Member of the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Serving Benoni's Business Family for almost 100 Years

 

Benoni history

The City of Benoni was 100 years old in March 2007

The City of Benoni is located on the East Rand, east of Johannesburg, in Gauteng province. The area forms part of Greater Johannesburg and since 2000, has been part of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality. Benoni became a city in 1981 and owes its existence to gold-mining and industry.

The first inhabitants of this area were Stone Age hunter-gatherers who roamed here some 50 000 years ago. Remnants of their weapons were found in the Rynfield area and near Cranbourne Station many years ago.

Benoni’s inauspicious beginnings were in 1881 when then surveyor general, Johan Rissik, found it difficult to assign title deeds to all unclaimed state property. He named the area ‘Benoni (Son of my Sorrows)’ after the name given by Rachel to her son in the biblical book of Genesis.

The Discovery of Gold

In September 1887, gold was discovered and the Chimes mine was established by Cornishmen. For a time the village was known as ‘Little Cornwall’. Sir George Farrar, the Chairman of a mining Company, undertook the beautification of the rapidly growing mining town in 1904.

Earliest known photograph of Benoni

This picture was published in The East Rand Annual, 1936.

When the photograph was taken is uncertain but was probably between 1900 and 1910.

Mine water was channelled into  marshland, and reservoirs, stocked with fish, were created. Today these reservoirs remain and the area is dotted with many lakes where the people fish, boat and relax. Thousands of trees were also planted in the new suburbia and Benoni achieved municipal status in 1907.

The Rand Revolt

In 1922 the Rand Revolt (or 1922 strike) broke out throughout the mines on the Witwatersrand, and thousands of white miners went on strike. The strike was partly led by the Communist Party and was not well received by the South African Government, so soon after the Russian Communist revolution of 1917. The strike quickly degenerated into open revolt, with armed miners fighting the South African Police and army in the streets. The revolt lasted for about a year and the miners were bombed by the newly formed South African Air Force (SAAF) during this time. Some of the SAAF aeroplanes were shot down by the miners by groundfire. During this revolt, Benoni was used as one of the headquarters of the miners and much fighting took place in and around the area. The Benoni Museum details this episode in the town’s history.

City Hall

This building is a fine example of art deco, a style of design popular during the 1920s and 1930s. The architect was Mr J Lockwood-Hall of Pretoria. Also called style modern, it features an anti-traditional look of sleek elegance that was associated with wealth and sophistication. It was characterised by geometric shapes, smooth lines and streamlined forms, which are reflected in the facade and lights of the building, and its 37m high central tower.

The foundation stone was laid by the Governor-General, the Earl of Clarendon in 1936.  Tom Newby was the mayor at the time. Erected in Curtis Park at a cost of £80 000, the Town Hall was opened in October 1938 by the next Governor-General, Sir Patrick Duncan, during the mayoral year of Mrs Susan Hills, Benoni's first woman mayor. At the opening function the Governor-General was presented with a gold key by the architect. The main hall with galleries can seat up to 1 200 people.

City Hall from the Air March 2007 

Town Hall from Princes Avenue ca 1980

Benoni Townships

During the Apartheid Era, designated townships for Blacks were established outside Benoni, namely Daveyton and Wattville. The township of Actonville was established for the habitation of Indians, whilst ‘Benoni Proper’ was reserved for ‘whites only’. These various suburbs remain, although the City is today relatively well integrated and all race groups may live where they choose. Each of these suburbs have their own interesting histories.

Benoni Today

Benoni is one of the friendlier cities on the East Rand, and our visitors can expect a warm welcome from most of the people who live here. Its also very diverse, with people of every colour and denomination. There are excellent schools, first-class hospitals, excellent hotels and stunning golf courses. The proximity of the city to OR Tambo international airport makes it an attractive venue for conferences. It is the only town in the Metro that boasts both a museum and a Publicity Association.

Over the years, gold mining has decreased in importance. Today the city is focused more on industry and services, rather than mining, and is now a service hub for other East Rand towns such as Brakpan, Nigel and Springs.

Visitors to the city may visit the local museum, the many lakes, the Lakeside Mall shopping centre (built to resemble a Mississipi Steam boat), attracting more than a million shoppers per month) or Northmead Square (known as the first shopping centre to bring cinemas back to Benoni) located in the suburbs.

The Lakeside Mall looking southwest

Near to Northmead Square is the Bunny Park which has hundreds of rabbits and other small animals, and is aimed at children.

Many famous people have come from Benoni and the city is privileged to have its own ‘Lane of Fame’ at the Cranbourne Centre. Benoni can lay claim to famous Film, TV and Radio stars, musicians, artists, sports stars, international referees etc. Our most famous family is the Tambos, who for many years lived in Wattville.

Benoni is indeed a city to be proud of — to all successful business owners, please support our Centenary year and give back to the city that has given so very much to you. We thank you for your donations and sponsorships that will enable our city to celebrate this centenary year in a manner that brings credit to the city and all of its people.

 
 

top

 

070-675-NPO

PBO 930032227

P O Box 1281

Benoni

1500

74 Cranbourne Ave

Benoni

1501

Telephone 011 421 9599

FAX 011 421 8627

email

info@benonicci.co.za

 
 

Copyright © 2008 by Benoni Chamber of Commerce & Industries. All rights reserved.

Site design - AVC