In 2008 The Star newspaper published 2 articles using our pictures as reference.

  • Monday September 8 2008
  • Tuesday September 12 2008
ForeShoreEdition Date: Monday 8th September 2008
Ref No: JHB027 Titel: Wits University - Late 1930's

It's appropriate that, in a city that began as a mining town, the oldest institute of higher learning also has its origins in mining. The University of the Witwatersrand was first established as the South African School of Mines in Kimberley, in 1896. Eight years later, it was transferred to Joburg as the Transvaal Technical Institute.

Full university status was conferred in 1922, and construction began at Milner Park on a site donated to the university by the Joburg municipality. At that stage, the university had six faculties, 37 departments, 73 academic members of staff and little more than 1 000 students. Today, Wits has 4 354 academic members of staff and 26 166 registered students.

The university's original buildings are still standing. But the open spaces around them – visible in aerial photos taken in the late 1930s – have been shrunken by additional construction, which became necessary to accommodate the massive increases in staff and student numbers. After 1947, the beginning of the university's considerable growth spurt, the acquisition of additional property also became imperative.

The Wits campus now spreads over 400 hectares. Despite the many changes and additions that have taken place on the Wits campus since the university was founded, the single most distinctive image of Joburg's oldest institute of higher learning has stayed the same – the original rounded columns, leading upwards into an ornate and gabled roof.
• Information taken from

Ref No: JHB003 Titel: Brixton Tower - Late 1960's

The tower was touted as an astonishing feat of engineering, and was operational only two years after it was proposed. It was named after the minister of posts and telecommunications at the time, Dr Albert Hertzog. At 235m, it was the 11th tallest building in the world, and the tallest in Africa. Visitors were whisked to viewing platforms 178m high, where one described the panorama as "breathtaking in its beauty".

Forty-six years after it was constructed, the Brixton Tower is still the distinguishing feature of Joburg's western skyline. The surrounding landscape has changed, and developments have gobbled up the open spaces that once surrounded it, but the tower itself, with its elongated conical base, remains unchanged by the passage of time. In 1968, the building of the tower ushered in a new era in mass public broadcasting, and African-language broadcasting expanded with the founding of Radio Bantu, which was used to full advantage by apartheid propagandists.

Today, it's known as the Sentech Tower, and is used by the SABC and Post Office as a transmission tower. It has also been used for base jumping (an extreme sport that involves jumping off a structure with a parachute). Nine years after the Brixton Tower was built, the even taller Hillbrow Tower (269m) came to dominate Joburg's eastern skyline. These two towers, once trumpeted as achievements of white rule, have now been appropriated from the architects of apartheid to symbolise an inclusive and dynamic city. • Information taken from Ordinary Cities by Jennifer Robinson.

Ref No: JHB009 Titel: Johannesburg - Early 1930's

Joburg was established as a mining town 120 years ago in 1888, but it was granted official city status only on September 5, 1928. By virtue of a law passed by the Transvaal Provincial Council, Joburg became both the newest and largest city in South Africa. The early 1930s proved a time of considerable industrial growth in the city. This was also a time when formal wage opportunities for black people were extended.

Urban segregation meant that workers' residences were often far from their places of employment. And once they'd commuted to the city, which was designated a white area, they were unable to buy refreshments. This led to the emergence of a phenomenon called coffeecart trading. Initially the carts were small, mobile stalls trundled from the traders' homes to commercial and industrial sites. But with the introduction of stricter segregation laws, the distances became too great to make the daily journey, and the wheels came off the carts. Traders set up permanent food kiosks on the streets of 1930s Joburg, next to mushrooming skyscrapers and on nearby industrial sites, with their mountainous mine dumps.

Over the next few decades, as authorities noted with horror the intrusion of informal black traders into sacred white commercial space, they launched a battle to remove the traders, citing them as public health hazards. Today, it's hard to imagine Joburg's city streets without informal traders. The mine dumps in aerial photographs of the city centre in the early 1930s have vanished, and with them the idea that parts of Joburg should belong exclusively to one race. • Information taken from Retailing Environments in Developing Countries, by Allan Findlay, Ronan Paddison and John Dawson

Edition Date: Tuesday September 12th 2008
Ref No: JHB026 Titel: Wanderers "Last Cricket Match" - Late 1940's

Legend of Wanderers lives on in city of gold

Every gentleman needs a sports club. Even the early gold prospectors, hardy adventurers who'd come to Joburg in the late 19th century with gleaming nuggets on the brain, needed some sort of civilised sports association. No sooner had the prospectors arrived in the Transvaal, than they'd formed the Witwatersrand's first rugby club, in 1886. They were nomads in search of a precious metal, so they called their club the Wanderers Rugby Club. The Wanderers Cricket Club soon followed, at a time when Joburg was nothing more than a few shacks in the dusty veld. In 1888, club members approached the Republican government with a request for formal grounds, and a piece of land north of Noord Street was made available. The lease was signed in 1890, and was set to expire after 99 years.

