History of Newtown Pt.2

Initially, I wanted to complete Newtown in two parts. While working with the 1937 Goads map and a 1974 Curries Map of Johannesburg, I started digging into the various business names listed on the maps and uncovered some fascinating histories of some businesses that had their start in Newtown after the completion of the abattoir and market. This post focuses on the early industrial and commercial blocks in Newtown, some of which still stand today. It’s not an exhaustive study of this generally neglected part of Newtown, but I’ve hopefully covered the key concerns.

Although the area northeast of the 1910 abattoir no longer exists (nor does the abattoir), some of the buildings there existed from the early days of Brickfields until the mid-1980s.

Top right quadrant housed cold storage buildings from early Newtown up to the 1980s (Source: Google Earth)
Pritchard’s 1896 stand map shows the area where several cold storage buildings were located among regular residential stands
Holmden’s map c1960 shows Reitz, Short and Lydenburg streets where RCS was located just above the old abbatoirs

Rand Cold Storage

Rand Cold Storage and Supply Co. Limited was formed in 1904 as a subsidiary of the Imperial Cold Storage ad Supply Co. which was founded in Cape Town in 1830. Prior to this, in 1896, RCS built a cold storage plant on the north-western corner of the Railway Goods Sheds at Kazerne on the eastern border of Brickfields. It was one of the few structures that survived the Brickfields demolition, bubonic plague burn, the establishment and reconfiguring of Newtown, and the establishment of the market.

Imperial Cold Storage was one of the objectors of the 1902 Insanitary scheme. The stands are listed as 881/4, 912/23, 984/7a Brickfields. So too were JHB Cold Storage (a company formed in Aug 1899) with stands at 902/9, which appear to be one of the blocks that remained likely due to them not being declared insanitary. According to the report, many stands, mostly dwellings, around the cold storage buildings, were in poor condition and were earmarked for demolition.

Imperial Cold Storage & Supply Co. was set up in 1902 by De Beers and after the war amalgamated with another cold storage company and was later absorbed by another with interests in several other companies, one being JHB Cold Storage mentioned above. It seems there were many amalgamations with smaller firms, but cold storage competition in Johannesburg came in the form of Federal Supply and Cold Storage, which was itself an amalgamation of butchers Piel & Anghern and other small businesses.

RCS’s early days centred around the storage and supply of meat to the railways and the armed forces. After the 2nd Boer War, the business faced many challenges including the depression and strike of 1907 and the 1913 strike which ended in the looting of the food stores. The cold stores were targeted again during the 1922 strike, but looting was averted by the staff who stacked thousands of coal bags around the premises and protected it with rifles and small arms.

Aerial view c1956 looking west of the RCS buildings (Source: Seventy Golden Years)
RCS buildings looking south with Jeppe Steet Power Station and cooling towers in the background c1950s

The ‘Renown’ brand of bacon, cold meats, and polony was then established which became a staple in supermarkets and homes. Further expansion took place after WWII with a move into ice-cream manufacturing via Dominion-Impala Creameries, which was built on the premises in 1947. A kosher polony factory and canning factory were also on the cards.

Rand Cold Storage c1955 (Source: Seventy Golden Years)

Imperial and Cold Storage Co. was bought out by Tiger Brands in October 1998 and some of the meat brands (Enterprise, Renown and others) have since been sold again after the Listeria outbreak of 2017. Tiger Brands history also started in Newtown (see further below)

The RCS buildings were demolished sometime after 1985 after the implosion of the cooling towers. Today, the area at the eastern end of Carr street consists of the old station building that was re-erected in 1993, new apartments c2017, and the rise to the Nelson Mandela Bridge that was started in 2001 and completed in 2003.

Top right shows the demolished abattoir and RCS area c1986 (Source: Brink, 1994)

Municipal abattoir

A modern Newtown Abattoir was opened on 4 January 1910 near the site of the cold stores and railways. Prior to this, animals were slaughtered at several insanitary slaughter poles around the Brixton and Vrededorp area and sold at the lower section of the old market square where the Johannesburg Library is today. Levels of cleanliness were dubious at best as was the ‘processing’ of the offal and other animal by-products. In the early 1900s, much of the meat for Johannesburg was imported frozen and sent up by railway, which also facilitated the need for cold storage. A combination of the rinderpest, the war and drought depressed the number and quality of livestock. This improved over time.

Abattoirs c1910 (Source: Royal Presentation)
Old slaughter poles in the Brixton Area (Source: Johannesburg Saga)

Once the abattoir was opened, the slaughter poles were all closed down and livestock sales and slaughter were all taken over by the council. Companies that dealt in meat by-products also set up businesses in Newtown. Animal waste was processed into gelatine, tallow (for soap manufacture), blood and bone meal (animal feed), pigs hair (for bristle making), ox gall (cholic acid used to manufacture cortisone) and endocrine glands (for the manufacture of insulin).

Home refrigeration at this time was non-existent (larder and meat-safe) or handled by an ‘ice box’ where a block of ice was delivered weekly and limited perishables were stored inside. This box was usually made from oak and lined with zinc. By the late 1920s, electric fridges became common, and ice was still being delivered in Johannesburg up to the late 1930s. Perishable food was either purchased or delivered daily. Fortunately for the cold storage companies, home refrigeration posed no threat, as they still had to maintain the ‘cold chain’ from producer to consumer.

