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History on Germiston

History on Germiston

Germiston

Germiston is a city in the East Rand of Gauteng in South Africa.  Germiston is now the seat of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality which includes much of the East Rand.

History

It was established in the early days of the gold rush when two prospectors, John Jack from the farm of Germiston near Glasgow and August Simmer from Vacha in Germany, struck paydirt on the farm of Elandsfontein.  Both men made fortunes and the town sprang up next to the mine.  In 1921 the world’s largest gold refinery, the Rand Refinery, was established at Germiston.  Seventy percent of the Western World’s gold passes through this refinery.

The WesBank Raceway motorsports facility was located in the city, but it was sold to industrial estate developers in November 2007.  Germiston Stadium (formerly the Herman Immelman Statdium), home stadium of Moroka Swallows FC is also located in the city.

Architecture

The city has a number of historic buildings.  Among these are the St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church which was built in 1905, and St Boniface’s Church designed by Sir Herbert Baker, which was built in 1910 (this is the second church on the site, as the Anglican Parish was founded in 1897).  The church also houses the historic 1910 English Romantic Norman and Beard Organ.

The Alexander Hotel was also partly designed by Baker, using his traditional stone appearance, although this building has been allowed to decay over the last twenty years, with the stonework having been painted over.

Education

There are a number of schools in the city, including the Dominican St Catherine’s Convent, which was founded in the city centre in 1908, and then relocated to the suburbs of Parkhill Gardens in the 1940s to the late 1960s it was divided into separate Boys and Girls High Schools, with the boys staying at Victoria Lake, and the girls moving to Fourth Avenue in Lambton.  Due to the need to relocate the Afrikaans Delville Primary School, the Girls were moved back to combine with the boys in the original historic buildings.  Famous past pupils include Dr Sydney Brenner, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize.

Transport

Victoria Lake is better known today simply as Germiston Lake, however, the famous Sailing and Rowing Club retains the name of the Victoria Lake Club.  The club is home to some of the best canoeists and rowing crews in the country, including the sixteen time South African School Champions, St Benedict’s College.  The lake is very popular at weekends for water skiing and regattas.

Germiston is also the location of Rand Airport, at one time one of the busiest in Africa, and indeed the Southern Hemisphere.  Today it caters largely for light aircraft and flying schools, but is also home to the South African Airways Museum.  As a result of this, two of the earlier Boeing 747 Jumbo Aircraft acquired by SAA now reside there on permanent display.

Notable people

Notable people to come from Germiston include: Dr Sydney Brenner, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine; Ted Grant, Trotskyist politician and theorist; Tom Warder), popular musician, Olympic class swimmer, (unfortunately prevented from participating in the Olympics by the outbreak of WW2), inventor of the gyroscope brake for aircraft, and, among other things, of an indicator in which sick children could be conveyed by air to South Africa for treatment by Christiaan Barnard; Helen Suzman, anti-apartheid activist and politician; Trevour Benman, an American sportscaster and public-address announcer specializing in thoroughbred horse racing, and Mari Warder, novelist, founder of the Canadian Heamochromatosis Society, the Haemochromatosis Society of Souther Africa, (HSSA) as well as the International Association of Heam.Societies.  For the first time in local history, Germiston reached the stage of being complimented on making its mark as a literary centre when, at the time of the novel’s release in Afrikaans, the book critic of the Southern African Broadcasting Company, Louise Behrens (SABC book critic) selected April in Portugal by Marie Warder for review.  Warder’s success is of special interest to this city as it was there, under the editorship of William Hills, that she took her first step into journalism.  Amalgamated Press (SA) Ltd.

The deputy mayor of Germiston in 1956 was David Cargill Stewart who also owned Wizard Dry Cleaners in Wizard Street.  David, or “Jock” as he was known, originated from Arbroath, Scotland, and worked on Simmer and Jack mines for many years.  There is a park in Wychwood, called “Stewart Park” which was named after him.

Sportsmen from Germiston include Andre Nel (South African cricket fast bowler); Andre Watson, Rugby referee; Pierre Issa, Bafana Bafana defender; and Albert Johanneson, professional footballer and first black player to play in the FA Cup.

 

 

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