Hospital Hill (Old Suburb between Braamfontein & Hillbrow)

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Hospital Hill was a popular name for the eastern part of the March 1888 surveyed part of the township Johannesburg. It included the land on the hill where the first general hospital was built (the land granted by the government), Joubert Park and northerly surrounds, Kruger Park (which became the Wanderer’s Sports Club) and parts of the old railway station. Today it sits anonymously between Braamfontein and Hillbrow except for the fact that it houses a high percentage of medical and government-related buildings that form a wide strip from the bottom of Smit Street right up to the old Fort to the north and over the hill down to the edge of Parktown.

JHB view Hospital Hill & Hillbrow 1888

Hospital Hill would be above Wanderers on the hill in the distance (Source: JHB 100 Years)

Johannesburg’s first and temporary hospital was a three-roomed brick and thatch building  (possibly) in Commissioner Street that also doubled as the goal. It opened in early November 1886. The first patient was miner Thomas Gray who most likely had typhoid. He died on the 4th November. The second death was Charles Johnson who fell down No.2 reef in Doornfontein in December 1886. Interestingly, it was only in January 1887 that 12 stands were set aside in the area bounded by Harrison, Diagonal, Bree and De Villiers street for a small cemetery. It is not known where these men were buried. Read more on the history of cemeteries from an earlier post HERE.

In April 1887 a two-room galvanised structure was purchased to serve as a dedicated hospital situated next to the goal which appears to have been demolished in January 1888 according to a sketch by Ida Stone dated 11 January.

Sketch go the first hospital being demolished

Sketch of the first hospital being demolished

Temporary hospital from 1888

Temporary hospital from 1888

It was not until October 1888 that the government agreed to funds and land for the erection of Johannesburg’s first proper hospital. The foundation stone was laid on 29 March 1889 by General N.J. Smit (Vice-President of the Transvaal Republic) and it was finally opened on 5 November 1890 by J. M. A. Wolmarans.

The first general hospital in Johannesburg

The first general hospital in Johannesburg

The first chairman of the hospital board was John Carr. Both men have streets named after them.  Carr was a Roman Catholic and persuaded the Holy Family Sisters to staff the hospital which they did until 1915 under Reverend Mother Adele.  The sisters continued to serve the public on a smaller scale at the Kensington Sanatorium.

Interior early 1900s

Interior early 1900s

The hospital was ‘lofty with handsome fireplaces’  and had 130 beds, an operating room, and surgical equipment. In 1893 the eastern wing was added and in 1897/8 the Barney Barnato block was completed. The operating theatre also dates to 1897 and was designed by Granger & Fleming.

Operating theatre from 1902

Operating theatre from 1902

Hospital wards early 1900s

Hospital wards in the early 1900s

Barney Barnato Ward

Barney Barnato Ward (Source: Johannesburg Style)

Barney Barnato Ward

Barney Barnato Ward  (Source: WITS Architectural archive)

In 1904, the foundation stone was laid by Princess Christian for the Stroyan Ward designed by G St John Cottrill as well as plans prepared for the outpatients and pathological departments, the superintendent’s house, laundry, and the powerhouse.

In 1908, around a third of the hospital’s patients were African and coloured. Patients were charged by their ability to pay and the hospital served both the wealthy and destitute. Even then, medical schemes by the mines and government subsidised the bills.

Jihannesburg hopsital staff c1908

Hospital staff c1908 (Source: Connaught visit)

The superintendent’s house is in danger of falling down. It’s been in a state of disrepair for a number of years. It dates to 1905 and was designed by W. H. Stucke. There have been reports of a possible renovation as of 2015. It’s the last of at least three old houses on Hospital Hill but certainly one of the most interesting from a design and architectural standpoint.

Superintendent's house from 2012

Superintendent’s house from 2012 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Back of the house from 2015

Back of the house from 2015 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Back of the house 2017 (Source: Gwyn Thomas)

A chapel, designed by Gordon Leith, was built on the hospital grounds in 1949.

Old stone chapel (Source: Gwyn Thomas)

East and West pavilions with operating theatre and combined bed accommodation for 109 beds opened in 1913. Both pavilions were designed by W. H. Stucke.  In 1915, medical staff quarters, dispensary and central kitchen with provision for a kosher kitchen opened. A three-story building, named after Julius Jeppe, to accommodate a further 111 patients was completed in 1919 and designed by the PWD.

Ward 1

East Pavilion (Source: Marc Latilla)

Ward 2

West Pavilion (Source: Marc Latilla)

Pavilion with the main block (Source: Gwyn Thomas)

In 1921, a non-European hospital (a branch of Johannesburg Hospital opened in 1925 and still standing) was erected across the road on the site of three old houses that were used for nurses training. It provided for 506 patients who paid for care based on income. The three-story building on the right in both pictures below was the old police barracks and was used for overflow patients.

Non-European Hospital in the 1960s

Non-European Hospital in the 1960s

Non-European Hospital in 2015 is used as the government mortuary and pathological services

Non-European Hospital in 2015 is used as the government mortuary and pathological services (Source: Marc Latilla)

In 1924 large extensions to the nurse home were completed as well as ten clinical side rooms for student training.

Old building still standing in the hospital complex

Old building still standing in the hospital complex – possible training building (Source: Marc Latilla)

More hospital buildings on Klein Street

Old nurses home on Klein Street (Source: Marc Latilla)

Nurses home Klein Street

Nurses home on Klein Street c1908 (Source: Connaught visit)

In 1933, prior to the new Hospital, there were 1107 beds available in Johannesburg:

General Hospital – 511 Beds

Queen Victoria – 38 Beds (still in Doornfontein)

TVL Memorial Children’s Hospital – 133 Beds

Otto Beit Convalescent Home – 52 Beds

Non-European Hospital – 293 Beds

Fever Hospital – 80 Beds

The old hospital building from 1890 was demolished in 1937 to make way for the current Ronald Mackenzie Block which was completed in 1939 and designed by Gordon Leith.