The Newtown abattoir was replaced by the new Municipal abattoir in City Deep in the mid-1970s. The market had outgrown itself by the late 1950s and talk of moving the market and abattoir had already started circulating in 1965. Indecision by the council on the move meant that Newtown deteriorated further and by 1969 was in a state of decay. There were many derelict and empty buildings, notably the old tram sheds and power stations. The development of Newton from the 1970s onwards will be covered in Pt.3.

The land that was once the abattoir was developed in the 2000s into affordable apartments and flats.

The area north of the old abattoir/apartments today houses the old Park Station structure. It’s important to point out that this was not its original position. It was originally where the modern Johannesburg Station and Gautrain station are today.

Old station structure during construction of the 1932 station (Source: Wally Green)

In 1894, Dutch railway architect Jacob F. Klinkhamer designed the new Park Station building which replaced the early wood and iron buildings of the stop.

The structure was fabricated at the ‘Pletterij Den Haag’ foundry in Holland in 1896 and transported in pieces to Johannesburg for assembly. Due to political unrest in the years leading up to the Anglo-Boer War in 1899, only the island platform with its pitched corrugated iron roof and elevated central barrel vault along with five buildings were erected. This is the same steel structure preserved in Newtown today.

Section of the original station structure preserved in Newtown 2018 (Source: Yeshiel Pancha)

Its assembly started in 1896 and was completed in 1897. The structure was in continual use, even after the then ‘modern’ 1932 station building was completed. With the next wave of ‘modern’ expansion that started around 1948, it was dismantled around 1951 and re-erected in Esselen Park in Kempton Park at the Railway College. It stayed there until 1993 before coming back to its present position on a concrete podium in Newtown where there were once plans for it to become a museum. Only 2/3 of the original station was reassembled. It is not known if the remaining sections are in a fit condition to be added in the future.

The following section looks at the businesses in Carr Street where Newtown Junction is today. I’ve used two references based on the maps for all the sections: C1974 is Curries Maps and c1937 is Goads Map.

Top left blocks of Curries 1974 map relate to this section

Carr Street (northern side) behind market:

D&L Butchery c1974
Jack’s gate and wire works c1974
TVL hide & skin c1974

These businesses were listed on the 1974 map. A handful of old buildings still remain, but unfortunately no history. On Goads map, the northern side of Carr Street in this section is listed as ‘1 story stores and yards’

Carr Street north 2022 (Source: Marc Latilla)
Google Earth view of Carr Street north c2009
Old buildings on Carr Street northern side c2009 (Source: Google Earth)
Aerial Section of Carr Street behind the Newton Mall c2020 (Source: Google Earth)
Goads Map 1937 shows Carr Street south businesses behind the old market

Carr Street (southern side) behind market:

J. Frankel Produce c1937, Piries Paper c1974
Gerstle & Hochstadter Produce c1937, H. I. Merwitz c1974
J. Frankel Produce c1937, Patlansky Bros. c1974
H. Lewis and Co. Produce/flour c1937, Local Depot c1974
Biscuit Warehouse c1937, Blank c1974
Friedlander Mill c1937 – c1974

All business listings for each section run west to east showing Goads 1937 and 1974 listings.

The Newtown Junction Mall, completed in 2014 stands here today, although most of the old buildings were demolished prior to this. The attractiveness of these stands during Newtown’s market days was the railway siding which ran at the back of the stands. Up until the late 1980s, the railways were heavily relied upon for moving all manner of bulk goods and raw materials around the country. This shifted to road transport as the railways degraded as can be seen by the eventual non-use of the Newtown sidings. The shift in businesses that relied on rail transport away from Newtown was also a factor.

Google Earth View of Carr Street south c2009 shows the old Gerstle & Hochstädter building
Same Google Earth view c2013 with Newtown Mall under construction
Same view in 2022 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Gerstle & Hochstädter

Gustav Gerstle and Ludwig Hochstädter came to SA from Germany in 1902 and started the business in 1907 in premises on 183 Commissioner Str near Jeppestown. They mainly supplied food to the mining compounds. During the hostilities of WWI, their premises were burned down, like many other German (and German-sounding) businesses at the time. In 1915, they moved to a new building at 117 Jeppe Str just off the Newtown border near Diagonal Street, which was close to the new market. Gerstle died in 1918 after returning from Europe.

They also purchased premises in Carr Street which already had a railway siding – a great benefit. Sal Hochstadter joined the firm in 1921 and the old wood and iron building on the Carr Street site was demolished and a new building erected. This building stood until it was eventually demolished for the Newtown Junction shopping centre in 2010, although it appears it was vacated by the business many years before. The 1974 Curries map does not list G&H as a business on the site, but rather H. I Merwitz, of which I could find no details.

Gerstle & Hochstädter building c1955 (Source: Seventy golden Years)

While retaining the growing produce business, the company also branched out into bricks and tiles and as well as establishing the Florence Soap and Chemical Works. This was during WWII to assist with the soap shortage. After the war, a plant was erected in Industria and produced the ‘Nagles Soap’ brand.

