Prior to the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886, the suburb of Malvern lay on land on one of the original farms that make up Johannesburg, called Doornfontein. The area is named after Malvern or Malvern Hills in Worcestershire with the land proclaimed as a suburb on June 1904.

I remember driving down this road as a child with my father as it was the spot to go if you were in the market for a second hand car. Over the years the the second hand dealerships moved out and made way for panel beaters, spaza shops and African hair stylists to move in. The long standing Mediterranean Fish Centre is still there with loyal customers driving from far. I also remember going to Dawson’s Cafe and eating their great big hamburgers.

The tram building on the corner of Jules Street which by the way is the longest straight street in Johannesburg always fascinated me. Built in 1911 it was the office where one would buy tickets to hop on the tram , this was one of the busiest tram lines in the day . It was a single track that was laid out in the centre of a gravel road.

Over the years the building has changed hands a few times and with that comes different types of business’s. It has been a bakery, a hardware store and an electrical depot. Now it is a tasty Portuguese takeaway , where you can buy anything from chicken and prawns to pap and gravy. Next door is the horse betting and often when driving past one will see long queues of people outside waiting to place their bets anxiously hoping to win a few rands.

The area of Malvern is a typical example of life in Africa. With rows upon rows of street vendors or hawkers selling anything from plates with fresh fruits and vegetables , to clothes and cages with live chickens and loud music blaring from speakers as stores try and attract passers by to step into their shops. One cant help but stop in this densely populated road and for a moment wonder what is what like in the early 1900’s when the tram ran through.

The station at 458 Jules Avenue could tell many a story as it has stood proudly all these years at the corner serving customers and watching the passers by.

If transport history intrigues you then it is recommended that you try and hunt down a copy of Johannesburg Tramways by Tony Spit. Dont expect to pay anything less than R400 if you are lucky enough to find one.