Jeppestown & Belgravia Pt.1 (Friedenheim & Jeppe Boys)

Finally, the next suburb installment in bite sized parts. There will be one odd post slotted in between the Jeppe/Belgravia volumes covering my house which turns 100 this month. I’ll be posting some of the original plans as well as a few features that still remain. Regular readers of this intermittent blog will know that it was the quest to find a photo of the original house that started this whole fascination with old Johannesburg and the story/comic/script that came out of that.

View of Jeppe from 1891

View of Jeppe from 1891

In 1888 the Ford & Jeppe Estate company leased a non-mineralised portion of farmland from FJ Bezhuidenhout’s Doornfontein farm. This land was laid out as Jeppestown township named after Julius G.E.C Jeppe, Sir Julius Jeppe’s father (the old man was the suburb manager until his death in 1893 and the first monument erected in Johannesburg in the Jeppe oval is in his honour).

The first monument in Johannesburg 1894

The first monument in Johannesburg 1893

Jeppe monument from early 1900s

Jeppe monument in the oval from early 1900s

Jeppe was ‘for the man of limited purse’ but as it became harder to get property in Doornfontein, Belgravia was developed just east of Jeppe in 1889 as an exclusive suburb. Sir Julius Jeppe built his mansion Friedenheim there. Abe Bailey and JB Robinson both had mansions in the suburb. The first house was built in Park Street in 1892.

Julius Jeppe's house Friedenheim

Julius Jeppe’s house Friedenheim in Robinson Street built 1895

The mansion was built by John Moffat and designed by Carter & McIntosh. It had a vast wooden verandah as cast iron imports were not available at the time. During the war it became headquarters for the Commander-in-Chief Lord Kitchener. Mining magnate Abe Bailey later occupied the house and it held 300 guests at the 1912 New Year’s party. In 1916 it was bought by the department of education and became hostel Tsessebe House part of Jeppe Boys. The building was demolished in the early 60s when it was deemed unsafe. All that remains are the entrance gates.

Jeppe Boys High School around 1910

Jeppe Boys High School around 1910

Jeppe Boys today

Jeppe Boys today

In 1890 the Anglican Church established St Michael’s College in Troyeville on the corner of Crown and Commissioner Streets (where Fairview Junior School still stands). The buildings of the School were bought by the Witwatersrand Council of Education in 1897 and the School was renamed the Jeppestown Grammar School. Financial difficulties forced the parents to assume responsibility in 1898. It was closed for the duration of the Anglo Boer War and in 1902 re-opened its doors. It became a government school, one of the so-called Milner Schools, in 1903 and renamed the Jeppestown High School for Boys and Girls.

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Jeppestown Grammar School

The current Jeppe Boys stone buildings were built in 1909 on land donated by Sir Julius Jeppe. They were designed by Ralston, a student of Sir Herbert Baker. The Prep School, also initially a private school, occupied the buildings in Troyeville that the High School vacated when it moved to new premises. Building of the new Prep School commenced in 1916 on land also donated by the Jeppe family at the end of College Street. In 1919, after the First World War, the Girls’ School was established in their new buildings further down Roberts Avenue and the Boys’ School became Jeppe High School for Boys.

Jeppe Boys High website has more (above text taken from the website)

Side note: I was a Std.6  pupil at Jeppe Boys in 1986 (Johanesburg’s centenary year). Jake White was one of my class teachers and James Dalton was in my English class. The school and I did not agree on several levels and I left at the end of that year. I recall even then taking an interest in the old buildings.

Belgravia Oval ealry 1900s

Belgravia Oval early 1900s

Belgravia also has the dubious honour of being the first gated suburb in Johannesburg with its own short-lived toll road. The intention was to collect money for the upkeep of the roads but it proved to be unpopular and was eventually abandoned. The gates were across the road from where Salisbury House is now at the corner of Berg and Marshall Street. Belgravia was not allowed to have any businesses in the area. Stands were large and roads wide.

Belgravia toll gates

Toll gates leading into Belgravia

Thanks to Sharon Heibner for the Jeppestown Grammer School picture.

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This entry was published on October 7, 2012 at 12:00 am. It’s filed under Johannesburg and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “Jeppestown & Belgravia Pt.1 (Friedenheim & Jeppe Boys)

  1. Pingback: Old Johannesburg blog | Marc Latilla

  2. Patrick Button on said:

    Spare a thought for the late Douglas Watt who for decades was a signwriter in JHB. He was responsible for updating the Honours Board at several schools, including Jeppe boys as he one one of the very few people who held a licence to purchase and possess the gold leaf used for the names on those boards. Douglas Watt lived in Kensington as well as Fairview and died in the 1990’s.

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