J. Frankel Produce / Tiger Brands

The still iconic Jungle Oats brand came from a family produce business that started in Newtown in 1921, by Jewish German immigrant Jacob Frankel who came to Johannesburg in1896. Jungle Oats idea was conceived in the late 1890s, but it was only launched in 1925 after Frankel, with financial assistance from Joffe Marks, founded Tiger Oats Limited in 1921 along with Englishman Frederick John Collier and his Cape Town-based milling company called Cereal Manufacturing Company, which he invested in using his inheritance after landing in the Cape in 1890s. Joffe Mark’s would go on to form Premier Milling, whose history is also linked with Newtown (see further below)

The premises in Newtown in Carr Street were still known as J. Frankel PTY Ltd Produce in the 1930s. The plants that manufactured Jungle oats were both in the Cape. On 8th November 1944, shares for the Tiger Oats and National Milling Company were floated on the JSE under the guidance of Rudy Frankel, the founder’s son. Over the years, especially in the 1980s and 90s, through acquisitions, Tiger Brands (what the company became known as after a name change) has become the biggest food company in South Africa.

Carr Street and various buildings including original Frankel/Tiger Brands c1970s (Source: Tiger Brands)
Same view Google Earth c2009

“The company’s portfolio of products includes many iconic brands, with several in existence for close to a century or more. These include Cross and Blackwell Mayonnaise, Rose’s cordial, Oros, All Gold Tomato Sauce, Fatti’s and Moni’s, Mrs Balls, Jungle Oats, and Black Cat.” Biz Community

Newer brands in the Tiger Brands portfolio also include Tastic, Koo, Golden Cloud, Albany, King Korn, Morvite, Beacon, Albany, Ingram’s Camphor Cream and Doom.

Tiger Brand visual history (Source: Tiger Brand website)

For further reading, try THIS Article on the first Tiger Oats complex in Moorreesburg in the Western Cape which was closed in 1987.

Patlansky Bros

Spelt with an ‘i’ on the 1974 Curries Map, I suspect it relates to Patlansky Bros & Patley. The Patlansky family came from Kovno Lithuania and were involved in the bar and liquor business in Johannesburg as early as 1887. Two younger sons, Charles and Bernard, arrived from America in January 1889 and joined the family business. Another brother, Joseph, started trading in groceries and specialising in cooking oils. Assisted by their cousin, Morris, J & M Patlansky was formed with assistance from Bernard. They built a brick building known as Patley’s Corner (also known as Patlansky’s corner on the corner of Jeppe and Jobert Street – designed by Beardwood c1912) and ran a successful grocery store. Patley was what they changed their surnames to, but it only officially changed in 1922.

Patlanksy Bros. & Patley advert c1930s

Morris left, leaving Bernard and Joseph to continue. After the war, the name was changed to Patlansky Brothers and again in 1922 to Patalsky Brothers & Patley. The oil business became Universal oil. The Universal Oil premises by Cook & Cowin c1926 was in Jeppe Street (which still stands next to the School Clinic) and although they moved to different addresses in Jeppe Street, their association with Jeppe Street spans 60 years. In the 1930s they purchased Alderton LTD (Potgietersrus) which manufactured Black Cat oil and Peanut butter until they sold it to Tiger Oats in 1948. In 1981, the business was taken over by Chipkins and the name changed to Patley’s (pty) Limited. Besides oil, they also imported continental delicacies from around the world. The premises listed in Newtown was likely a warehouse given its proximity to the railway siding.

Pirie’s Paper
Dealt with high-quality and watermarked paper products. Linked to stamps.

Unfortunately, I could find nothing on Friedlander’s Mill.

The next section covers the blocks east of the market buildings in Pim, Bree and Jeppe Streets (named Gwigwi Mrwebi, Lilian Ngoyi and Raheema Moosa streets respectively today)

Goads 1937 Map shows the blocks east of the market around Pim, Bree and Jeppe Streets
Curries 1974 Map showing the same blocks
Google Earth view of the same blocks c2020

Note that Becker Street is now Gerard Sekoto Street. Miriam Makeba Street was built c1985 when the area was reconfigured after the cooling towers were demolished. All the original stands were demolished to make way for the new street. At the same time, Wolhunter Street outside of the Market Theatre was converted into a pedestrian walkway that extends down to Jeppe Street and later renamed Margret Mcingana Street.

Pim Street (southern side) between Wolhunter & Becker:

BSB Building (corner) (Extant) Boere Saamwerk / Foundation for Creative Arts (Moerdyk & Moerdyk 1945)
Cosmo c1974 (Wolhunter) (Extant – part of BSB)
Klopper & Gluckman c1974 (Extant)
S.V.M. c1974 (Demolished – Miriam Makeba Street runs through)
Tuckers c1974 (Demolished – Miriam Makeba Street runs through)
Atlas c1974 (Demolished – empty stand)
Vleis Sentraal c1974 (Demolished – replaced by newer building taking up rest of block)
Karoo Lewende c1974 (as above)
Walker c1974 (corner) (as above)
Empire c1974 (Becker) (Demolished)

In 1937 most of the above stands indicated livestock, cattle and stables.

Pim Street (southern side) between Becker & West:

F.L.S.A c1974 (corner) (Demolished – empty stand)
Empire c1974 (Becker) (Demolished – empty stand)
Flior c1974 (Becker) (Demolished – empty stand)
Protea Cafe c1974 (Demolished – empty stand)
H.I. Nierwitz c1974 (Demolished – empty stand)
Bar c1937, Contract Livestock c1974 (Demolished – empty stand)
Linridge Buildings (Extant with signage) Under construction c1937
Venus Buildings c1937 (Demolished – empty stand)
Walks Buildings c1937, Jan Kruger c1974 (Demolished – empty stand)
Stables & cowshed c1937, Maisels’s Building c1974 (Demolished – empty stand)
TVL Spice works & butchers c1937, Columbia c1974 (now new shops)
Fresh Meat supplies hides & skins c1937, Joburg Offel Traders c1974 (corner – probably demolished now various new shops)

The following are some photos of buildings that still exist in this section:

BSB Building Boere Saamwerk / Foundation for Creative Arts by Moerdyk & Moerdyk 1945 (Source: Marc Latilla)
What was Klopper & Gluckman c1974 (Source: Marc Latilla)
Linridge Building surrounded by empty stands (Source: Google Earth)

Moving down one street to Bree Street covering both northern and southern sides. Please refer to maps further up.

