building) to show me the macro veggies he is cultivating. This place and it’s smells awakened childhood memories of my grandfather for me, as he had a similar type hothouse wherein he cultivated Barberton Daisies. At the veggie gardens I spotted a lemon tree with the biggest lemons on it that I have ever seen – Barry told me that the fruit is a cross between a lemon and a grapefruit, got a couple to take home to try.
On the property is also the Gerakaris Winery (read more about this here http://2summers.net/2018/02/12/winery-joburg) as well as the Co2 Lab, where you can take pottery classes or just browse around their shop, from which I got some stunning ceramic gift tags. Also on the property is the Colourful Splendour Nursery which is stocked with a huge variety of plants and all of your gardening requisites.
At last I reached the Delta Cafe for a much needed coffee break.
Rosebank lies between the city centre and Sandton and is a vibey suburb with just about everything at its fingertips. Whatever you are looking for, Rosebank pretty much has it. It is one of those suburbs that has me on speed dial – I visit here often and for many different reasons. The Red Bus ‘Green Route’ starts here, taking you on a trip of the northern part of the city and eventually connecting you to the ‘Red Route’ bus that goes out to Gold Reef City from Constitutional Court. Both routes are included in the price of the ride and it is a great way to explore the city. (https://www.citysightseeing.co.za/johannesburg/products/johannesburg-open-to-bus-tours.) There is also a Gautrain station for trips to the City, Sandton, O.R.Tambo International Airport, Midrand or Pretoria.
There are also a number of great art galleries in Rosebank situated on the strip now called Keyes Art Mile. I love to visit art galleries when it’s relatively quite, so a midweek morning is when I get my art appreciation fix. I’m a regular at Everard Read and Circa, ending with a quiet moment on the balcony at Circa taking in the view before heading for one of the eateries for lunch or coffee.
Talking art – Herbert Evans Art Shop (which is a one stop shop for all your art requirements) is another favourite stop of mine, even if I just go to browse. Herbert Evans also has quite a history in our city, arriving in 1889 with a cart, a ladder, some paint and brushes. In 1891 he opened his first store in Eloff Street and then a larger store in Pritchard Street in 1920 where the Innes Chambers now stands. I reckon 127 years in business is rather impressive.
Sunday mornings are also one of my favourite times to visit Rosebank especially when the Car Boot Sale is hosted once a month at the regular Rosebank Mall Sunday Market. There are always bargains to be found here and this is always on my sisters ‘to do’ list when she visits SA as it has a large variety of South African goods – and what you can’t find here you can be sure that you will find it at the African Market downstairs.
Rosebank is also full of sidewalk eateries, catering for just about all tastes. I love to sit at one of them and just watch the people going about their business. As Rosebank is so central, it is also a great place to meet friends. This has to be one of my favourite shopping suburbs.
Saxonwold has a large part of the Johannesburg Zoo, as well as the South African National Museum of Military History, falling within its borders. The latter definitely does not conjure up any interest for me as I think it’s very much a ‘boy thing’, however I do like the monument with the Angel of Peace looking West over the zoo; it’s there to honour the dead but for me it’s looking over the animals. The monument was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens who also designed the Johannesburg Art Gallery.
The suburb has its origins as part of the Braamfontein farm which was owned by Herman Eckstein. After discovering that the farm had no mineral deposits on it, he converted it into a timber plantation in 1891, called it Sachsenwald and planted more than 3 million trees. After his death, and in honour of him, the company Wernher, Beit & Company presented 200 acres of the farmland to the Town Council to be set aside for the purposes of a public park to be known as the Herman Eckstein Park. An interesting point is that both the Zoo and Zoo lake were never affected by the segregation of Apartheid laws.
The Johannesburg Zoo turned 114 years old this year and part of the celebrations was that the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation would run heritage tours every weekend throughout the month of March. So I visited here on a few occasions during the planning stages, collecting jackets for the tour guides and then doing the tour.