First Johannesburg General Hospital

First Johannesburg General Hospital c1935 prior to demolition (Source: The Golden City)

Ronald Mackenzie block

Ronald Mckenzie block plan with pavilions (Source: The Golden City)

This was one of three Leith designed hospital buildings, the other two being the Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital (Braamfontein 1943) and the Chamber of Mines Hospital (Cottesloe 1937-9). All three were influenced by the ‘Steamboat Style’ inspired by the massive ocean-liners of the time. Van Der Waal described Leith’s design of these buildings as ‘streamlined effect…by rounding the corners, by giving the buildings a machined finish (smoothness), stacking the building forms and using parallel lines. In the General Hospital Leith used the Steamboat Style in the salient half-round balconies in the upper central section of the block like building.’

Today, the old hospital complex still survives but was superseded in the 1970s by the Johannesburg General Hospital (now known as the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital) which went up on Parktown ridge. The site on the ridge was once the home of Sir Lionel Phillips known as Hohenheim and was the first house built in Parktown in 1894. The house was donated to the hospital administration and converted onto the Otto Beit Convalescent Home in 1915.

Hohenheim Parktown

Hohenheim in Parktown (Source: Museum Africa)

Otto Beit convalescent Home

Otto Beit convalescent Home (formerly Hohenheim) c1970 (Source: Helen Aron)

Parktown E. P. Baumann convalescent home

E. P. Baumann convalescent home in Parktown (Source: TMH 50th Anniversary Gold Book)

Also on the ridge on the grounds of Otto Beit, the E. P. Baumann Convalescent Home for Babies was built in 1938. This building also made way for the new hospital.

Joburg Gen 1980s

The Joburg Gen on Parktown ridge C1980 (Source: JHB Hospital opening Commemorative book)

An interesting aside regarding the 1890 hospital’s original foundation stone: When the old building was demolished, a cavity was found under the foundation stone. In this cavity was meant to be a bottle containing coins and newspapers from the time. It turns out that the bottle was actually stolen shortly after the stone was laid as per board minutes from 10 July 1889. The coins were worth less than 2 Pounds and despite a 25 Pound reward, the items were never recovered.

Main Hospital block

Main Hospital block designed by Gordon Leith 1939

Back of the main block as seen form the fort 2011

Back of the main block as seen from the fort 2011 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Old JHB general hospital

Close-up of main block 2017 (Source: Gwyn Thomas)

old JHB General hospital

In a state (Source: Gwyn Thomas)

The only remnant of the original hospital - outgoing patients section

The only remnant of the original hospital – outgoing patients section (Source: Marc Latilla)

Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital was a branch hospital originally administered by the Johannesburg Hospital from 1913 onwards. The first Queen Vic was established in rented accommodation (that could hold 50 patients) by the Guild of Loyal Woman. The building was designed by Allen Wilson and built in 1904 in Doornfontein in Siemert Road next to the Lions Shul.

Siemert Road showing the Lions Shul and the Queen Victoria (with balcony) next to it

Siemert Road showing the Lions Shul and Queen Victoria (with balcony) next to it (Source: A Johannesburg Album)

First Queen Victoria maternity home Siemert Road front 1906

The first Queen Victoria maternity home Siemert Road front c1906 (Source: TVL memorial hospital archives)

The Queen Vic was then transferred to Sam Hancock Street, Milner Park (what the area was known as back then) to a new built for purpose building that was completed in 1907.

First Queen Victoria Maternity Home Siemert Road back 1906

Second Queen Victoria Maternity Home from the back 1907 (Source: TVL Memorial hospital archives)

In 1943 it moved to its new premises on the same site (designed by Gordon Leith) which still stands at the bottom of Joubert Street extension and corner Sam Hancock Street at the bottom left of the Fort complex. This is the Queen Vic most people remember. There is a strong similarity between Leith’s work on the main block at Johannesburg Hospital and the design of the Maternity Hospital and the Chamber of Mines hospital in Cottesloe.

Queen Victoria Hospital in the 1960s

The third Queen Victoria Hospital in the 1960s

Full length front view of the building

Full-length front view of the building (Source: From Mining Camp to Metropolis)

Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital from the back 2015

Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital from the back 2015 (Source: Marc Latilla)

As of November 2015, there was a tender out for repurposing and renovating the building (which is currently empty). The nurse’s homes appear to have been demolished and are now part of Constitution Hill. According to Artefacts, the nurse home was built in 1932 and the nurses quarters in 1938 and were both designed by Leith.

Requests for Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital birth records can be made HERE 

TMH c1923

Transvaal Memorial Children’s Hospital c1923 (Source: TMH 50th Anniversary Gold Book)

TMH c2019

Main building c2019 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Across the road from the second Queen Victoria is the Transvaal Memorial Hospital for Children which was opened on 23 October 1923 by H.R.H Prince Arthur of Connaught. The project was started in 1919 by the Johannesburg Branch of the National Council of Woman as a memorial to those killed in WW1. Prior to the TMI, children’s beds were allocated to Ward 26 at the first General Hospital on Hospital Hill.

TMH cornerstone c2019

Cornerstone c2019 (Source: Marc Latilla)

The Johannesburg Municipality gave 12500 Pounds and 8 acres of land for the hospital. The balance came from mining houses, charitable organisation, and the public. Near the completion of the building, it was realised that there was no money for equipment. A bequest from Mrs. Louisa Beck who died in the UK in May 1923 saved the day.

The hospital was handed over to the Provincial Administration at the opening ceremony. It consisted of a Memorial Hall on the ground floor, six wards with a 112-bed capacity, two operating theatres, radiology and physiotherapy departments as well as a nurses home. The buildings were all designed by Cowin, Ellis & Powers. Dr. E.P. Baumann, who developed pediatrics in Johannesburg as a study and a service in its own right, led the medical team.

TMH nurses residence

TMH nurses residence c2019 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Children’s mortuaries for both Jewish and Christian denominations were built. The Christian mortuary is part of the original plans but the Jewish mortuary and Christian Chapel plan and build dates are not known. They are currently housed in a single structure that includes a chapel, although the Jewish section is separate.

TMH childrens Jewish mortuary

Jewish mortuary c2019 (Source: Marc Latilla)

In 1926, the Ross-Rotary Ward opened. The ward opened onto a solarium which was beneficial to patients suffering from Perthes’ Disease and TB.