Bree Street (Northern side) between Wolhunter & Becker:

Elby House (Wolhunter) c1937 (Extant)
Beer Hall (Wolhunter) (Extant)
Spaar (Wolhunter) (Extant) and Elby House c1937 (extant) Straat Hoffs (corner) (Demolished)
Union Farmer Supply c1937 (Demolished) Newtown Post Office (Demolished)
OFS Building (Demolished – Mirian Makeba Street runs through)
Sims Cold Storage 1 (Demolished – Mirian Makeba Street runs through)
Damata (Extant)
Sims Cold Storage 2 (Extant) Friedman & Smulowitz Produce stores c1937
B&I Trading (Extant)
Standard Band (corner) Extant – Newton branch designed by Alex Forrest in 1930
INT House (Becker Street) (Part of Standard Bank)

Mostly paint, coachbuilders and general produce in this area on the c1937 map.

Some photos of the northern side buildings:

Elby House c1937 opposite Market Theatre in Wolhunter Street in 2022 (Source: Marc Latilla)
Old buildings listed as ‘Beer Hall’ and ‘Spaar’ opposite Market Theatre on what was once Wolhunter Street in 2022 (Source: Marc Latilla)
Buildings that stood in the vicinity of Union Farmers Supply and the post office c2009 (Source: Google Earth)
Same block c2020 (Source: Google Earth)
Old Dimata, Sims Cold Storage 2 and B&I buildings c2010 (Source: Google Earth)
Miriam Makeba mural on a building on the c1974 stand called Dimata. This building was built after 1937 (Source: Marc Latilla)
Sims 2 building in 2022 (Source: Marc Latilla)
Old Standard Bank Newtown Branch designed by Alex Forrest in 1930 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Bree Street (northern side) between Becker & West:

Newtown Hotel (corner) (Extant) Tea room c1937
Empty block (Extant – now Lombard tyres) Produce c1937
Maxoan Building (Extant) Federal Building Material co. c1937
TVL gate & wire (Extant – new building above and behind c2010) Alliance building Materials Co. c1937
Glorgnette Building (Extant) under construction c1937
Raymond (Extant)
Gown Beer /Beef (extant) Standard Building Material Co. c1937
Premier (Extant) Bottle & Scrap Store c1937
Niorfoli (Demolished)
Bree B/S (corner) (Demolished and replaced) Timber Store c1937
Offal Pool (West) (Demolished and replaced) Garage/Metal Store c1937

Newtown Hotel estimate build date c1938/9 (Source: Google Earth)
Buildings after Newtown Hotel in Bree Street c2020 (Source: Google Earth)

It appears most of the buildings on this section of Bree Street after the hotel and up to the corner of Bree & West Streets still stand, although most have been greatly modified and added to over the last 50 years. Some old details are still visible.

Bree Street (southern side) between Wolhunter & Becker:

Jefs Catering c1974 (corner) and part of Newtown Arcade c1937 (demolished).
Corner extant as Nikki’s Oasis (estimate c1916)
Smith’s Saddlery (demolished-Miriam Makeba Street runs through)
Anti Frict (Demolished)
Crown Mills (Demolished) Saddlery and Keg & Tackle store c1937
Netherlands Bank (Demolished) Clarke Bros & Brown General Stores c1937
Rep Vet (extant 1911) Plumber & Saddler c1937. Biovet still trades
Barclays Bank (corner) (extant) Fertiliser and chemical warehouse c1937 (Saul Margo 1920)

Niki’s Oasis stands on what was Jefs Catering on the 1974 map and a restaurant in 1937 (Source: Marc Latilla)
Advert for Smith’s Saddlery c1955 (Source: Seventy Golden Years)
Clarke Bros. & Brown advert c1946 (Source: JHB Jubilee)
Rep Vet (1911), Biovet and old Barclays Bank building on the corner (Source: Marc Latilla)

Barclays Building is credited to Saul Margo c1920, but doesn’t show up on the 1937 map and I can’t find any other reference yet.

Bree Street (south) between Becker & West:

Transpice (corner) (Demolished) National Bank of SA c1937
Festive Food (Extant 1901 but c1910-1915) Tollman Bros & Davis c1937
Karoo Meat (Demolished) park of current carpark
Piel’s cold Storage (both corners) extant as Piels c1937. The whole area that was Piel’s is now a carpark.

Tollman Bros. & Davis building (Source: Marc Latilla)

The date on the building is 1901, but this is likely when the business was established. Like many older buildings in the area, it probably dates from between 1910-1915.

