In 1891 the first horse-drawn tram moved out of market square and soon connected to such ‘far-flung’ suburbs of Belgravia (via Jeppestown), Fordsburg (another western township owned and laid out by Ford & Jeppe Estate Company – hence the name) and Doornfontein. *Click on images for better quality*
It’s a good example of Collegiate Gothic style that was popular for school buildings in Victorian times. It originally had red brick walls as pictured above. Salisbury House is across the road to the left.
By 1894 Jeppestown had 421 buildings, 2 churches, a masonic temple, St. Mary’s college for girls and a library. In 1897 it was described as having ‘the most amenities and the best area’ and ‘a neat little suburb on the outskirts of town proper’. Besides the horse trams and later in 1906 the electric trams, the other early benefit was that the government bought some of the land from Jeppe for a railway to pass through. He agreed on condition there was a station and that every train that passed through had to stop. This was advantageous in that a business hub grew around the station and of course it was very convenient for the suburb’s residents. This hub is probably responsible for the survival of so many buildings in the area.
Belgravia, like Doornfontein, would later see a mass exodus of the wealthy as they moved north to Parktown. Many of the large mansions were demolished and large stands subdivided to make way for smaller houses to accommodate the burgeoning middle classes. Although Belgravia is still a residential suburb today, Jeppe is a mixture of commercial and industrial. Very few (if any) of the original houses west of the railway survive. Many houses became blocks of small flats – some of which still survive. Others became buildings, factories or shops. Luckily, many of these buildings still stand. Other areas close by like Troyeville and Bertrams were also attractive to the working middle class who during the boom years started looking for houses for their families. The poorer whites flocked to western suburbs like Fordsburg, Burgersdorp, Vrededorp and Brickfields (Newtown). The even poorer black working class lived in mine compounds, locations near Vrededorp or simply in the veld in derelict buildings or abandoned claims.
Salisbury House was originally called Bern’s Building. A Mr. Anderson who bought it in 1908 and renamed it Salisbury House after a teacher, Miss Kate Salisbury from across the road at St. Mary’s Diocesan School. She soon became Mrs. Anderson. The building has been used in two South African films: ‘The Foster Gang’ and ‘The Cavaliers’.
Rathmines – Beardwood House
This was the home of Irish architect John Francis Beardwood who came to Johannesburg via California in 1895. He designed Parktown Convent on Oxford Road and Nazareth Home in Yeoville. He also worked on additions to Kensington Sanatorium (now clinic) and St. Mary’s College. In 2014 I came across a collection of old plans and found that Beardwood was also listed as architect for St. Agnes Mansions in Plein Street as well as Patlansky’s Corner on the corner of Joubert & Jeppe Street. I will add these plans as well as what stands there now at a later date.
His home below, built in 1903, was named ‘Rathmines’ after the suburb in Dublin where he and his family lived.
Built in 1902 it was originally owned by Charles Marx is now part of Jeppe Boys and used as a hostel. It’s known as Sable House.
Across the road from Thabana House stood Sir Julius Jeppe’s Friedenheim mansion. Friedenheim was demolished in the early 1960s after being deemed unsafe. All the remain of the house is the main gates pictured below.