The annual rent was £50. In 1889, a decision was taken to form one club, the Wanderers, which would offer a range of sports. Within a few years of its formation, the Wanderers became a premier sporting site. Athletics and cycling were among the main attractions, bringing in most of the club's revenue. With the coming of the motor cycle and the motor car, cycling declined in popularity. Shortly after the Boer War, the railway station on the club's southern boundary gave its first expansive heave, spelling the doom of the only cycle track in Joburg at the time.

After World War 1, the rugby and tennis headquarters were moved to Ellis Park, but cricket and soccer remained at the Wanderers. Sport was not the only recreational activity that took place at the club. Before the building of the town hall, the club was the social centre of the community. The grounds were in constant demand for church services, public meetings, receptions, demonstrations and military parades. President Kruger spoke there. In 1932, greyhound racing was introduced, but it came to an end shortly after World War 2 as a result of objections from church bodies and other upstanding citizens who frowned upon gambling. At that time, the total membership was about 3 000. As the skyscrapers of Joburg began to demand more and more ground, members clung to their premises which, although ascetically unattractive, were soaked in tradition. In 1904, and again in 1927, the railway had expropriated chunks of the club's ground.

In 1943, it finally claimed the remainder. Club members did not submit without a fight, and controversy raged, but eventually Wanderers was forced to submit before the demands of a space-hungry city. It was a bitter moment, but there was the consolation of Kent Park – a section of land in Illovo which had been purchased in the 1930s to house the club's overflow.

Members set about expanding the Kent Park grounds. The clubhouse was built in 1950, and five years later, the stadium, with seating for 36 000 people. A swimming pool followed, and the club introduced table tennis, fencing, billiards and snooker.

In 1982, Wanderers took the bold step of introducing multiracial membership, despite government opposition. As the club entered its 10th decade, international sanctions against South African sport resulted in a decline in test match usage of the stadium – the country's premier cricket venue. The stadium became a financial liability. Relentless inflation and economic depression added to the problem, and in 1989, the club decided to sell.

Thereafter, a slow decline in membership increased financial strain. Membership numbers dropped from 11 916 in 1988/89 to 5 471 in 2006/07 – a decrease of over 54% in 18 years. At the turn of the century, windfalls such as the World Summit and the Cricket World Cup generated sufficient income to turn the club's fortunes around.

Then, in 2004, a devastating fire gutted the entire clubhouse. Insurance money was used to rebuild, and although many original features were lost, the new building and its decor have been accepted and praised by local and foreign visitors.

The club is booked months, and sometimes years in advance. It caters for events such as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, including kosher and halaal weddings, and corporate events from small meetings to large conferences, banquets and exhibitions. Times have changed.

The sporting gentlemen of the 19th century have given way to a generation of instant gratification seekers. But despite the upheavals witnessed over 120 years of history, the Wanderers Club has maintained its place in the Joburg community as a family oriented environment offering a range of social facilities.
• Information taken from The Old Gold by Thelma Gutsche.
Edition Date: Friday 22nd October 2004
Ref No: CP032 Titel: Newlands - Late 1940's
MICHAEL MORRIS (Special Writer)

IN ESSENCE, Newlands was as Newlands is: the unmistakable rectangles of turf hallowed by generations of rugby and cricket followers, and the brewery - always more or less inseparable from the play, or the hoarse rooting for the players - forming this suburb's core in the 1940s when this picture was taken, as much as now. In the foreground, the Kelvin Grove club looks like a large farmstead at the centre of thickly hedged cultivation. The pretensions of gentility are misleading: what Kelvin assuredly was then was a bastion of waspish Cape Town's more brutish impulses - no Jews allowed. You cannot tell from the photograph, but it's striking that the modest suburban spread in the background was not a racially cleansed one.