Tollman Bros advert (Source: Seventy Golden Years)

Piel’s Cold Storage

In 1893, the original business was established in old Brickfields by Albert Piel and Adolph Anghern as Anghern & Piel Sausage and Polony makers. The premises were roughly where the market buildings stand today. They traded through the Jameson Raid and dynamite explosion. After the 2nd Boer War, they move their premises to Braamfontein, where the Albert Cinema stood (need to confirm). This was presumably due to the flattening of Brickfields as their premises would have been in the centre of the old suburb. They were not objectors to the Insanitary scheme, so clearly took the ‘market-related’ payment for the property and moved on.

Piel’s in Braamfontein

Piel and Anghern’s butcheries were amalgamated with Federal Supply and Cold Storage Compay between 1904 – 1907. There was a court case against Piel & Anghern brought about by Federal Supply c1910 relating to fraudulent activity around a secret deal in the purchase of cattle, as well as some adjustments to overdrafts. At some point, it looked like they got off, but new evidence proved otherwise and they were ordered to pay back the money. I suspect they broke away from Federal Supply around this time and went back on their own.

In 1915, after the market moved from Market Square to the new Newtown Market buildings, they acquired the site on the corner of Bree and West streets. The premises were looted during the 1922 revolt. The building was later extended to take up most of the block. Piel’s also expanded into retail butcheries throughout the city bearing the legend ‘Piel’s Pure Pork Products’. In the 1950s, they were the largest ham and bacon factory in the union. Albert died in 1937, but his son carried on the business. Thie Site of Piel’s today is the West Street Parkade which looks like it was erected in the late 1970’s or early 1980s.

Parking garage takes up what was once the Piel’s premises which covered most of the block (Source: Google Earth)
Piel’s advert c1936 (Source: JHB Jubilee)

York Cheese Factory was also connected to Piel’s. Interestingly, Alberton’s first skyscraper was built by Mr. Piel (presumably the grandson of Albert) and named Royal York, after the cheese factory. It was built in 1971 and was 13 storeys high – 2 lowers levels for shops and 11 for residential apartments. The building still stands today. It appears the cheese factory was also in Alberton near the building.

York Building in Alberton (Source: Google Earth)
View down Bree Street toward the market c1935 (Source Macmillan)

Jeppe Street (northern side) between Wolhunter & Becker:

Rolf Cafe c1974 (corner) Extant. Schlom Native eating house c1937 (built in 1914) G. Spitz and Co. Long section of Spitz extant in 2010 GE. Bag factory in JHB list (no date)
Air Cargo (Demolished for Miriam Makeba Street)
Rolf flowers (Demolished for Miriam Makeba Street)
Multiflora (Block demolished) Clarke Bros & Brown General Stores c1937
Sielings (Block Demolished) smelting works c1937
Sieling (corner) (Block Demolished) Laboratory c1937

Jeppe Street (north) between Becker & West:

Rand Del/Sel (corner) (Extant) Tube & metal Store c1937
BLANK (extant) Building Materials c1937
Piel’s Cold Storage (Demolished) (half block plus corner) Now car park.

Rolf Cafe/Schlom’s eating house c2010 with part of Spitz and Co. behind (Source: Google Earth)
Same as above in 2022 (Source: Marc Latilla)
Blue plaque for Schlom’s eating house (Source: Marc Latilla)
Google view shows Spitz building behind Schlom c2010
Same view c2020 (Source: Google Earth)

The rest of the stands up to Becker Street have all been demolished and are currently empty and used as a carpark. All were all once flowers sellers (Rolf Flowers, Multiflora and Sielings)

Sielings Florist advert

Multiflora

“In July 13, 1944, Jacob Toxopeus, GC van der Merwe, Willie Stock who cleverly came up with the name Multiflora. Jochem Toxopeus got together to decide on the basic structure of the company which, today, is the core of the South African flower industry.

Before this concept materialised, flower sellers hired tables at the Johannesburg Municipal Market. Selling direct to florists, members of the public and street vendors.

Each of the four shareholders invested R7.500 in the venture and Jacob Toxopeus became the CEO of the fledging business. That opened in Jeppe Street with one manager, two auctioneers, a caretaker, a fruit salesperson, a typist and six flower handlers.

Persuading flower growers to use the new auction house was the first task and transport of fresh blooms could be a problem. In the early days, this involved bicycles, horse-and-cart and trains. Flowers transported by train often arrived late, but we try ensure for it to be on time!

Despite the initial problems, Multiflora flourished. Cardboard boxes were introduced in the 1950s and the company’s reach extended out to Tzaneen, Pietersburg and the Lowveld. Dealing in the then top-of-the-pops fashionable flowers carnations, snap dragons and poppies.

By September 1975, Multiflora needed larger premises and moved to its present location at City Deep and the auction process was computerised the following year in 1976.

Today, Multiflora, with its 600 beautiful flower growers and about 400 florists and buyers. Turnover of One million stems per day an incredible achievement for a business that started as nothing more than a bright idea in 1944!” Source: Multiflora website

Seilings, which was also a flower seller, evidently also moved to City Deep as there is a Google listing for the business. This section of Jeppe Street was seemingly dominated by flower sellers from the mid-1940s to the 1970s.

Empty block c2020 that was once the centre of flower selling in JHB (Source: Google Earth)
Old tube and metal store and building materials building from c1937 map (Source: Google Earth)

West of the Market buildings (old plague area)

This section of Newtown was where the old ‘Coolie location’ was situated, the same one that was burned down by the fire brigade in 1904 after the outbreak of bubonic plague (see Pt.1 HERE for the story). It’s made up of four blocks, each with railway sidings running through the middle. The only business reference for this section is Goad’s 1937 map.

