Past Tours

Past Tours Quarter Two 2022

Date: 23rd April 2022

Guides: Ed Coogan and David Gurney

Description: This is the perfect tour for a beautiful autumn day. We begin with a short walk along the pretty Linden Stream, to see the upper pond and the cosmos last stand of 2022. We then visit a 1930s enclave – at one time a sewerage treatment facility for the north side of Johannesburg. There is the original waste water treatment building, a group of homes for municipal officials, and a workers’ compound, all built in the International Style which London chose for its underground and power stations at that same time – the Thirties. The sewerage plant was built in 1931 and became derelict in 1963. The main building was due for demolition but was reborn in the 1970s as a conservation centre. See how the old treatment plant vessel has been incorporated into the attractive environmental museum, where we will have a mini tour.

Tip your hat to the tallest palm trees in Johannesburg, and for an hour or two, imagine yourself back in the days when this was open farmland beyond our city. We then take a walk in the forest and look at the Art Deco houses, sadly in need of attention…

We walk to the Bird Sanctuary and on to the Braamfontein Spruit, with so many oaks, London Planes, and other trees in their autumn splendour.

The Delta Park entrance is easy to find. Going north along Barry Hertzog Avenue, which becomes Rustenburg Road then1st Avenue Linden, drive over the Westdene Spruit, pass King David School, and then turn right into Road No 3 at the Engen garage (opposite McDonalds). At the end you are facing one of the gates. Drive in, turn left, and drive to the Delta Environmental Centre where there is ample parking.

Please bring a change of shoes, as the park is very muddy after so much rain.

Anyone booked or planning to join should call the leaders before the start as this tour is very subject to the weather!

Date: Sunday 10 April 2022

Guides: Brian McKechnie and Flo Bird

Description: 1 Federation Road. Drive into the main entrance to Hollard Insurance. Drive along the spacious driveway up to the Villa itself and meet in the Music room. 

Date: Saturday 2 April 2022

Guides: Cathie van Rooyen and David Gurney

Description:

Johannesburg used to be a City of Arcades. They were an attractive option for property owners keen on maximising valuable retail space and a boon to shoppers, providing them with protection from the rain, dirt and dust.

Our Victorian and Edwardian arcades were usually charming, delicate cast-iron structures supporting a glass roof canopy, with exquisitely tiled floors. Unfortunately, almost all were lost in the rush to modernise and make investments pay. But one survived the carnage.

Hidden between bustling Gandhi Square and a forgotten corner of Fox Street, Somerset House was boarded up by the United Building Society and used to house safety deposit boxes; its chequerboard floor and green art-nouveau tiles lost to view. But now, through the vision of Gerald Olitzki (who revived nearby Gandhi Square, Fox Street and beyond) it has been returned to its former glory.

We are privileged to be offering an opportunity to explore historic Somerset House as well as some of the city’s lost arcades. This is a tour not to be missed, with a cast of amazing characters and fascinating stories about the early days of Johannesburg.

Past Tours Quarter One 2022

Date: Saturday 19 March 2022

Guides: Flo Bird, Cheche Selepe and David Gurney

Description: In honour of Human Rights weekend, the JHF celebrates the history of Dube, Soweto, and some of its famous residents.

Dube was envisaged as the first township where black residents would be able to design their own homes and it attracted many intellectuals and free spirits who yearned to be free of the little boxes available elsewhere.

In Pioneer Street, for example, we encounter professors, PHD’s, and the legendary playwright and director Gibson Kente. We also visit a humble home that housed two famous couples: Dr. AB Xuma and his wife Kate (when they were evicted from Sophiatown) and Dr. Nthato Motlana and his wife Sally (who led the Committee of 10, an unofficial group of concerned citizens that was the only authority recognised in Soweto during the 1980s).

Dube also boasts many other famous names: Andrew Mlangeni, a cadre of MK who served 28 years on Robben Island; Business tycoon Richard Maponya, who started his first store just around the corner from his small home; and author Alan Paton, who was headmaster of nearby Diepkloof Reformatory.

This bus and walking tour through historic Dube is the perfect way to celebrate Human Rights Day!

Date: Saturday 12 March 2022

Guides: Clare van Zwieten, Jonathan Felix and Nicola Noble

Description: Exactly 100 years ago in March, a strike by white mineworkers in Johannesburg erupted into armed conflict. This ‘Rand Revolt’ of 1922 quickly spread across the city and resulted in nearly two weeks of mayhem.

To commemorate the centenary of the Rand Revolt, the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation and Friends of Johannesburg Cemeteries will be unveiling a memorial to all those who lost their lives in the rebellion – miners, policemen, soldiers, and civilians.

The date chosen, 12 March, is when some of the fiercest fighting took place, at the Battle of Brixton Ridge and on the corner of Braamfontein Cemetery, alongside what is now Enoch Sontonga Road.

Councillor Ronald Harris MMC and a descendent of an innocent revolt victim will be doing the unveiling, while a piper from the Transvaal Scottish Regiment plays the Lament.

Following the unveiling, there will be a tour through some graves associated with the revolt.

This is a free event but booking is essential as numbers are limited. Donations are welcome.

