A cold winters day always get’s me excited. I can’t lounge around, instead I become super energised. So with a spring in my step and the smell of rain in the air I set out early on a city adventure.

For a long time now I have driven past the church on the hill and wanted to go and see it. Driving down the road past Egoli gas you can see the steeple of the church on your right hand side.

Today was my chance, with the grey clouds, and the soft drizzle I found my way up the hill to the entrance of The Dutch Reformed Church on Cottesloe Ridge. The grand church stands proudly flanked by two big plain trees showing off their beautiful winter colours.

This area is known as Vrededorp, it was also known as Fietas. It was an area of forced removals during the apartheid era. In 1904 the area was struck by bubonic plague and on the 20 March the mixed population was evacuated and the area burnt to the ground. By 1940 the population of Pageview was predomentlely Indian and the area started developing characteristics as such. Mosques, temples and churches where established and the 14th street shopping mecca began.

On the 23 February 1943 the area was officially named Pageview in honour of the then Mayor of Johannesburg, Mr. J.J.Page. Up until this point it had been known as Fietas.

By 1962 there were 177 shops in the area, the Oriental Plaza was established in 1974, but it stayed virtually empty until 1976 when unwilling traders were forcibly removed from their shops in Pageview.

All that remains for the well known 14th street is a small Plaque outlining what this area once was. It is now strewn with rubbish and homeless people loitering around begging from passers by.

I was fortunate enough to find Wynand, the caretaker of the church at home. He stays a few houses away. He tells me he has been living in the area for about 43 years now. He wonders how long he will be able to continue taking care of the church, he is 73 years old already but is still active and eager to share a story or two.

The church can house between 300 – 350 parishioners but these days only around 100 – 150 attend the one Sunday service at 9am. The numbers are diminishing as the local community changes to young students who attend the two universities. The priest who gives the service drives from Pretoria every Sunday. On the walls outside the church are plaques for churches in the area that have already closed down.

This church was designed by Gerhard Moerdijk in 1935, it has the Cape Dutch Style Facade and tower. Gerhard was also responsible for designing the new Park Station together with Gorden Leith in 1927 and he designed the Voortrekker Monument in the late 1940’s.

On the hill next to the church are the remains of a monument for the soldiers who died in the Boer War. Sadly it has been damaged and not much has been done to preserve it.

Just a few hundred meters down the road I come across the Buddhist Temple. The mosaic sign on the wall is in need of some new letters, one can only imagine that the local children have been peeling them off. Lovemore was standing guard at the gate as he let out some visitors, I asked him if I could have a look around. He willingly let me in and showed me around telling me how they had just had some recent guests from Bangladesh. I took off my shoes and went into the temple.

It was not what I was expecting at all. From the outside appearance which was fairly bland and run down, I was now faced with the sudden contrast of bright and vibrant colours which immediately carried me to far off lands. The peace and tranquility I felt in the room with the light sneaking in through the beautifully shaped windows made me want to sit down and enjoy it for an hour or two.

The beautiful wooden floors creak as you walk over them in the library taking you back in time. Allowing you to appreciate one of the many old properties of Johannesburg.

This town has so much history to it, a lot of the houses are now rented out as student accommodation and others are terribly run down. History has a way of repeating itself and maybe this will be the next urban renewal project.


Source: http://www.sahistory.org.za/article/fietas-pageview-timeline-1880-1988