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BOKSBURG HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION BOKSBURG HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION The past is

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					                                                        BOKSBURG HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION
                                                                       The past is the key to the future

  SEPTEMBER                                Fireman Chauffeurs Mayor While School Burns!


                                        F
                                              ire brigades are much like parachutes – if       man the 3 fire tenders, drive the ambulances
     2005                                     they are not there when you need them, the       and chauffeur the mayoral vehicle on re-
   Number 129                                 chances are that you won’t need them a           quest. A recipe for disaster!
                                              second time.
                                                                                                 This disaster occurred on the evening of
                                                                                                           nd
                                          In 1904 Boksburg was the first town on the           Monday 22 September 1952 when there
                                        East Rand to appoint a full-time Fire Chief.           was a fire at CBC School. When the Brothers
                                        Eight years later the city fathers and resi-           called the fire department, there were only
                                        dents of our neighbouring town, Benoni, had            two firemen on duty, the new Fire Chief and
                                        a very good reason to laud the gallant fire-           a fireman! Two men were off duty, 2 firemen
                                        men of the Boksburg Fire Brigade when they             were out with the ambulances attending to
                                        saved Benoni Town from burning to the                  emergencies and one man was driving the
                                        ground.                                                mayor to a function. It was a nightmare
                                                                                               situation for the new Fire Chief especially
                                                                 th
                                          On the evening of 9 May 1912 a passing               when he found there were no fire hoses in the
                                        cyclist, Mr J Smith, spotted flames flickering         school building and valuable time was
                                        in the shop window of Sheffield’s Furniture            wasted chopping out the weeds around the
1. Fireman                              Store in Princes Avenue. Assisted by                   blocked fire hydrant. To add to their woes,
   Chauffeurs                           passers-by he broke the window in an effort            the water pressure was too low and their
   Mayor While                          to put out the fire but unfortunately the blaze        efforts were hindered even further by hun-
                                        flared uncontrollably and spread to the                dreds of gawking residents.
   School Burns                         nearby shops. With no fire department of
                                        their own, the town officials called Boksburg            Forty years after the disastrous fire in Benoni,
2. Notable                              for assistance. When the Boksburg tender               their Fire Department was able to help us when
    Boksburg                            with 6 firemen arrived on the scene time was           they assisted the two Boksburg firemen battling to
                                        wasted because they had to do emergency                extinguish the flames at CBC School. Unfortunately
                                        plumbing alterations to the water hydrant.             by the time the fire was put out the entire top floor
3. Triumph of                           The fittings in Benoni differed to those of            of the school had been gutted. This time the resi-
   the Slaves                           Boksburg. Thirty minutes after changing the            dents of Boksburg were up in arms and the reputa-
                                        connections the fire was extinguished.                 tion of our fire department was under scrutiny.

4. Then and Now                           Before the end of 1912 the municipality of             This long forgotten scandal of Boksburg’s
   & Diary of                           Benoni had added a fire department to the              fire department ruined the reputation of the
                                        town’s services as a result of a commission            local emergency services at the time.
   Events                               of enquiry demanded by the angry residents.
                                                                                                 However, the men and women of the Boks-
                   Boksburg               1952 was probably the worst year for the             burg Emergency Services have proudly re-
                    Historical          Boksburg fire Brigade. In July that year, Fire         built their reputation. Now internationally
                  Association           Chief W. Boyes died and was buried with full           renowned for their expertise, courage and
                                        honours. Shortly thereafter the brigade’s sec-         humanity they have, from time to time, been
           P O Box 18242                ond in command died. These deaths de-                  called upon to assist communities all over
                                        pleted the department’s personnel down to 8            the world when natural disasters such as
            Sunward Park
                                        men; half the complement the brigade had in            earthquakes,    floods,   landslides    and
                    1470                1912. These eight men were expected to                 Tsunamis wreak havoc.

