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Joburg's famous pioneers Print E-mail
06 March 2007
JOHANNESBURG'S street names commemorate the gold rush town's first pioneers.

Here's a description of some of them:

Ruthless entremepeneur Joseph Benjamin Robinson, one of the earliest and richest of the Randlords

Robinson Street in Jeppestown takes its name from Joseph Benjamin Robinson, one of the first entrepreneurs of the town. Once a trader and cattle dealer, Robinson rushed to the gold fields of Johannesburg from Kimberley, where he had made money in the diamond rush. He assessed the situation and acted quickly. He started buying farms in the area, at first leasing the farm Langlaagte where the original find was made, then he bought the farm. In total he spent £26 000, which was worth £8 million in a few years. The Robinson Deep mine is one of many mines in Johannesburg.

Colonel Ignatius Phillip Ferreira was one of the first pioneers to arrive at the reef, even before the official proclamation. At the time he was a resident of Pretoria, where he was born, but had spent time in Kimberley. He trekked over from Pretoria and outspanned in the present-day Diagonal Street, on the old Kimberley road. Prospectors set up camp in the same spot and the area soon became known as Ferreira's Camp. Today the area is known as Ferreirasdorp, and there's a street called Ferreira Street in the suburb.

Carl von Brandis, appointed mining commissioner in 1886

Von Brandis and Commissioner streets
Captain Carl von Brandis was born in Germany of an old military family. He served in the Hungarian and British armies. He sailed in 1857 for the Cape and was given land on the eastern frontier. He was appointed gold commissioner when the farms were proclaimed open diggings in September 1886 and set up his office in a tent. He was appointed to the post of landdrost in 1900. A street in downtown Johannesburg is called Von Brandis Street, and there are five more in surrounding areas and suburbs. Commissioner Street in the city centre was named after commissioner Von Brandis because he erected a tent on the street.

Eloff Street
Jan Eloff was appointed as Von Brandis' clerk and took over from him as mining commissioner in 1900. There are a 12 streets named after Eloff across the broader Johannesburg area, the first one being one of the major streets of the CBD.

Jan Eloff, son-in-law of President Paul Kruger, succeeded Von Brandis as mining commissioner

Sauer Street
Dr Hans Sauer was Johannesburg's first district surgeon. In April 1887 a small hospital was set up in a small corrugated iron building in which he worked. Sauer Street in central Johannesburg houses The Star newspaper offices and the ANC headquarters.

Harrison Street in the inner city is not named after George Harrison, the man credited with finding the reef, but rather after John Spranger Harrison, a prospector and member of the first Diggers' Committee.

Johann Rissik, first clerk in the office of the surveyor-general

Rissik Street Central Johannesburg's main north-south arterial, Rissik Street, takes its name from Johann Rissik, land surveyor of early Johannesburg, and its first administrator. Rissik was born in Holland and arrived in Pretoria in 1876, and moved to the gold rush town in 1886.

Fox Street is named after Samuel Fox, who states that he, Johann Rissik and Mackie Walker were responsible for naming the street in Marshalltown. His companions suggested that one of the streets be called Fox. He was a pioneer on the Rand, and was a popular and much respected man with a wooden leg.

Loveday Street takes its name from Richard Kelsey Loveday, a Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek Volksraad member. Loveday was born in Pietermaritzburg in 1854 but although he was a Rand pioneer, he lived in Pretoria from 1872, where he died in 1910.


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Last Updated on 10 January 2013