Date: Saturday 5 March 2022

Guides: Busi Letwaba and David Gurney

Description: The Market Theatre has been at the heart of our city’s cultural life since it was founded in 1976, and we are all familiar with the magnificent Edwardian market building that houses the theatre and Museum Africa. But over the last few years, several new developments have expanded the capacity and reach of the Market.

Join the JHF as we explore the beloved old Market complex along with the newly built Market Square, which has brought an interesting new dynamic to the arts hub of Newtown. With award-winning architecture and a superb sense of design, Market Square is buzzing with students from the estimable Market Theatre Laboratory and Market Photo Workshop.

This tour offers arts enthusiasts and drama students a unique opportunity to peek behind the scenes and finding out more about the Market’s rich history and very promising future. 

Date: Sunday 27 February 2022

Guides: Denise Alexander

Description: Spend a Sunday afternoon exploring the interesting old suburb of Melville and its beautiful koppies.

Enjoy an attractive potpourri of architecture, beautiful jacarandas, the slightly-jaded glam of 7th Street (recently voted one of the coolest streets in the world according to Time Out magazine), a good slice of history and, of course, the ancient koppies with their breath-taking views.

Please note: this is a strenuous tour, decidedly not for the infirm.

Date: Saturday 19 February 2022

Guides: William Gaul

Description: The Johannesburg Country Club is located in a relatively little-known but idyllic corner of the city. Spend an afternoon enjoying the superb gardens and exploring the history of the Club, which ties in so closely to that of Joburg itself.

As part of the tour we’ll visit the Secretary’s Residence and its lovely garden, view the original squash court with its antique but very effective air conditioning system, and pay our respects at the garden of remembrance.

We’ll also pop in at the old stable where members’ horses, polo ponies and hunters were attended to, and chat about the original spruit (still running) and lake that developed out of the original farm dam – a lovely spot where the dandified beaux of Johannesburg wooed the young ladies.

Date: Saturday 12 February 2022

Guides: Joy Campkin-Smith and David Gurney

Description:

Starting in Wexford Avenue, we visit a rather special home with a surprising shape. We then walk along this lovely street lined with jacarandas to Parkview where we’ll visit two blue plaque houses with architecture that covers a range of styles dating back to 1907 – the year Parkview was proclaimed as a township.

In between the gables (very popular at the time) and the occasional turret, we’ll also get to know some of the many personalities who made this area their home – from the admirable Major O’Hara who helped establish Wits University in the face of government opposition, to the early land surveyor Pritchard, to a not-so-admirable previous Prime Minister who lived cheek by jowl with a great lady of the stage. All in all, this is a fascinating tour that’s sure to delight.

 

Date: Saturday 5 February 2022

Guides: David Gurney and Alkis Doucakis

Description: Property development gurus ‘Divercity’ have finally launched their latest inner-city regeneration precinct, Jewel City. Centred on a pedestrianised and landscaped portion of Fox Street, Jewel City provides a glimpse of how the entire inner-city can be reimagined and turned into a thriving neighbourhood.

But long before the coffee shops, artisanal bakeries and rooftop bars, this precinct (mainly New Doornfontein) had a vitality and historical richness unequalled in the city.

Under the expert guidance of Alkis Doukakis, who for many years has exhaustively researched the area, we explore the city’s earliest water sources, a unique industrial heritage, places of worship and the old diamond district.

Date: Sunday 30th January 2022

Guides: David Fleminger

Description: Joburg’s ridges are its defining feature and the Linksfield Ridge is one of its most magnificent. This heritage hike takes us along the iconic Linksfield Ridge through the Harvey Nature Reserve, with spectacular views across Kensington and Orange Grove.

It’s memorable walk that features a wealth of bird and plant life, quirky historical stories, a geological heritage that goes back 3 billion years, and some of the best selfie opportunities in Joburg! You’ll also get the latest updates on our efforts to reclaim the ridge, in partnership with Johannesburg City Parks.

Date: Saturday 29th January 2022

Guides: James Ball

Description: The Heritage Portal is South Africa’s leading history and heritage website – filled with interesting articles and fascinating facts you just won’t find anywhere else. Now, to celebrate its 10th year online, join us for a live virtual presentation with the founder and curator of the site, James Ball, who’ll take behind the scenes of his passion project.
Learn why the Portal got started and how it has evolved over the years. Discover the most popular stories of the last decade, as well as a few of his favourite pieces. Hear about the curve balls that threatened to stop the Portal in its tracks and how these challenges were overcome. James will also speak of the massive amount of energy being invested in creating a South African Heritage Directory. And get a sneak peak at some hidden functionality known to only a few Portal enthusiasts.

Date: Sunday 23rd January 2022

Guides: Brett McDougal and David Fleminger

Description: The Orange Grove Waterfall is one of Joburg’s secret spaces – little known to even lifelong residents of the area. Now, thanks to a grant from the JHF, this lovely perennial cascade is finally getting the care and attention it deserves.

Join us for an open day at the waterfall which will include the official unveiling of the Blue Plaques commemorating the waterfall and House Bleloch, a walk to the waterfall, and a first-hand account of the mammoth clean-up effort that’s been spearheaded by the JHF. This will be followed by a community clean-up.