Ross Rotary solarium c1925

Ross Rotary solarium c1925 (Source: TMH 50th Anniversary Gold Book)

E. P. Baumann Convalescent home for 26 babies under 2-years-old opened on 1 May 1938. This was a Leith designed building on the grounds of the Otto Beit Convalescent Home on Parktown ridge.

Parktown E. P. Baumann convalescent home

E. P. Baumann convalescent home in Parktown (Source: TMH 50th Anniversary Gold Book)

In 1941 a 90-bed ward block was completed.

TMH 1941 block

TMH 1941 Block (Source: TMH 50th Anniversary Gold Book)

In May 1965, the new building was opened for Outpatients, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, a Central Sterilizing Department, a laboratory and a Child and Family Unit.

TMH 1965 wing

TMH 1965 wing (Source: TMH 50th Anniversary Gold book)

In 1978-9 the Children’s Hospital was incorporated into the new Johannesburg Hospital in Parktown. The buildings were left vacant for a while as new uses were developed.

The Children’s Memorial Institute is currently home to approximately 30 organisations, most of which are NGOs but are all non-profit. These organisations provide a multitude of services to children with special needs and disabilities, mainly in the educational, medical, social, psychological and legal sectors.

TVL memorial hospital old and new

Old and the new c2019 (Source: Marc Latilla)

The Johannesburg Fever Hospital for infectious patients was opened in 1916. Cases were sent by the Public Health Department and admission was compulsory where isolation at home was not possible. It could accommodate 80 patients. Parts of this hospital still stand just behind the Civic Centre on Hoofd Street just across the road from the old Woman’s Prison.  They were designed by PWD under J. S. Cleland.

Fever hospital early 1900s

Fever hospital early 1900s

Fever hospital form 2015

Fever hospital from 2015 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Surviving building from the Fever Hospital 2015

Surviving building from the Fever Hospital 2015 (Source: Marc Latilla)

South African Institute for Medical Research (S.A.I.M.R), one of the world’s pioneer medical research organisations, was founded in 1912. The Union Government in 1912 contributed the money and the state donated the land adjacent to the general hospital at the eastern end of Jorrisen Street which was previously used as a military parade ground connected the fort. On 23 April 1913, the two foundation stones were laid for the building which was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

SAIMR under construction

SAIMR under construction

The director’s house was also designed by Baker and completed around the same time. The building was completed in 1914. Further work was done in the 1930s when the roof was raised.

Aerial view of the SAIMR building 1980s

Aerial view of the SAIMR building 1980s (Source: Johannesburg-A Hundred Years)

Some of the institute’s early groundbreaking work was on pneumonia and malaria. Before this, the government laboratory was a wood and iron building on the corner of De Korte and Hospital Street.

Across the road on the corner of De Korte and Hospital Street is the building that housed the old Lady Dudley Nursing Home. The Lady Dudley appears to have been around since the mid-1920s based on various death notices picked up on genealogical sites and may have also been housed in a different location or a different building on the current site. The current building is probably late 1930s and was refurbished in 1989. It was initially exclusively a nursing home but was also known as Lady Dudley Hospital after the 1960s. From accounts, it certainly took care of other medical procedures and emergencies. The building has been converted into student accommodation and probably ceased to be a medical building in the early 2000s with the general decline of the area.

From comparing the photos below, the original balconies were later enclosed and another floor added to the existing rooftop.

Lady Dudley Nursing Home

Lady Dudley Nursing Home from SAIMR gardens (Source: Seventy Golden Years)

Lady Dudley

Lady Dudley 2017 (Source: Google Earth)

Other medical and government buildings:

Buildings across the road from the fort

Old police barracks across the road from the fort 2015 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Building across the road from the Civic

Forensic Chemistry Laboratory across the road from the Civic 2015 (Source: Marc Latilla)

According to Ildi Fenyvesi, the “building across the road from the Civic Centre” is the Forensic Chemistry Laboratory of JHB (a unit of the NDOH). It was a laboratory providing a forensic chemical testing service for clients such as the SAPS and pathologists.

Building between SAIMR and new morgue

The original Medical School building between SAIMR and new morgue 2015. (Source: Marc Latilla)

This was the original medical school dating to 1919-20 and designed by A & W Reid & Delbridge in the Traditional Style after the model of the Italian Palazzo before the one in Esselen Street was built. Part of the 1894 wall that surrounded the police parade ground still stands outside the old school buildings.

Part of the 1890s wall that surrounded the parade ground

Part of the 1894 wall that surrounded the original police parade ground (Source: Marc Latilla)

Esselen Street Clinic

Esselen Street Clinic (Source: Ntsika Architects)

The former Colin Gordon Nursing Home in Esselen Street was designed by Wilhelm Bernhard Pabst in 1941 and completed in 1943. The building was re-opened in 2017 as the Esselen Street Clinic with restoration work done by Ntsika Architects and is a national monument.

Esselen Street residence

Esselen Street residence (Source: Google Earth)

Medical Society Building

Medical Society Building (Source: Google Earth)

Also in Esselen Street next to the residence is the Furner designed 1930s Medical Society Building.

Former Princess Nursing Home Hillbrow

Former Princess Nursing Home (Source: Google Earth)

Also in Esselen Street on the opposite side of Hillbrow near the Berea border is the former Princess Maternity/Nursing Home. It was built in 1947 and designed by Stegmann, Orpen & Porter. Since 2005, it has been the Tswelopele Frail Care Centre. Prior to that, it was the Emseni Chronic Care Unit which was part of Rhema Service Foundation. The date when the Princess closed is not known.

Work on building a new and much-needed goal (jail) started on the top of Hospital Hill in 1892.

Old goal before the wall were built

Old gaol before the ramparts were built (Source: A Very Smart Medal)

Goal plans from 1893

Gaol plans from 1893

In April 1895 work started to construct the high walls or ramparts around the goal. The Fort was used to command Johannesburg during the Boer war (1899-1902).