Web address:
www.geocities.com/boksburghistorical/                                 Executive Committee 2005-2006
E-mail address:                         Chairman                          Jimmy Mitchell                       011   824-3430 (W)
boksburghistorical@gmail.com            Deputy Chairman                   Phil Beck                            082   467-7805
                                        Treasurer                         Connie Nelson-Esch                   011   892-0703
                                        Secretary                         Fay Fletcher                         011   894-3807
                                        Archivist/Correspondent           Carole Doig                          011   896-2633
                                        Researcher / Co-Editor            Peter Wood                           011   893-1046
                                        Editor Newsletter/Tour Convener    1
                                                                          Pam Beck                             011   896-3742
                              Boksburg Historical Association 25 September 2005

                                            Notable Boksburg
          BOKSBURG - BENONI HOSPITAL                                              THE SPORTING WORLD




S                                                               I
       adly the city fathers and residents of Boks-                  t was recorded that “An excellent sports day was
                       th
       burg treated 17 August 2005 as just another                   held on Christmas Day 1895”
       day! In the history of Boksburg this should
       have been an auspicious one because 100                          However, from the records it seems that the first
                   th
years ago on 17 August 1905 the Boksburg –                          organised sporting body was the Boksburg Sport-
Benoni Hospital opened its doors with accommoda-                    ing Club, which was described as “a real live institu-
tion for 70 patients. Dr Norman Pern, ably assisted                 tion”. The first sports grounds opened in 1899 and
by Matron Miss G Hackett, ran the hospital.                         were situated behind the Cinderella Deep Married
                                                                    Quarters in what is now Rondebult Road. “It has a
                                                                    grandstand to accommodate a large number of people
                                                                    and race meetings are held every three months”. Bicy-
                                                                    cle events were also staged there. In the early days
                                                                    the sporting activities were conducted in the main
                                                                    on the property of ERPM.

                                                                                           1903
                                                                           Cricket- A cricket match between ERPM
                                                                           and
                                                                           Knights as reported in the East Rand Ex-
                                                                           press – “The ERPM Club continued its victori-
                                                                           ous career by defeating Knights Deep in hollow
                                                                           fashion on Sunday last”
                                                                           A wag wrote about a cricket match between
                                                                           ERPM and Springs (who battled to find
  This is one of the oldest hospitals in the Old                           players): ”’Springs’ would strike most people
Transvaal and to quote Dr Turton, Chairman of the                          as the name of a place where something to
Board in 1955: “Its origins can be attributed to the zeal                  drink could be obtained, but judging from the
and exertion of Captain Pomeroy Colley (Magistrate), Mr                    experience of our team on Sunday, it is a very
Fred Hellman (Consulting Engineer), Messrs Benjamin                        dry place indeed!”
Owen Jones and George Constable and Doctors J Camp-                        Association Football– “League Competition
bell, McNeillie and J S Morton”. Originally it was                         East Rand Express Cup – JAGS v ERPM -The
opened as a joint operation between the state and                          former team narrowly escaped attaining the
the East Rand Proprietary Mines. However, it soon                          height of their ambition – the defeat of the
became necessary to replace some of the old wood                           League top-team. Congratulation to the Jags
and corrugated iron buildings and an expansion                             on making as good a fight with the ERPM as
programme was successfully launched thanks to the                          any team has done this season”
generous donations from the general public and                             Athletics– When Mr Creed presented the
further contributions from ERPM. Over the ensuing                          silver cup to Inspector Cartlidge he said: “It
years the public contributed a fair portion of the                         is a pleasure to think that a gentleman like
hospital maintenance and it was only in 1946 that                          Inspector Cartlidge, who is rather past the age
the Province assumed full control over the Boksburg-                       when men go in for strong athletics, should be
Benoni Hospital.                                                           such a whole hearted sportsman to compete in
                                                                           pedestrian events, and it does not say much for
     When the hospital celebrated its golden Jubilee in 1955               the younger men of Boksburg in that they
Dr William Nicol, Administrator for the Transvaal wrote:
                                                                           should display such a little interest in athletics
“Fifty years ago the Boksburg Hospital opened its doors to
serve the people of the East Rand. Accommodation was avail-                generally!”
able for 70 Patients and this was considered adequate for the              Boxing– “A Boxing entertainment will be held on
extensive area. At that time Benoni and Springs were small                 Wednesday next at the Assembly Hall, Boksburg. …
villages while Brakpan and Nigel were not yet in existence.                It is the intention to give entertainment of the kind at
With the growth of the East Rand the hospital expanded.                    intervals in Boksburg, and the very best talent will be
Hundreds of thousands of patients have found relief for their              secured. Booking at Nobby’s Bar”
sufferings here and many were nursed with tender loving and                Tennis– “Van Rhyn Tennis Club v ERPM Tennis
sympathetic care in their last hours.”                                     Club at the Van Rhyn Courts … ERPM won 6 sets
                                                                            and lost 3 … The visitors declared they had a
                                                                            splendid outing, the Van Rhyn team treating them
                                                                            in right royal fashion!”