I’ve was never a fan of the Zoo, having memories of animals pacing up and down or around their horrid concrete cages, but their enclosures are now a whole lot more condusive to their well-being. Things have changed a lot from those days when the humans need to view the animals overruled the wellbeing of the animals. Seeing the delight of the children visiting the zoo, meeting some of the zookeeper’s and reading stories of the tight bonds they have with the animals they tend to, made it a whole lot easier to understand that maybe there is a need for such places.
Saxonwold also hit the media frenzy for a while with the “Saxonwold Shebeen”, otherwise it is a leafy suburb with some beautiful homes – homes where you are wakened by the sounds of the wilds
I’ll be back to visit the zoo, a great place to get a good walk in while observing the animals.
Rosettenville lies to the south of the city centre and is surrounded by La Rochelle, The Hill, Linmeyer and Kenilworth. It was established on the farm Turffontein in 1889 and is named after either Levin or Leo Rosettenstein, with a few of the streets named after their family members.
I don’t know too much about Rosettenville except that this is where the first Nando’s Restaurant opened in 1987 and which is still operational on Main Street. Also a little known fact about the area is that Oliver Tambo, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Hugh Masekela did part of their high school education at St. Peter’s College, now known as St. Martin’s School, in Rosettenville. Trevor Huddleston was also based at St. Peter’s who gave Hugh Masekela his first trumpet.
So enough with the history of the area – what would bring me back to Rosettenville?
The Southern Suburbs Public Swimming pool which is more like a resort than your average public swimming pool. We discovered this hidden gem on Sunday as part of our #20laps project which you can read up on http://www.jozirediscovered.co.za. The entrance fee is slightly higher than other public pools at R14 per person but well worth it. It was overcast on the day so the swimming pool was rather empty, this seems to be the norm in Johannesburg – a few dark clouds above and the pools are empty.
There are 4 pool areas within the confines – from a lap pool at the bottom and then right up the koppie to the slides. The area is nicely laid out with plenty of place to picnic with a few built in braai areas.
The highlight for anyone coming here must be the slides. They sure did look like a lot of fun. I can well imagine on a good day how crazy this pool might be.
It also has a tuck shop that opens on a good day, it was not open when we were there but is apparently run by Selo who also runs the Ellis Park Public Swimming Pool tuck shop.
The Southern Suburbs Public Swimming Pool is situated at the bottom of Short Street which runs off of Julius Street, Rosettenville.
Do you have any favourite places in Rosettenville?
Wendywood, surrounded by Kramerville, Morningside Manor and Gallo Manor and which falls under Sandton, is a residential suburb with pretty tree lined streets, a sports club and very little else to attract someone from the east, west or south rand unless you know someone in the area.
That all changed a few months ago when Alain Soriano opened the “Best Before” shop in what used to be the Spar in the Wendywood Centre. The Wendywood Centre is the original village shopping centre that once housed all the shops the neighbourhood needed for its basic requirements.
Getting back to the Best Before shop, I heard about it over the festive break and joined their Facebook page with all intentions of getting there ‘soon’. It sort of slipped my mind until this morning when on their FB page, which popped up on my stream, they were advertising my favourite chocolates. I had to get there before they were all sold out as these type of shops get consignments of many different types of merchandise that are either near or past their ‘best before’ date and then sell same at discounted prices. The ‘best before’ date does not mean the same as an ‘expiry date’ which can normally be found on fresh produce such as fruit, vegetables, milk, eggs, meat etc., but refers strictly to quality and NOT health safety – the date is recommended for best flavour/quality of the product. (More information on this subject can be found at http://www.foodstuffsa.co.za/sell-by-best-before-use-by-what-s-behind-product-dates.)
One packet of my favourite Reese’s turned into me coming home with one huge bag of bargains. It’s hard not to indulge oneself at the discounted prices with an average of a 50 percent saving. The shop also stocks items such as toiletries, washing powders and liquids.
Studies have shown that, on average, only about 25% of the population will consider using these type of products and it’s thus quite heartbreaking to think that this merchandise would generally end up in a landfill somewhere. Due to the sparsity of South African merchandise on the shelves one has to ask the question – has the South African retailer been converted to this concept of dumping goods after they have reached their ‘best by’ date as they think it may be detrimental to their product to be sold after that date ? Food for thought…
Thanks to the “Best Before” store I will be returning to Wendywood… well, at least until there is one hopefully established closer to where I live.