Blocks between Malherbe and Quinn Street (Source: Goads 1937)
Block between Quinn and Goch Street (Source: Goads 1937)
Google Earth view c2020 of the old location block

Before focusing on the businesses, there are two descriptions on the northern side of Carr Street on the Goads map. Between Malherbe and Quinn Street was the S.A.R. Sports Ground. Between Quinn and Goch Street is S.A.R Native Barracks. These buildings, although derelict, still stand today. The building on the sports ground was the JHB Railway Institute and Amateur Athletic Association and SAR&H recreation centre. The building dates to c1913. The sports grounds were swallowed up by later railway expansion.

S.A.R. recreation centre built c1913 in Carr Street 2022 (Source: Marc Latilla)
S.A.R. Native Barracks Carr Street c1915 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Carr Street (southern side) from Malherbe to Quinn:

Produce Warehouse
Macdonald & Co. Lime and produce
W. M. Arthur and Co. Timber
Flour and grain warehouse (no owner stipulated – possibly Barone)
Barone Brothers flour & Grain

Carr Street (southern side) Quinn to Goch Street:

Premier Milling (Theophile Schaerer 1914)
Price Candles (c1910)

There was very little info on the Barone Brothers, but it appears to have been a collection of Italian bakeries and confectioners with branches in Vrededorp and Fordsburg, along with the flour and grain business in Newtown. The old grain silos that were built on these stands were converted into student accommodation in 2014.

Barone Brothers info from Government Gazette c1921
View of converted Silos on Carr Street on Barone stands (Source: Marc Latilla)

Premier Milling

Premier Milling was Founded by Joffe Marks in 1913 and was a successor to Marks & Co. which was founded in 1890. It all started with one mill in Fordsburg and the merging of Marks & Co and Premier Roller Flour Mills. In 1916, expansion facilitated new premises in Newtown. According to JHF Heritage list, the building on the corner was designed by Theophile Schaerer in 1914 who was also responsible for the Great Synagogue on Wolmarans Street.

Premier Milling Carr Str c1916 (Source: Kestefens Wikimedia)
Premier Milling building in 1953 (Source: Kestefens Wikimedia)
Premier building in 2022 known as The Mills (Source: Marc Latilla)

According to Artefacts, the new building dates to 1926 and was designed by Gordon Leith.

In 1934, Premier acquired union flour Mills and the adjacent Newtown business known as Vereeniging Milling company, which evolved into Epic Oil Mills and Epol animal feeds.

Joffe Marks died in 1951 at the age of 89, but his nephews continued running the company.

In 1964, Premier acquired the South African Milling Co. which dated back to Atwell’s Bakery founded in 1820. Various new mills were opened around the country and other businesses were added to the fold. In 2011, Brait SE became a long-term strategic partner holding 90% of Premier. Other acquisitions after this include Swaziland Bakeries, Manhattan Sweets, Lilets and Mister Sweet.

“As of 2016, Premier operated 16 bakeries, 7 wheat mills, 3 maize mills, a sugar confectionery plant, feminine hygiene manufacturing plant, a biscuit plant, a pasta plant, and an animal feeds plant. The company has 22 distribution depots in South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique, and a Lil-lets sales office in the UK” Wikipedia

Premier moved out of Newtown in 2002. In 2003, after an R12 million restoration, the building caught fire, but was again restored. Known as The Mills, it was converted into offices and was once home to ‘The Woods’ which was a bar and club. A small brewery was also set up business on the premises.

Adjacent Premier buildings on Quinn Street (Source: Marc Latilla)
Premier Milling door with PM on the brass plate (Source: Marc Latilla)
Some old railway siding tracks are still visible on Quinn Street (Source: Marc Latilla)

Price Candles

E. Price and Co. were formed in Battersea UK in 1830 and renamed Edward Price and Co. in 1840. In 1847 it became a public company. In 1909, Price’s Candles Ltd bought out Burmeister Candle Factory in Cape Town marking its entry into South Africa. In 1910, the factory in Newtown was built and further extended in 1924 by architect Harold Porter.

Prices South Africa building frontage 2022 (Source: Marc Latilla)
Prices Carr Street side 2022 (Source: Marc Latilla)

The first liquid wax tanks in South Africa were installed in the Newtown factory in 1958,

The company and wax making divisions went through several ownership changes over the decades, but in 1982, Shell UK took majority ownership and sold the business rights in South Africa to Shell SA. In 2001, all the operations in SA were closed except for Newtown which focused on domestic candle manufacture. In 2015, the Lion Match Co. bought Price’s Candles. The buildings still stand today and Price Candles appears to be the longest running business on the same premises in Newtown (and probably one of the longest running on the same premises in all of Johannesburg. Some contenders may be Standard Bank, Markhams or….)