Old fort from early 1900s

Old fort from the early 1900s (Source: a Johannesburg Album)

Front of the fort 2015

Front of the fort 2015 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Inside of the fort early 1900s

Inside the fort early 1900s underneath the coat-of-arms of the South African Republic

In 1908 it was proposed that the fort be demolished to allow easier access to the northern suburbs and a new goal built in Vrededorp. This scheme was declined due to the depression at the time. It was a working prison up to 1987 (except during the Boer war) and throughout its history has imprisoned Boer generals, strike miners, Indian passive resisters (including Gandhi), treason trialists (including Nelson Mandela) and various apartheid resistance fighters alongside common criminals. It’s remembered as a particularly harsh prison. The fort was declared a national monument in 1964. In its early days before high-rise buildings, it was a commanding site and had clear views across Johannesburg.

Inside of the fort 2011

Inside the fort 2011 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Inside the fort 2011

Inside the fort 2011 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Inside the fort 2011

Inside the fort 2011 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Inside the fort 2011

Inside the fort 2011 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Johannesburg’s first gaol (before the fort) was completed at the end of October 1886 and was one of JHBs pioneering buildings. It officially opened in November and was a three-room brick and thatch structure (possibly in Commissioner Street) built by Col. Ignatius Ferreira who was the veldkornet in charge of law and order in early Jo’burg and after whom Ferreirasdorp is named. It was viewed as a temporary solution and long-term prisoners were transferred to Pretoria. It was said that prisoners were more comfortable in the new goal than the commissioner in his galvanised structure.

Importantly, the gaol also served as the first hospital and the jailer, Barend Bruyn, looked after both prisoners and patients.

Next to the old fort is the woman’s prison which was built in 1923. This Victorian-inspired jail held the infamous murderess Daisy De Melker as well as resistance stalwarts Winnie Mandela and Albertina Sisulu. In the mid-1980s it was being used as HQ for the now-defunct Parks police and for the Traffic police. It’s now a woman’s centre, exhibition space and museum part of Constitution Hill.

Woman's Prison entrance 2015

Woman’s Prison entrance 2015 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Brick detailing around the windows

Brick detailing around the windows (Source: Marc Latilla)

Space for a plaque or sign above the main entrance

Space for a plaque or sign above the main entrance (Source: Marc Latilla)

Inside the main entrance

Inside the main entrance (Source: Marc Latilla)

Just below it, divided by a service road, where a parking lot for Constitution Hill now stands, used to be the old government mortuary which was commissioned by President Paul Kruger. It was built in 1896 by the Department of Public Works who was responsible for many of the government building at the time and was known as ‘Lykehuis te Johannesburg’.

This purely an assumption on my part as there was also a mortuary in the Hospital Hill complex built after 1902. The actual site of the 1896 mortuary is still to be confirmed.

Plans for the original mortuary

Plans for the original mortuary

It was completed around the time the walls around the old fort were being built, but it remained outside of the fortress but was part of the jail complex. It was a simple structure built to hold the dead until cremation or burial.

It appears that the original 1896 building was demolished and replaced by a more modern building. If I were to guess, I would say the mortuary was rebuilt sometime in the 1940s or 1950s as it seems to compliment the maternity home just further down in the same block. The three-story block of flats behind the premises was a simple late art deco inspired building made up mostly of yellow-orange bricks that seem to define government buildings and police stations from that era.

Outside of the modern mortuary sometime before being demolished

Outside of the modern mortuary sometime before being demolished (Source: Artslink)

Constitution Hill parking replaced the mortuary

Constitution Hill parking replaced the mortuary (Source: Marc Latilla)

I spent a short time there while growing up and lived in flats at the back of the premises for a few months in 1987 and remember the layout vividly. There was also some curvature on the balconies of the flats reminiscent of Leith’s work on other medical buildings in the area.

Below is a section of the old mortuary from an aerial picture from the late 1960s. Note the empty space in the top right where the Civic Centre should be.

Fort and part of the mortuary on the right

Fort in the middle and part of the mortuary (middle right) below the woman’s prison (Source: Museum Africa)

After 1994 it was unable to cope with constraints of the new society and was moved to the old non-European hospital around the corner. It was eventually demolished in 2003 and not incorporated into the museum and constitution Hill.

Beyond the eastern rampart, across Queen’s Road, is the Governor’s House and the Hillbrow Recreation Centre, previously the officers’ mess or club. It is probably 100 years old, estimated to have been built in 1908, according to a report by heritage consultant Herbert Prins.

Recreation Centre in 2015

Recreation Centre (old officer’s mess) in 2015 (Source: Marc Latilla)

The Governor’s house dating back to 1905 is a single-story house with a long front veranda, iron roof and three well-established palm trees in its front garden. The house originally consisted of three lounges, a passage lobby, dining room, five bedrooms, two fireplaces and bay windows. Special features include a trough built into the west wall of one of the lounges, hipped ceilings, timber slatted ceilings and an attractive skylight in the hall. Sash windows have been replaced by metal ones. It was recently restored after years of neglect and fire damage. Originally the land and house were part of the Fort grounds.

Old fort governers house from 2014

Governor’s house from 2014 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Balcony of the Governor's house

The balcony of the Governor’s house 2016 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Closer view of the exterior

Closer view of the exterior 2016 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Across the road from the Governor’s house is the Florence Nightingale Nursing home. It was designed by H. Battiscombe and built in 1937 and appears to have closed down in the 1980s and turned into a block of flats. It was recently the subject of a photojournalism piece on ‘hi-jacked’ buildings in Johannesburg – not one of Hillbrow’s success stories.

Florence Nightingale Hospital 2016 taken from the Governor's house

Florence Nightingale nursing home 2016 taken from the Governor’s house (Source: Marc Latilla)

Florence Nightingale Hospital 2015

Florence Nightingale Hospital (eastern side) from 2015 (Source: Marc Latilla)

The Athenaeum Club opened on the corner of Klein and Wolmarans Street in February 1904. It was described as ‘delightfully situated on Hospital Hill just far enough from the town to escape its disagreeables yet not too far to exclude its conveniences.’ Members were drawn from public & military schools or colleges, British universities, and the Transvaal Civil Service. Note the hitching posts on the pavement. It closed in 1913 having never been as popular as it’s London namesake. The club was demolished in the 1950s and was replaced by a building for the telephone department – possibly a telephone exchange building. This was again demolished and a new exchange in black marble with a clock tower went up in the early 1980s. According to Clive Chipkin, the building (1983-1990) is the work of Gallagher Aspoas Poplak Senior. The building still stands although I suspect, not in use.


