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Johannesburg’s oldest communications hub in the city

Johannesburg’s oldest communications hub in the city

Johannesburg’s oldest communications hub in the city

7October, 2016

In tracing the heritage of the site upon which The Exchange is founded, one comes face to face with the concept of the oldest communications hub in the Braamfontein/ Vrededorp district.

“The interesting point which needs to be made here is that the Braamfontein Railway station and marshalling yards, the Smit Street Compound, Telkom Site, railway sidings and the Gasworks were all used to divide the poorer sections of the town from the rich central and northern suburbs. The poor whites and the black sectors were effectively fenced off by these major industrial sites. Donald Trump could not have done it better. The role which the new Telkom housing development will play will contribute to breaking the divide in line with the concept behind Corridors of Freedom – it will stitch one patch of the city together. The barrier was one not only of race, but very much of class. The latter has not been given much attention in planning Johannesburg.”

Flo Bird, Johannesburg Heritage Trust, 2016

The buildings which have been converted into residential lofts have an important role to play in the history of the city of Johannesburg. The original small post office building which makes up the Old Exchange complex, was the place where the residents of Vrededorp (or ‘Fietas’ as it was known) would have served as a communications hub in the neighbourhood. It was a place where Joburg dwellers could use the telephone, since there were few, if any, telephones in homes at that stage. In addition, this was the collection place for parcels from family living far away. Other services offered by the little Post Office would be certification of important documents by the Postmaster, who was always a Commissioner of Oaths.

Exchange lofts, the oldest communications hub in Johannesburg

Unfortunately, this charming little structure did not remain the neighbourhood post office for long. It was too small and not sufficiently central. The new suburban office was erected in 11th Street (according to Salma Patel of Fietas Museum), and this was to serve as the new communications hub for the ever-expanding city.

The Exchange development borders on the Braamfontein Cemetery, which also has an interesting and colourful past. The cemetery has the earliest graves bodies of Johannesburg pioneers were exhumed from the original city graveyard in Harrison Street and reburied here – and many founders and famous personalities are laid to rest within the walls of this green haven. Included in the ‘heroes section’ are Enoch Sontonga, Cornelius Broeksma, and struggle heroes Valliamal Munusamy, Nagapen and Chow Kwai For, as well as soldiers who died in the Anglo Boer War. There are even some graves of men who died while serving with the SADF in World Wars I and II. Artists, authors, actors are all buried here, alongside thousands of black mineworkers whose graves have been covered with soil and then grassed to conceal their existence.

In this section it has been recorded that a number of a number of miners who died in accidents on various mines have been laid to rest here. All of these mines have since closed but the graves remain a valuable historic record of those early mines like Village Deep, Main Reef and Crown Deep Mines.
There are a number of tall, beautiful Blue Gum trees bordering the development, planted in the greenbelt between The Exchange and the Enoch Sontonga Cemetery. These provide a ‘green edge’ for the new residential area. They have a special heritage significance in the cemetery as for many funerals of black people wreaths were made from their leaves and placed on the graves along with seeds. Since the graves of black mineworkers were concealed with soil the gum trees remain as markers of the mourners who brought wreaths for the dead.

When Hunger growls…

When Hunger growls…

When Hunger growls…

5October, 2016

When you find yourself in the hip and trendy urban landscape of the Braamfontein area, and hunger pangs threaten to consume you, here’s a quick look at the urban eating places available to starve off those hunger pangs in and around the Exchange Loft development.

Elevate Roof Top Bar
16th Floor, Reef Hotel, 58 Anderson Street, Marshalltown, Inner City Johannesburg
Situated in the heart of the urban banking district, and on the top floor of one of Jozi’s thirty tallest skyscrapers, this venue offers a 360 degree view of the city of Gold. A mere 4,6km from The Exchange Urban lofts, this unique space is a great way to unwind, catch up with some mates or just enjoy a long cold glass of relaxation after a stressful week in the big city.
This venue can also be booked for private functions and launches.

Darkie Cafe
10 Anderson Street, Marshalltown
A slick, happening cafe generously populated by the young and trendy, owner Charlotte Malokisi’s creation is the place to see and be seen in Joburg’s CBD. On offer is traditional South African cuisine with a twist, like Soweto chicken with margo and mogudu, as well as timeless classics like oxtail, lamb shanks and prawns in a tangy lemon curry.

Hip and trendy Urban eating places in the neighbourhood of the Exchange Loft development

At 44 Stanley Shopping Precinct, you are spoilt for good food choices – try Salvation Cafe – a down-to-earth cafe that preaches the soul of good food that is fresh and honest. The menu is a self-proclaimed ‘odyssey of flavours’, inspired by the travels of owner/chef Claudia Giannoccaro. She sailed around the globe on luxury private yachts being creative with local ingredients wherever the wind took her. Claudia says that simple and tasty food is her passion.

Vovo Telo, (also at 44 Stanley) offers delicious freshly baked bread, pounded out by the ever-present bakers, which are a staple throughout the excellent cafe menu. The trademark light and airy interiors at Vovo Telo are always welcoming and attract a diverse crowd of urban dwellers.

Other notable eateries are the Italian restaurant Il Giardino for relaxed, yet nourishing Sunday lunches, or the craft beer garden Stanley Beer Yard.