The Group Areas Act was some years away still and there were, throughout the bucolic southern suburbs, communities of people later forced out to the new "coloured" areas of the Cape Flats. In Newlands, their often humble cottages are today sought-after pads in a quarter that witnessed rapid gentrification after being declared a "white group area". At the time this photograph was taken, the railway line and Main Road were the only arteries linking Muizenberg and Table Bay, and the forested slopes reach deeper into the suburb. The Sports Science Institute has filled the old "B" field, the stands flanking the rugby ground seem puny and the cricket ground on the left looks impossibly unkempt, but really, it's the same old place.
Edition Date: Friday 29th October 2004
Ref No: CP023 Titel: The Old Pier - Mid 1930's
MICHAEL MORRIS (Special Writer)

SEASIDE towns, the record suggests, struggled against the gathering modernity of the 20th century to stay true to their gentler waterside beginnings. This photograph hints at a lingering Edwardian languor of mid-century Cape Town that was soon ended by the Foreshore reclamation project, undertaken in the name of progress and prosperity. It turned the defining seafront into a utilitarian zone. The Irish writer, James Joyce, once memorably described the pier as "a disappointed bridge", and it points to the intriguing idea of the pier as something between a destination and a means of transit. You can't be on a pier without being compelled to get to the end of it, and it seems a journey in itself.

For those who remember it, Cape Town's pier was a place of amusement and delight. Bands played, and the orchestra too, children licked ice creams, lovers idled, trysts were made, the more energetic rowed hired boats, the thoughtful paced up and down. But the pier also offered a perspective of Cape Town that was almost exotic: the view, in a sense, of the traveller, the new arrival, borne by sea, peering over the deck rail. It offered residents an opportunity for a sort of visual audit of their home town. And so it is in a way, for us, looking at the picture. It is hard to believe, for instance, that the tree-lined roadway in the foreground on the left is the lower end of Strand Street, and that the City Hall is the most dominant building. In time, romantics will no doubt wonder at the lost splendour of the Cape Town of 2004.
Edition Date: Friday 5th November 2004
Ref No: CP047 Titel: Peninsula - Early 1950's
MICHAEL MORRIS (Special Writer)

SOME of the most obvious elements of mid-20th century Cape Town are probably not, on reflection, the most telling. There's a charming suburban feel to Sea Point, with not a high-rise building to be found, and the look at least of a neighbourhood-by-the-sea, the grid of family homes reaching all the way down to the beachfront. Green Point common looks positively bare, and there's only a modest ribbon of development to define a Mouille Point that we know today as a chunky zone of steadily agglomerating development. The full extent of the Foreshore reclamation is starkly illustrated, leaving the city centre detached and incomplete somehow.

But the alteration of all these features - the densification of the Atlantic seaboard and the development of the Foreshore - can be explained chiefly by the more or less natural processes of population growth, urbanisation and trade, the agents of the organic evolution of human settlement common to all parts of the world for thousands of years. The same cannot be said for the portion of Cape Town's topography - here, between the docks and the slim band of the False Bay coastline - which, at mid-century, was sparsely occupied and held no special attractions for settlement. It was sandy and windy, and anyone settling there would have to trek a long way to jobs, schools and shops. Yet this landscape was steadily occupied, by decree, in a careless political experiment that created eventually one of the most telling socio-political features of the city.
Edition Date: Friday 12th November 2004
Ref No: CP039 Titel: University of Cape Town - Late 1930's
MICHAEL MORRIS (Special Writer)

THERE'S an Athenian quality to this mid-20th century view of the University of Cape Town. The augustness and the symmetry of the architecture of the campus expresses a classical ethos at the heart of the academy's self-image and its scholarly intentions in a rapidly modernising world after World War 2. The columned face of Jameson Hall provides a grand focus that is probably only slightly diminished in today's setting by the agglomeration of buildings behind it. The symmetry of the relatively modest campus has also been unsteadied by architecturally disparate elements added over the past half-century. In contrast to the dozen or so buildings that formed the academy then, UCT has since sprawled across the site and reached beyond it.