Athenaeum Club shortly after completion

View of the club looking west down Wolmarans Street

View of the club looking west down Wolmarans Street early 1900s (Source: A Johannesburg Album)

A recently lost relic of early Johannesburg was the hitching posts which stood outside the club. Two of them were still standing on the pavement inWolamrans Street in 2015, but have since been removed or recycled.

Hitching rails

Club showing hitching rails (Source: Seventy Golden Years)

Hitching rail c1950

Hitching rail c1950 (Source: Seventy Golden Years)

Hitching rail plaque

Hitching rail plaque c1950 (Source: Seventy Golden Years)

Hitching rail Wolmarans Street

Hitching rail Wolmarans Street (Source: Google Earth)

Hitching rail Wolmarans Street

2nd hitching rail Wolmarans Street (Source: Google Earth)

Finally, Hospital Hill also refers to a geological series of shale known as the ‘Hospital Hill Series’.

Below is a list of various hospitals, nursing and maternity homes compiled from two Holmden’s maps between 1940 and 1970. It’s not exhaustive and not limited to Hospital Hill, but will no doubt assist with placing some of the establishments. Some questions in the comments section will be answered by the list.

Name No. Street 1 Street 2 Suburb
Aberford Convalescent Home ~ 8th Street Parkmore
Abraham Kriel Kinderhuis ~ Du Toit Str Paarlshoop
Alexandra Convalescent Home (Queen) cnr 8th Ave 16th Str Orange Grove
Baragwanath Non-European Hospital ~ Baragwanath
Baragwanath Non-European Hospital ~ Oudtshoorn Str Coronationville
Coronation Hospital ~ Oudtshoorn Str Coronationville
Barrymore Maternity Home 71 Pandora Rd Kensington
Braemar Maternity Home ~ Caroline Str Hillbrow
Brenthurst Clinic 4 Park Lane Parktown
Bridgman Memorial Hospital (Non-European) cnr High Str Bellona Rd Brixton
Chamber of Mines Hospital ~ Bunting Rd Cottesloe
Charles Hurwitz Centre T. B. Hospital ~ Baragwanath
Charlotte Collins Sanatorium 450 Main Str Jeppestown
Coniston Convalescent Home 60 Mons Rd Bellevue
Conlea Maternity Home 28 Johannes St Troyeville
Coronation Coloured Hospital ~ Otto St Kliptowm
Coronation Coloured Hospital ~ Lenasia
Coronation Dental Infirmary 81 Von Brandis Str City
Dental Hospital ~ Milner Park
Dundee Nursing home 25 Terrace Rd Bertrams
Edenvale Hospital ~ Edenvale
Edith Cavell Nursing Home 27 Olivia Rd Berea
Empress Convalescent Home 24 Empress St Kensington
E. P. Baumann Convalescent Home for Babies ~ Queens Rd Parktown
Esselen Nursing home cnr King George Str Esselen Str Hospital Hill
Fever Hospital cnr Hoofd Str Joubert Str EXT Braamfontein
Florence Nightingale Maternity Hospital cnr Kotze Str King George Str Hospital Hill
Frangwen Maternity Home 37 Caroline Str Hillbrow
Garden City Clinic ~ Bartlett Str Mayfair West
Gardens Nursing Home ~ Modderfontein Rd Sandringham
Gerald Fitzpatrick Nursing Home ~ Berea Rd Bertrams
Gospel Mission Home (Non-European Maternity Hospital) 37 Frere Rd Bertrams
Hamlet School for Retarded Children 27 Ridge Road Parktown
Happy Autumn Nursing Home 48 Harrow Rd Berea
Harley Nursing Home 15 Bezhuidenhout Str Bez Valley
Hellenic Old Age Home 102 2nd Str Orange Grove
Homestead Nursing Home ~ 9th Rd Kew
Hope Convalescent Home for Children ~ Pallinghurst Rd Westcliff
Hospital Hill Nursing Home 24 Van Der Merwe Str Hillbrow
J. G. Strydom Hospital (now Helen Joseph) ~ Perth Rd Westdene
J. M. E. A. Sick Benefit Society Nursing Home 119 Ascot Rd Bertrams
Jabula House ~ 10th Ave Rivonia
Johannesburg General Hospital (old) ~ Smit Str Hospital Hill
Kenilworth Maternity Home 264 Turf Club Str Kenilworth
Kenridge Hospital (now Donald Gordon 21 Eton Rd Parktown
Kensington Clinic 23 Roberts Ave Kensington
Lady Dudley Nursing Home 15 Hospital Str Hospital Hill
Libertas Nursing Home 31 Van Der Merwe Str Hillbrow
Lisnot Nursing Home ~ Jeppe Str Jenner Chambers City
Mary Mount Maternity Home 54 Albermarle Str Kensington
McIver Nursing Home 14 Grove Rd Gardens
Milpark Hospital ~ Guild Rd Parktown
Mines Benefit Society Hospital 22-28 Koch Str Hospital Hill
Joubert Park Private Hospital 22-28 Koch Str Hospital Hill
Nerve Clinic 15 Bezhuidenhout Ave Bez Valley
Nokuphila Hospital (Non-European) ~ ~ Western Native Township
Non-European Hospital ~ Hospital Str Hospital Hill
Norman Nursing Home 103 Davies Str Doornfontein
Northfields Sanatoria ~ Modderfontein Rd Sandringham
Otto Beit Convalescent Home ~ Queens Rd Parktown
Our Parents Home 11 Spring Rd High Rd Gardens
Oxford Maternity Home 113 Komatie Rd Emmarentia
Park Lane Clinic 14 Junction Ave Parktown
Park Nursing Home 36 Escombe Ave Parktown
Pearce Nursing Home cnr Berg Str Marshall Str Jeppestown
Princess Alice Nursing Home ~ Ray Str Sophiatown/Triomf
Princess Nursing Home 69 Esselen Str Hillbrow
Provincial Tuberculosis Hospital ~ Rietfontein
Queen Alexandra Home cnr 16th Str 8th Ave Orange Grove
Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital cnr Sam Hancock Str Joubert Str EXT Braamfontein
Radiant Health Home 10 Rambler Rd Kensington
Clarendon Maternity Home 31 Bruce Str Hillbrow
Rand Clinic 31 Bruce Str Hillbrow
Rietfontein Tuberculosis Hospital ~ Rietfontein
Rietfontein Chronic Sick home ~ Rietfontein
Rosebank Clinic ~ Sturdee Ave Rosebank
Rosettenville Maternity Home 184 Albert Str Rosettenville
Rusoord Hospital ~ Modderfontein Rd Sandringham
Saalem Convalescent Rest Home ~ 5th Str Wynberg
Salvation Army Nursing Home 22 Sharp Str Bellevue East
Sandton Clinic cnr Peter Place H. F. Verwoerd Drive Lyme Park
Serenity Nursing Home ~ Princess Str Windsor
South Rand Hospital cnr Friars Hill Klipriviersberg Rd The Hill
Southern Nursing Home 140 Albert Str Rosettenville
Springkell Sanatorium ~ Modderfontein
St. John’s Opthalmic Hospital ~ Baragwanath
Tara Hospital ~ Saxon Rd Hurlingham
Transvaal Memorial Hospital for Children ~ Joubert Str EXT Braamfontein
Turf Club Nursing & Maternity Home 250 Turf Club Str Turffontein
Waterval Hospital (Non-European infectious dieases) ~ Johannes Rd EXT Waterval
Woodside Sanctuary ~ Dorbie Str Cottesloe