                                                                2
                             Boksburg Historical Association 25 September, 2005

                                    The Triumph of the Slaves


O
       ur newest member and author of the “Clash               Augustus recognised the seriousness of the infiltra-
       of the Titans”, Arthur Kemp, was our guest             tion of alien blood into the body politic and intro-
                       nd
       speaker on 2        September. Arthur re-              duced restrictions to manumission of the slaves.
       awakened our minds with his different and              But it was too late for: “ a considerable portion of the
controversial approach to the history of the Roman            talent and working power were lost for ever to the nation
Empire – in fact to our view of all history. He               … and the Roman thus gave away to the Easterners in
introduced his talk with some of the questions he             Italy, while he made a place for himself in the
asked his professors when he was a student over               provinces.” (Duff, Freedman –Early Roman Empire)
twenty odd years ago.
                                                              To summarise Arthur’s talk:
  What happened? Why did it happen? – And - How
did it happen? It is an anomaly that a conquered                  1.      The original Roman people were dissipated
and destroyed Roman Empire was able to rise like a                        by war, foreign service in the military and
Phoenix from the ashes in 387BC but that this great                       emigration to their colonies
Empire was unable to survive a similar destruction                2.      Their place in Rome and the surrounds was
in 410 AD!                                                                taken by wholesale importation of slaves,
                                                                          the majority of whom had come from the
  Travelling back three millennia we learned the popula-                  mixed races in the south-eastern reaches of
tion of the Roman Empire society were proudly Latin/                      the empire
Caucasian and although ruled by the aristocratic elite, the
                                                                  3.      Eventually not even the emperors them-
populous was “practically untouched by revolution and
tyranny”. Over the ensuing centuries the Empire expanded
                                                                          selves were of Roman extraction
its borders by aggressive attacks against neighbouring            4.      As a result, the remaining Roman popula-
countries. As a result of their victorious campaigns they                 tion became increasingly of mixed racial
captured enormous numbers of men, women and chil-                         origin as time progressed
dren, the majority of whom were sent to Rome to be sold           5.      Although the new Roman population had
as slaves. At the same time it was recorded that:                         lived there for a period, they were not the
“Wherever the Roman conquers, there he dwells …” and                      original architects of the buildings, culture
eventually people of “servile extraction” (the majority of                and ideology and for this reason were not
whom were of Middle Eastern and North African origin)
                                                                          able to sustain its greatness
accounted for 90% of Rome’s population
                                                               From the responses and the discussions after-
                                                              wards, Arthur’s talk was well received. Thank you.


                                                                                      THANKS

                                                               I’m sure you will all agree that Claire Nelson-Esch
                                                              did us proud with the outstanding artwork on the
                                                              banner for the Boksburg Historical Association.
                                                              Special thanks, Claire.


                                                                               BIRTHDAY WISHES

                                                                According to the birthday list only two members
                                                              are to celebrate their birthday in October, Tess
                                                              Uren and Connie Nelson-Esch. Many, many happy
                                                              returns of the day to you both.