For all its modest scale, there is a sense of loftiness here that is probably chiefly the result of the university occupying a setting that, at first, seems rural. In the 1940s, the car was not yet dominant as Cape Town's primary means of transport and it is striking how dissociated the campus is in this picture from the rest of the city in contrast to the present. Two cars are visible here travelling along the single-lane road, skirting the university's sports fields, that in time became the four-lane M3 motorway, scything the campus from the rest of the estate on which it was built. Evidently, back in the 1940s, one of the virtues of the campus was that finding somewhere to park your car was not much of a headache.
Edition Date: Friday 19th November 2004
Ref No: CP020 Titel: Table Mountain - Early 1950's
MICHAEL MORRIS (Special Writer)

SEVERAL of the photographs in this series of aerial views of mid-20th century Cape Town have provided a graphic sense of the City Bowl and the nascent Foreshore at a time when the society was less obviously fragmented than it would become over the next few decades. This picture is perhaps the clearest illustration so far of the physical integration of the disparate communities occupying the basin formed by the mountain and the sea. This is the site of the contest of interests between the indigenous inhabitants and the sea-borne settlers who, "by the sword", as Jan van Riebeeck's diarist described it in 1660, established a permanent presence and spurred colonialism in southern Africa.

This contest, and the infusion of influences from elsewhere in Africa, the East and Far East and parts of Europe, has always been a critical, sometimes volatile, part of Cape Town's identity. And, in the geography of the city basin, it was District Six that seemed to encapsulate the messy, rich, violent, flamboyant, colourful identity of Cape Town. It is the district right at the heart of this picture, the dense settlement beneath Table Mountain that we know today as the grassy, windy swathe that's the subject of perpetual argument and more or less continuing developmental inaction. District Six has been much romanticised, but its razing under apartheid laws destroyed the cohesion of a community that was scattered across the Cape Flats and undermined the economy of the eastern quadrant of the city. Cape Town lives with the consequences still.
Edition Date: Friday 26th November 2004
Ref No: CP042 Titel: Woodstock - Late 1930's
MICHAEL MORRIS (Special Writer)

WOODSTOCK beach was a dazzling stretch of sand in the 1940s, and a short walk from Woodstock station -the platforms of which are just visible on the right of this photograph, midway up - or the Esplanade station, just below. The beach, of course - and the charcoal-coloured building that looks rather like a pavilion of sorts - is no more, having been absorbed by the Foreshore reclamation. Today, this section of Woodstock overlooks, across the N1 freeway, the Royal Cape Yacht Club and Sturrock Dock. But much is recognisable here. Though the old Castle brewery no longer operates at this site, it amalgamated with Ohlsson's in Newlands under the aegis of South African Breweries, the Castle building remains a Woodstock landmark.

The road leading into the photograph at an angle from the bottom left-hand corner, and bridging the railway line near the grain silos, is Lower Church, and is today the main access route into Woodstock from the N1 freeway. In the top left-hand corner, the two churches facing each other diagonally across Aberdeen Street are still there.Another recognisable feature, at the top of the photograph and more or less in the centre, is Mountain Road, the broad, steep link between Victoria Road - which, from neighbouring Salt River, becomes Main Road - and the upper part of residential Woodstock, at Palmerston Road, just below the N2 freeway.
Edition Date: Friday 03rd December 2004
Ref No: CP004 Titel: City Bowl - Early 1950's
MICHAEL MORRIS (Special Writer)

PUFFING steam trains leave their telltale traces at the edge of the city centre in this late 1930s or early 1940s panorama of Cape Town. It's a reminder that visitors to the Cape - those arriving by train anyway - and commuters coming in from the north or the southern suburbs, would have been drawn into the city centre with views of a glimmering Table Bay on one side and the city and mountain on the other. In contrast to the eight photographs in this series published so far, this shot is not an aerial picture, but was taken from the slopes of Signal Hill. It offers the chance to spot landmarks that still exist, and single out features and buildings that have since made way for modernity. Some elements are easier to see than others.

The City Hall is its old dominant self in this picture, but less easy to make out is the old neo-Classical steeple of St George's Cathedral. Near the right-hand edge is another neo-Classical form, that of parliament, although it seems very modest tucked in between other taller, squatter blocks. The evolution of the city centre as a central business district still had some decades to run when this photograph was taken. It was quickened by the Foreshore development, but even in the older city, the shift to commercial use claimed several venerable department stores and tea rooms that were very much a part of Cape Town life. It is fascinating, now, spotting the buildings that have been, or are being, re-formed as luxury residential blocks in Cape Town's newest bout of self-reinvention.