Norwich, O. I, 1986. A Johannesburg album-Historical postcards. Johannesburg: AD. Donker

Van Rensburg, C, 1986. Johannesburg-One Hundred Years. Pretoria: Chris Van Rensburg Publications

Van Der Waal, G-M, 1986. From Mining Camp to Metropolis. Pretoria: Chris Van Rensburg Publications

Chipkin, C. M, 1993. Johannesburg Style-Architecture & Society 1880s-1960s. Cape Town: David Philip

Chipkin, C. M, 2008. Johannesburg Transition-Architecture & Society from 1950. Johannesburg: STE Publishers

Macmillan, A, 1935. The Golden City. London: W. H. L. Collingridge LTD

Stark, F, 1956. Seventy Golden Years. Johannesburg: Municipal Public Relations Bureau

Beaconsfield, M, 1973. 50th Anniversary Golden Book of the Transvaal Memorial Hospital for Children.  Kimberley: Nothern Cape Printers

University of Pretoria institutional repository

The Johannesburg Hospital – Gear & Salmon

Wits Medical School heritage 

Thanks to Gwyn Thomas for the additional photos taken in March 2017

The next post on Hillbrow is coming soon. I’ve been working on both but decided to post Hospital Hill separately as it’s too much for one post. I welcome any additional info on some of these medical buildings and others I may have omitted.

This entry was published on January 2, 2016 at 1:57 pm. It’s filed under Johannesburg and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

58 thoughts on “Hospital Hill (Old Suburb between Braamfontein & Hillbrow)

  1. Thank you for another informative article, Marc. My daughter spent a few days in the Children’s Hospital when she was small. She received excellent treatment there.

    • nqobile lombo on said:

      Hi I am a student doing research on the South African Medical research Institute for the history component of my honours. I am trying to get plans of the building please help me anyone

      • Marc Latilla on said:

        Hi, try the building & planning dept at the Civic Centre. They have plans for most of the buildings in JHB.

  2. Pingback: History of Hillbrow Pt.2 | Johannesburg 1912 - Suburb by suburb research

  3. Pingback: Doornfontein Pt.1 (Lion’s Shul & Turkish Consul) | Johannesburg 1912 - Suburb by suburb research

  4. zelda do casal. on said:

    Good day, I am lead to believe that the Old Florence NIghtingale Clinic is now an
    orphange in Hillbrow. where babies are housed, and born. I am busy making baby
    blankets for this home now. would like to know who I may contact to hand the blankets
    for this home….. too.
    Thank you in anticipation
    Zelda do Casal.

    • Marc Latilla on said:

      Hi, the Florence is not an orphanage but a hijacked building. Try the Salvation Army of Children’s home as an alternative.

      • Hello Marc, i have to ask- hijacked by whom? or for what? I’m writing an historical fiction and i’m trying to get things right, but Joburg’s history is so layered and transient, it’s almost like the fossil record. Thank you for your work here, i appreciate it very much!

      • Marc Latilla on said:

        Thanks for reading! Many buildings in town and Hillbrow were left deserted by their owners in the late 80s and early 90s. Some left the country, others just gave up and forgot about them or sold them really cheap with massive rate backlogs. These empty buildings without electricity, running water, toilets or basic services were ‘taken over’ by gangs. They became the new illegal ‘owners’ and would charge rent as well as run prostitution and drug rings within the building. The state of the building would deteriorate to the point of it being condemned. By this time, the gangs had become so integrated with the building that it became difficult to remove them AND re-house the other people who lived there. There have been some successes, but there are still many of these hijacked building around. It is said that many of the gangs and tenants are illegal immigrants from other African countries but I don’t have any factual basis for this. There are other articles on the net if you search.

  5. Building between SAIMR and new morgue 2015 That was the original medical school, built before the one in Esselen Street.

    • Marc Latilla on said:

      Thanks for that! Will update accordingly

      • The Old Wits Medical School designed by A and W Reid and Delbridge in 1920. Ref:

        “The Past

        The precinct contains one of the finest collections of historic buildings in Johannesburg. It includes buildings to the west of Hospital Street such as the South African Institute for Medical Research building, designed by Herbert Baker and Frank Fleming in 1913, said to be based on Christopher Wren’s designs in Greenwich, London. Close by is the old Wits Medical School designed by A and W Reid and Delbridge in 1920. These buildings represent the work of some of South Africa’s most renowned architects, including Gordon Leith, Herbert Baker and Wilhelm Pabst, attracting the attention of visitors from all over the world.”