                                                                                    REMINDER

                                                                We wish to remind our members of the organ recital
                                                              which is to be held in the “Oude Klipkerk” on Saturday
  “Civilizations can and do fall, and the                     29th October 2005 at 9.30am This is a fund raising event
  mightiest of buildings can and do                           for the preservation of the old church and Fienie and Alta
  crumble in a few short centuries”                           Brand will appreciate all your support




                                                              3
                               Boksburg Historical Association 25 September 2005

                                                 Then and Now
           THE OLD BOKSBURG CEMETERY                                                    THE NEXT TOUR

2.00pm Sunday, 18th October - Armed with a cam-                      Date: Saturday 1st Oct return Sunday 2nd Oct
era, clipboards, pens and paper 6 committee mem-                     2005.
bers met outside the Boksburg Cemetery. What were                    Destination:The Groot Marico Publicity Association
we doing there you ask?                                              (Next to the FNB) Main Street, Groot Marico
                                                                     Time: 10.00am
 Earlier this year, when Wynand Deyzel spoke on                      Activities:
geneaology, he told us how much information could                    1. We meet outside the "Old Publicity Bureau" in
be found in cemeteries. With this thought in mind we                 Marico at 10.00am where we will be welcomed with
decided to see what the oldest section in Boksburg                   a glass of traditional Honey Mampoer Liquor
Cemetery would reveal.                                               2. We will have time in the adjoining Art Factory
                                                                     followed by morning tea and muffins etc.
  There was some excitement when we located the                      3. Next on the agenda is a guided nature outing
gravestone of Boksburg’s first mayor, Benjamin Owen                  along the Groot Marico River
Jones. We found the gravesite of the Reverend E R                    4. There is to be a traditional farm lunch accompa-
Davies, who arrived in Boksburg in 1890. He was one                  nied by a reading of one of Herman Charles' famous
of the founder members of the Baptist Union Church.                  stories
Among the weeds and gravel we recorded a few                         5. We will then visit the Eye of the Marico River,
headstones which revealed the names of young men                     which, I understand, is a tributary or the beginning
from Wales, Cornwall, Scotland, who died in some of                  of the Limpopo River
the mining accidents which occured at the turn of last               6. We will see a whip making demonstration on an
century; a couple died as a result of an explosion at                old farm
Kilfoils Hotel in 1907.                                              7. Sample traditional Melktert and Gemmerbier in
                                                                     Ouma se kombuis and view some antique farming
 Some headstones record the names of young Boks-                     and kitchen equipment.
burg men who fought for King and Country in France,                  8. Visit one or two farms to see the process of how
on Flanders Fields and probably at Delville Wood in                  mampoer is made and sample the end product
1917. The grave of Bandmaster Shaul VC is there.                     9. Overnight stay in a B and B
                                                                     10. Sunday - Return to Jhb via Swartruggens - 3-5
 We read some loving messages inscribed to the                       hour guided tour around the Iron Age and Boer War
memory of young children and even to the memory of                   relics with a brunch in the bushveld and then home
a centenarian. Incredibly interesting! - And we only
scraped the surface!                                                 The cost of all this is R450.00 per person

 At about 4.00 and shared our information over a                       (As we generally travel with other members and split
picnic tea under the trees before returning home.                    the petrol costs, I calculated an anticipated cost of
                                                                     petrol and have included this calculation in the price.)
 If we mourned while we were there, it was for all the
souls of yesteryear whose remains lie forgotten in                     The only cost not included is the R45.00 for the
Boksburg Cemetery!                                                   Saturday evening meal which I have subsequently
  Our short 2 hour sortie was an extremely interesting and           booked for the group. Please note that this is not a
important exercise. It is an worthwhile project and high-            licensed establishment but we are welcome to sup-
lights some unknown history of our town. The task is a               ply our own wines etc.
mammoth one in which we, as members of the Boksburg
Historical Association should be involved
                                                                     PROPOSED MEETING DATES FOR 2005/2006
              Gravett se Tarentaal-Koppe!
  The Boksburg Commandos were a fairly dapper group of men           05 Nov 2005             Meeting- Boksburg High School
who, to distinguish them from the other commando units, wore
guinea fowl feathers in their hats. They were referred to as         26 / 27 Nov 2005
“Gravett’s Guinea Fowls”!                                            or 10 Dec 2005          Christmas Function
  Who was General Gravett? How did he rise through the Boer
ranks to become General of the Boksburg Commando? What were          04 Feb 2006             Meeting - Boksburg High School -
his connections with Boksburg?                                                               Taking of Singapore and the After-
                                                                                             math
 If anyone can assist with more information on General Gravett
we would love to hear from you                                       04 Mar 2006             AGM-Boksburg High School




                                                                 4