Prices factory Carr Street (Source: Google Earth)

Pim Street (northern side) Malherbe to Quinn:

Produce & general dealer
Timber yard
Clyde Trading and Co.
Building Merchants – later Kowarsky & Co. (Saul Margo 1928)
Newtown Saw Mills
Asbestos Products
Polson & Day Produce and warehouse

Pim Street (northern side) Quinn to Goch Street:

Premier Milling Grain Stores
Vereeniging Milling Co. Grain and flour
Commercial Building
Produce warehouse

Clyde Trading advert (Source: JHB Jubilee 1946)
Old Kowarsky & Co. premises by Saul Margo c1928 (Source: Google Earth)
Premier Milling grain stores and Vereeniging Milling Co. building now Carfax/Toy-Toy c2020 (Source: Google Earth)
View of silos and commercial buildings in Pim Street 2022 (Source: Marc Latilla)
Produce buildings on the corner of Pim and Goch Street estimated c1915-1920 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Pim Street south Malherbe to Quinn:

Fred Cohen, Goldman and Co bonded and duties warehouse (MJ Harris 1920)
B. Sacks and Co. grain and produce
South African By Products Corporation
Pheenie Sand and Co.
Grain Warehouse Offices (Civicus House c1920s)

Pim Street south Quinn to Goch

Pheenie Sand & Co.
Henwood Son, Soutter and Co. hardware & general dealer. Samuel Bros (Emily 1913)
Grain Warehouse (D. Kingsbury Building)
Produce
Produce – Janowers Building (John Adams 1913)
Newtown Buildings/ SARA House (Saul Margo 1919)

Pheenie Sand & Co. Advert (Source: JHB Jubilee 1946)
Listed as offices on the corner of Quinn and Pim Streets is Civicus House (Source: Marc Latilla)

Henwood, Son, Soutter & Co.

According to the Agricultural Journal of 1917, they supplied cheese-making equipment and had showrooms on Kerk Street. The older building on the stand was designed by Frank Emley in 1913 and was also once home to Sammel Bros. This may have been Henwood’s first Newtown building after Kerk Street. Reid & Martin designed a new building for the firm in Newtown in 1938.

Two Henwood, Son, Soutter and Co. buildings c1913 (Frank Emley) and c1938 (Reid & Martin) (Source: Google Earth)
D. Kingsbury building and a view down the southern side of Pim Street 2022 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Janowers Building

The owner is listed as J. Janower and it was designed by John Adams in 1913. It appears to have been connected to a produce store, like so many buildings in the area. The building is mentioned in the book ‘The death of an idealist: the search for Neil Agget’. In 1978 it was used as premises for the EDA (Environmental and Development Agency)

Janowers Buildings (John Adams 1913) in 2012 (Source: Marc Latilla)
SARA House/Newtown Buildings (Saul Margo 1919) with Janowers next door 2022 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Bree Street north Malherbe to Quinn streets:

Produce & general dealer
Indian dwellings (S. I. Mia named as owner c1914)
Smithy
Verseput Bros grain & fodder (I. Wayburne 1930)
Saw Mill & timber store
Star Milling Co.
Vacant / Messrs F. H. Bagnell & Co c1912 in JHB Heritage

Bree Street north Quinn to Goch Street:

Rand Mines Produce supply & Co. (Kallenbach c1914) Honda Centre c1970/80
Sand & Co. Ltd building materials (offices by D. Macdonald Sinclair c1918 also listed as Schneier & London)
Spillemer Produce (Bertam R Avery 1922)
Un-named produce building. E. Brodie owner (Bertam R Avery 1920)

Corner and block listed as Indian dwellings on 1937 map c2020. Original buildings and stables still exist at the back of these buildings (Source: Google Earth)
Veseput Bros. advert c1955 (Source: Seventy Golden Years)
Verseput Bros building (I. Wayburne 1930) c2020 (Source: Google Earth)
Newtown Quarter encompasses several stands of renovated old buildings after Veseput Bros building (Source: Google Earth)
Rand Mines Produce supply & Co. (Kallenbach c1914) Honda Centre c1970/80 (Source: Marc Latilla)

Sand & Co. Ltd

According to ‘Johannesburg Saga’ the business was started by Abraham Sand in 1894 as a general merchant business trading on a stand on Goch Street. The family left during the war and returned in 1902 and started the business again. Goch Street and the site listed on the 1937 Goad map would not have existed then, but unfortunately, there is no further reference. At some point in the first decade of 1900s, the business was re-established on a site near Goch Street with frontage to Bree Street.

Sand and Co. showroom and offices c2020 (Source: Google Earth)

Sand & Co. Ltd was officially registered on 24 March 1920. Abraham died four months later, but the business continued with his friend and chairman John Mackenzie and his son Morris. The business also shifted from general merchandise to building materials and in 1930 took over the distribution of bricks from a Natal firm. Morris’s two sons joined the company in the 1930s and in 1946 the business became a public company with Prof. John Orr as a director.

It was so established in the building industry, its slogan was ‘You can’t build without Sand’. In 1952 they decided to combine property ownership and real estate development into the business. In 1960, the company was renamed Sand Consolidated Investments and had many subsidiaries related to property and property management. They erected Clifton Heights and Bridgeport in Braamfontein, Reynard Hall in Catherine Avenue and Seven Oaks in Killarney. They were one of the investors in Shell House and built Sandglen Towers on Main Street in the early 1970s which was purchased by United Bank and is now the ABSA towers. I came across several references to the ‘Sand Brothers’ in relation to Sandglen Towers, but not across any info on their various companies’ whereabouts after the 1970s.

Bridgeport and Clifton Heights in Braamfontein c2020 (Source: Google Earth)
Spillemer Building (Bertam R. Avery 1922) (Source: Google Earth)
E. Brodie building (Bertram R. Avery 1920) (Source: Marc Latilla)

Around the corner in Goch street are several old buildings and warehouses.