  6. trailers should read trialists

  7. Part of the hospital Hill area includes the suburb of Argyll which was where the Argyll and Sutherland Regiment camped. Reference Street names of Johannesburg:
    On 17 June 1893 the Executive of the Transvaal Volksraad decided to grant Commandant Daniel Egnatius [!] Schutte land on Randjeslaagte No. 34 (Art. 317). On 1 January 1894, and in 1896 and 1898 Schutte acquired more land in the vicinity of the General Hospital, De Korte, and Simmonds Streets (cf. The Critic, 3 July 1896, p. 176). According to Mrs. E. L. Gray Commandant Schutte was born in Rustenburg in 1854 and arrived on the Rand in 1887. The area was once known as Schutte’s or Schutte’s Ground.
    In June 1903 Messrs. Arthur Barnett & Co. took over the lease, and laid out, what was for many years, the smallest Johannesburg suburb, to the west of the General Hospital. Currie and Kirkwood sold 31 stands on 26 May 1903 (The Transvaal Critic, 15 May 1903, p. 738, U.G. 34—1912 and L. E. Neame’s City Built on Gold, p. 153). The name Argyll, according to the Rand Daily Mail of 7 August 1953, commemorates the fact that the Argyllshire Highlanders camped on Schutte’s ground for some months. Reference is made to this period in R. P. Dunn-Pattison’s History of the 91st Argyllshire Highlanders, pp. 325-6:
    ‘On 1 September 1902 the 91st [The Argyllshire Highlanders] left Elandsfontein and marched to its new quarters just below the Fort at Johannesburg, played, the first five miles, out of camp by the band and pipers of the 79th. The men were encamped in a walled enclosure, called the Police Barracks, and the officers had some houses just outside the enclosure. . . . During its stay at Johannesburg the 91st received great kindness from the Presbyterian church and the Caledonian Society. The band and pipers played one afternoon a week in the Public Gardens. The Town Council and the inhabitants showed their appre­ciation of its services, for before the battalion left for home they arranged a public concert, the proceeds of which, a very handsome sum, were handed over to the Commanding Officer for distribution to the pipers, drummers, and bandsmen. On May 4th . . . the 91st left Johannesburg.”
    The one street is name Sutherland street.
    Named after the 91st Regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, stationed there immediately after the war of 1899-1902, according to L. E. Neame’s City Built on Gold, p. 153. Mr. W. M. Russell wrote to the Town Clerk on 2 January 1907 to say that the township-owners gave the name to the street.
    In the United Transvaal Directory, 1908, it appears as Argyll (sic) and Sutherland Avenue (p. 599) and as situated in Argyll.”
    I used to live in the block of flats named Smitshof and wondered why the street was named Sutherland so I went and looked it up.

  8. “This was again demolished and replaced by Telkom as new headquarters (in black marble if I recall) in the 1980s and still remains although I suspect not in use”
    It is the telephone exchange for Hillbrow and a storage area.

  9. Glynis Millett-Clay on said:

    Good Morning, I am seeking my birth register information at the Queen Vic Maternity Hospital in 1952. I was born on 21 March that year and I dearly would love to know what time etc and what I weighed as well. Can some kind person point me in the right direction or perhaps help me? thank you kindly. Glynis (Cock) Millett-Clay from Benoni.

    • Marc Latilla on said:

      Hi Glynis, I have no access to this kind of information. Can I suggest you try the Dept. of Home Affairs? Request a vault copy of your birth certificate – this is the one your parents would have filled in by hand when you were born. It will only be what they filled in at the time (so some info may be missing), but it’s a start.

    • Good morning,

      I trust that I find you well,

      Thanks for a fantastic record.

      The artist Dirk Meerkotter made two etchings with the centennial celebration of the Johanesburg General hospital.

      And around the same time was asked to restore the backdrop of scenary created by him.for a production at the Wits Medical School (WMS fact check needed) .

      The work was then mounted at a refectory in the new Johanbesburg General Hospital residences. (I did see it around 1986 when meeting with the administration for improved Telkom connectivity.)

      I seem to recall Dr Brinkman?

      At the moment I am trying to locate these works of art as part of an effort to create and discuss his works. I have a fb page ans Instagram account for this purpose.

      I have also found many early works covering Richmond, Melville, Florida amongst others and it maybe of interest to link these to the history around 1945-1960.

      • Marc Latilla on said:

        Hi Gerrit, what is the name of the Facebook page? It may of interest to some of the visitors

  10. Caval Jane de Wet on said:

    I was born in Florence Nightingale Hospital on 20/09/1991. Any other info about the hospital ? Would be interesting to know

  11. What a delightful walk down memory lane … thank you so much for a beautifully researched article, MUCH appreciated! I’m going to make sure my daughter in Canada gets to read it too!

  12. Betina Fleming on said:

    Thank you for such a brilliant site! I am really enjoying delving into the history of Johannesburg. We lived in Brenthurst Place from the end of the 80’s to 2000 when my father passed away. The photo of the view over the Empire/Louis Botha intersection is what we saw from our balcony in number 103! It’s amazing to see how the area around or old home developed over the years.

  13. PaulaGruben on said:

    What a fascinating read, thank you Marc!

  14. Carol Coney on said:

    Brilliant. so grateful for your work

  15. Bernard Kaplan, Merion Pennsylvania. on said:

    Thank you so much, Marc Latilla –
    We visited The Old Fort in 2013.
    I had worked across the road at TMH in 1966 and 1969 and did not remember, or did not know, that Ghandi and Mr. Mandela had been prisoners in that awful place.
    Paige and I lived at the Old Doctors Residence on Esselen Street in 1965.
    Thank you for the memories.
    Bernard Kaplan.

  16. Cassie on said:

    I was born at the Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital in 1957. Later we moved to the northern Cape. Years later in 1969,my father was Stationed at the Hillbrow Police station in Clarendon Place. Later they build the new Police Station on the cornwr of Sam – Hancock street and Clarendon Place. We stayed at number 27 Sam – Hancock street, right opposite the Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital, my birth place. I became a policeman as well. All the houses were occupied by policeman from various Police Stations and Wardens from the Old Fort Prison. I remember many other Hospitals like The Lady Dudley, Brenthurst Clinic in Parktown, the Park Lane Clinic. The Princess and The Hillbrow Clinic.