I have been unable to find any information on how Wendywood got its name or the history of the suburb.
Lorentzville is a small suburb on the eastern edge of the Joburg CBD, surrounded by Bertrams, Judith Paarl and Troyeville. It was established on the farm Doornfontein in 1892 and named after one of the early leaseholders, H. Lorentz (South African Place Names – Peter E Raper)
Lorentzville also only has one street running north to south – Viljoen Street. It is rather unusual that the boundary lines on the east and west side run in the middle of a block.
It was until a few years ago a relatively unknown suburb, then Nando’s head office moved into the area. However I think the biggest impact of putting Lorentzville on the map to the general public of Johannesburg has to be the ‘new kid on the block’ – Victoria Yards.
Victoria Yards is creating quite a stir in the art community with a lot of very well known South African artists establishing studios there. (Check out their web page for further details http://www.victoriayards.co.za.) They are also part of “First Sundays in The Valley” (very much like “First Thursday’s” which are held in other parts of the city, where galleries and studios have open days, allowing you time to get to know the artists and explore their studios.) and this is a great time to visit.
I love coming here and watching the development of the place, whilst being able to visit the studios of all the artists, watching the gardens develop and ending off with a great pizza at Impi breweries, which are conveniently situated on the premises.
My other favourite place in the suburb has to be Fama Delicatessen. Owned and run by Nuno and Carla Fernandes, they manufacture and sell the most delicious salamis, chorizo, pancetta, etc. They are situated at 12 Viljoen Street, just south of Victoria Yards. (for more information http://www.famadeli.co.za)
The Jukskei runs through Lorentzville and I have heard talk that a walking trail from Doornfontein to Bruma could be in the pipeline – I do so hope that this become a reality.
Lorentzville – how did I not know that you (and not Bellevue) had this pass, known as Stewart’s drive with its beautiful stone walls, in your suburb? I’m finding these little surprises quite interesting in my research of the suburbs of Johannesburg.
If there is one thing that makes me very happy it is to be able to kick my shoes off and walk around barefoot. To walk barefoot outside the whole day is my ultimate pleasure, receiving all those Negative Ions from the earth which have been proven to detoxify and calm you, amongst other benefits, is just the best. You might be asking at this stage what does this have to do with the suburb of Abbotsford?
Situated in the suburb of Abbotsford is the Johannesburg Melrose Shree Siva Subramaniar Temple which was founded in about 1899 by Tamil labourers who worked in the Melrose laundry. The temple is situated on the banks of the Sandspruit and has a large open green space next to it which they call Chinese Park (not sure why).
Once a year I attend the Hindu festival called Thai Poosam Kavady which is normally held in late January or early February. Thai Poosam represents the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai – this is a very important date in the Tamil calender as it represents the day on which Lord Muruga destroyed the demon Taraksura. It’s a time when the Tamil community get together to say their thanks, receive blessings and rid themselves of their burdens.
I do not follow any set form of religion but do find an uplifting spiritual feeling (not sure if that’s the right term) from attending this festival. It falls close to my birthday so I take it as the beginning of a new year for me with blessings and, in some strange way, a time for leaving my burdens behind me. This year I received a blessing with a stern order to ‘slow down’ which was given to me by hand signals and thankfully there is always someone to interpret this for one, as there are many people on the day willing to explain things to you.
As you are not permitted to wear shoes in the temple grounds, it is much easier to just not wear shoes throughout the festival and for this reason I have made the Johannesburg Melrose Shree Siva Subramaniar Temple my favourite place in Abbotsford.
I’ve added a few photographs from this years festival, however if you wish to find out more about this festival there is quite a lot of information the internet
Getting back to the suburb of Abbotsford which is part of my project to find my favourite places in each suburb of Johannesburg.
Abbotsford is a smallish suburb in the North East of the CBD surrounded by Birdhaven, Highlands North and Melrose. It was established in 1902 and named after Sir Walter Scott’s house near Melrose in the Scottish Borders. It really is a very pretty suburb with beautiful tree lined streets and a little piece of the James and Ethel Gray Park.