Market Cold Storage with Art Deco signage built after 1937 (Source: Marc Latilla)
Warehouse (possibly behind Spillemer) next to the Cold Storage building near the railway sidings (Source: Marc Latilla)
Produce building dated 1913 opposite Spillemer warehouse (Source: Marc Latilla)

South Bree Street area:

Unfortunately, very little information is available on this section of Newtown. It was made up of various scrap metal and bottle yards, wagon and coach builders/repairers, and fodder/grain/feed stores. Transport House and the municipal garage and workshops were covered in Pt.1 HERE.

Blocks south of Bree Street 1937 (Source: Goads 1937)
Blocks south of Bree Street c2020 (Source: Google Earth)

Metal Signs & name plates Jeppe Str

Established in 1947 by Carl Sachs. Originally in Betty Str Jeppestown. Started with 15 staff making number plates. Moved to bigger premises at 207 Main Reef Road Westgate in 1949 and also started manufacturing the ‘Robin Hood’ carrier and car accessories.

They moved to a specially designed and built building at 21 Jeppe Str Newtown in 1954, where in addition to number plates, also manufactured municipal and provincial road signs, sports club badges, metal car key badges and tourist car badges. They were later pioneers of ‘Scotchlite’ (reflector-like) numberplates and letters/numbers.

Metal Signs Building Jeppe Street c1955 (Source: Seventy Golden Years)
Same view c2020 (Source: Google Earth)

Crownley bacon & polony factory

Entries in the Government Gazette show a special and extraordinary resolution in May 1921 which related to an increase of capital from 6 000 Pounds to 10 000 Pounds. The factory existed in 1927 as it was part of a tour by Potchefstroom farmers (Farming in South Africa – June 1927)

Site of Crownley factory next to Metal Signs buildings c2020 (Source: Google Earth)

Some remnants of some older structures remain.

Old warehouse structure shape remains on the opposite side of Metal Signs (Source: Marc Latilla)

Origins of the old and new street names:

Carr Street was named after former JHB mayor (1902-3) Sir Wm St. John Carr.

Pim Street, which was named after Councillor James Howard Pim (1903-7) became Gwigwi Mrwebi, which is named after a well-known alto saxophonist from the 1950’s South African Jazz scene.

Bree Street, which means ‘wide street’ in Dutch, became Lilian Ngoyi, which is named after the apartheid activist and the first woman to be elected to the ANC Executive Committee. It’s no wider than any other street.

Jeppe Street, named after Johannesburg pioneer Julius Jeppe became Rahima Moosa Street, after the woman who was a member of the Transvaal Indian Congress and later the African National Congress, and who played a key role in the national uprising of women on 9 August 1956.

Becker Street, which was named after mining director F. Thorpe Becker, became Gerard Sekoto Street, named after the South African artist and musician.

Miriam Makeba Street is named after the world-famous South African singer.

Wolhunter Street, which was likely named after early pioneer F. M. Wolhunter, became Margaret Mcingana street, named after the Xhosa singer.

Quinn Street was named after mayor J. W. Quinn (1905-6) who was also a master baker.

Goch Street which was named after mining magnate George Henry Goch who also served as mayor (1904-5), became Henry Nxumalo Street, named after the Drum Magazine investigative journalist.

Part 3 of Newtown will focus on the 1970s onwards covering the Market Theatre Precinct and later developments including various regenerative plans and efforts over the years.

Bibliography:

Report of the Johannesburg Insanitary Area Improvement Scheme Commission 1902-1903 with minutes of proceedings, minutes of evidence and annexures. Presented to His Excellency the Governor of the Transvaal March, 1903.

Beavon, K, 2004. Johannesburg: The Making and Shaping of a City. University of South Africa Press. Pretoria

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

Neame, L. E. c1959. City built on gold. Central New Agency South Africa

Macmillan, A, c1932. The Golden City.London: W. H. & L. Collingridge LTD.

Itzkin, E, 2000. Gandhi’s Johannesburg. Witwatersrand University Press. Johannesburg

Shorten, J, R, 1970. The Johannesburg Saga. Johannesburg: Johannesburg City Council.

Stark, F, 1956. 70 Golden Years. Felix Stark Johannesburg

Kaplan, M, 1991. Founders and followers – Johannesburg Jewry 1887-1915. Vlaeberg Publishers Cape Town

Smith, A, 1971. Johannesburg Street Names. Juta & Co. Johannesburg

Websites:

http://www.pricescandles.co.za/pages/15124/history

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premier_FMCG

https://www.premierfmcg.com/about-us/our-history

https://www.multiflora.co.za/

https://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/how-eight-entrepreneurs-helped-shape-the-south-african-economy-2021-07-30-1/rep_id:4136

https://www.casemine.com/judgement/uk/5b4dc2452c94e07cccd2369f

This entry was published on September 24, 2022 at 8:53 pm. It’s filed under Johannesburg and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

7 thoughts on “History of Newtown Pt.2

  1. Brilliant, brilliant work on the meat industry in Jhb! Just stunning! Wish you will do this for CT also!

  2. Incredible history!!. Keep it up

  3. Fantastic research however I really would like to know about the building under the freeway which looks a bit like a double story house. It’s at the back of Newtown Junction and opp. the Produce building you have in this article on the corner of Pim and Goch. Have you not managed to find anything about it? Thanks Marc.

    • Marc Latilla on said:

      Thanks! I’m adding it to the next piece along with a bunch on photos I took of the area in 2012 before the contruction of Newtown Junction

  4. Thanks Marc, looking forward to it.

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