    • Marc Latilla on said:

      Thanks for the memories Cassie! Did you live in one of those police houses that ran along Sam Hancock? I lived for a short time in the flats behind the Govt mortuary just up the road (my step-father was a policeman who worked there). Where was the Lady Dudley? I recall the name and for some reason think it may have been in Essellen Street?

      • Mike Tymbios on said:

        Hi Marc, I think the institution you referred to is the former Colin Gordon Hospital at the southern end of King George Street, corner Esselen Street in a rather bleak part of the Hospital Hill precinct. The Lady Dudley Nursing Home (disparaged as “The Deadly Lady”) was situated at the lower half of Hospital Street on the corner of de Korte Street.

      • Marc Latilla on said:

        Thanks Mike! I’ll look for more info and update accordingly.

  17. Christine Wintle on said:

    Are you related to herbert latilla who was the cousin of Andrew Duchesne ?

  18. Christine Wintle on said:

    I live in england and I am researching my family tree

  19. Thank you for an interesting tour of my old stamping ground. I googled the Florence Nightingale for an image of the front entrance and found this site. I was looking for the entrance of the ‘Florence’ for sentimental reasons but it is blocked in the image by some monstrosity.

  20. anita on said:

    Can anyone tell me who the Doctor/s was that delivered babies during 1978 at the Hilbrow Hospital? I have an interesting piece to put together but need the origin from the delivery day.

  21. ildi fenyvesi on said:

    The “building across the road from the Civic Centre” picture is the Forensic Chemistry Laboratory of JHB (a unit of the NDOH). I worked there for 15 years (from 1995). As far as I can recall ti was always a “laboratory” providing a forensic chemical testing service for clients such as the SAPS and pathologists. I recall a story where Daisy de Melke victim specimens were sent there to the lab for inorganic testing. It’s a beautiful old building but not conducive to a modern laboratory service, however the powers that be opted to renovate (and remove alot of the older features) the building instead of building a new one which would have been better suited.
    PS…I now work at the FPS MLL (government mortuary) in the old Non European hopsital)..and we have on occassion sneaked into the old derelict building/nurses quarters/hindu ward to explore the old buildings.

  22. Thank you for this site and the research behind it. I was born in the Queen Vic maternity home in 1963 and have been trying for some time to verify that it is where you show it to be. This is priceless.

    • Hettie Sanderson on said:

      I was also born in the Queen Vic in 1963, unfortunately, that is all I know. Although I was raised by my biological parents, I can not recall any information passed on to me? Strange as it may sound!

  23. Samantha Enslin-Payne on said:

    Hi Marc, I am looking for photos of two houses that were on Hospital Hill, one of which is where the deputy superintendent for the general hospital lived (this in the 1950s and 1960s). These houses were on Joubert Street extension, and near Number Four prison. Possibly below the old mortuary. Any information on where I could find photos of these houses would be appreciated, regards

    • Marc Latilla on said:

      Hi Samantha, there may be some aerial shots that could help from Museum Africa. I’ve tried with little success to find pics of the old mortuary on Joubert str EXT, but did come across some info. Please DM me

      • Vanessa Baerveldt on said:

        Hi, thank you for the interesting research on the buildings around Hospital Hill. I recently came across a marriage certificate dated 17 June 1918 and the place of abode for my grandfather’s sister was the Athenaeum Club. You note that the Club was closed in 1913. Is it possible that the club was still being used as residences in 1918? On the marriage register there is a name below the Athenaeum Club but it is difficult to read, but it may refer to a different town/city, but as she was married in Johannesburg it seems more likely that she was living in Jhb at the time. Could you let me know if the club was still used as a residence (boarding house or residential hotel etc.) after the club was closed in 1913?
        Thank you,

      • Marc Latilla on said:

        Hi Vanessa, I sent you a DM. It’s entirely possible that the building continued as something else but still retained the name or was just known as the Athenaeum Club. It was named after the London Club of which there appear to be several branches in the UK. There is still one in Port Elizabeth

  24. Sheila McFarlane (Paton) on said:

    Hi Marc, I was born in the Queen Vic in 1943. In 1965 I entered the the Queen Vic as a student midwife. A glorious old building with ghosts of the past. How sad to read it has fallen into disarray. What a waste. In fact I am angry at this news
    Sheila Paton

  25. Catherine Wepener on said:

    Hi Marc, Wonderful insights having been born at Frangwen Maternity Home 1965. I’ve been told my great aunt Florence “Floss” was matron at the Childrens Hospital Hillbrow early to mid 1900s. Would you have any information about the staffing for that time?
    Thanking you

  26. Pingback: Transvaal Memorial Hospital for Children | Johannesburg 1912 - Suburb by suburb research

  27. Hello Marc, so pleased to have come across your website. My query: My grandmother gave birth to her fourth child in 1942. Her husband worked on the Johannesburg mines. Would my grandmother have gone to the miners hospital to give birth or to a maternity hospital? Which hospital for the year 1942? I’m grateful for your help. Thank you. P.S. If you are able to help do email me.

  28. Gail Fourie on said:

    Does anyone know of the Conlea Nursing Home? I was born there in 1953, in Johannesburg. I cannot find any information.

  29. Kimita Pather on said:

    Hi Marc, I am trying to find the name of the hospital or clinic that used to be at 121 ellof street Johannesburg. I would love to know the history of this hospital/ clinic if possible. Thank you very much xxx

    • Marc Latilla on said:

      Hi, There is a ‘Clinix’ Solomon Stix Morewa Memorial Hospital just further down Ellof Street. Not sure of it’s history though. It’s not in an area I’m currently focusing on.

  30. Lesego Ikaneng on said:

    My Great Grandfather died at the old JHB General Hospital in 1935, where can I find records indicating his parents names. I would like to make a family tree or at least get to know our other relatives

    • Marc Latilla on said:

      Hi Lesogo, you could try the old Transvaal Memorial Children’s hospital archives (contact details on the post). I think you may have a better chance with Home Affairs though who should have copies of his death certificate and likely also a birth certificate (vault copy should list parents details). I’m not sure how good the records are that far back though…good luck!

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