Benoni is known as a town and has produced some famous exports over the years like Charlize Theron , Princess of Monaco Charlene Wittstock, and Springbok player Bryan Habana to name but a few, but where did it all begin ?
In 1881 when John Rissik found it difficult to assign tittle deeds to unclaimed state property, he named the piece of land in the area Government Farm Benoni, after the Hebrew name ( meaning “ son of my sorrow ‘) given by Rachel to her son ( who later became known as Benjamin ). In September 1887 , gold was discovered and the Chimes Men was established by Cornishmen. The village became known as “ little Cornwall” for a time

These are some memorable spots to visit with history or else just a way to enjoy Benoni.

 Teddybear house Book Shop

A collector’s dream, this vintage shop owned by Stephanie, is roughly 6 years old and found in one of the older houses in Benoni, with its wooden floors and stained glass front doors it adds to the character of this shop which is not only home to fiction books but also 600 teddy bears that have been donated over the years. Some call it a Teddy Bear retirement home. Kobus, the biggest of the lot sits proudly on his chair wearing his Springbok jersey. One room is dedicated to children’s books and there is a table in the room where they can colour in or read a book while parents browse around in other sections. They work on a library type system where you receive 50% back of your purchase when returning and buying your next selection of books.

130 Wooton Avenue, Western Ext Benoni

Kobus the bear

The Victoria Secret

Tait house is one of the finest examples of Victorian architecture in Benoni. It was built in 1911 for the entrepreneur WM Tait and designed by Robert Macbeth Robertson, a leading architect at the time. The historic home forms part of an important group of Victorian buildings to the West of Benoni CBD. It came close to being demolished in 2009 but was rescued and was renovated to what is now a delightful tea garden with a giant oak tree and adjoining bakery and Kids Haven charity shop.

Korsman’s Famous Ice – Cream store

In 1924 Marthys and Nic Korsman came to South Africa from the Netherlands and decided on settling in Benoni. Once settled their next project was to create a business and this is how Korsman’s ice cream factory came to be in 1925. At first it was called A1 Ice cream factory and run by the Messrs Korsman brothers.Klaas was a carpenter by trade and he built the original factory but as business boomed so did the need for extra space and so the building was extended to the corner of Swan and Woburn Avenue. The brothers used various modes of transport to deliver the ice cream, which was kept cold with ice that was also made in the factory. The most memorable deliveries were the horse drawn carts. A big tree sits on the corner of the property now and building is painted in the colours of the Dutch flag . Albert Davey and Keith Davey were the next set of owners for many years. It now has new owners. For old times sake worth a visit.

Korsman Conservancy

This is a non profit organisation of residents that care for Korsman Bird Sanctuary on The Drive, Westdene. It is a natural pan surrounded by an affluent residential area where visitors can sit on park benches and enjoy tranquility that nature offers and listen to various birds singing in the trees.This fenced in pan is idilic. Its a hidden gem in the city, with a circumference of 2,5 kilometres its perfect for joggers, cyclists and those taking a leisurely stroll. Home to over 300 species of birds I was excited to see a black swan. Whats more exciting though are the flamingoes that congregate to spend summer here. For any bird enthusiast the spot is heavenly.

Benoni Town Hall

Opened on the 12 October 1938 it has been closed for refurbishment since 2014. A mecca for touring companies of performers , particularly the Afrikaans theatre companies of the 1930’s and 1940’s the first company to perform there was that of Hendrik Hanekom and Mathilde Hanekom in 1938. Used by the East Rand Theatre Club for its productions after 1944. The town hall is a good example of Art deco architecture. Worth stopping to looking at and the Mansion flats on the next block

Benoni Synagogue

The first synagogue in Benoni, at 26 Woburn Avenue was built in 1908 it soon became to small during the High Holy Day services and in 1930, a new site was purchased for 1000 pounds. Building began in 1932 and in April 1933 , Chief Rabbi Dr JL Landau laid the foundation stone. The second Synagogue was on Park Street and is now St Francis School and the 3rd and much smaller Synagogue is in 128 Woburn avenue next to the medical suites. The first Synagogue is now being used a daycare centre.

Religious buildings

On one block in Woburn avenue you will find no less 6 churches of different denominations. 4 of those are still open for service. St Dunstans Cathedral , an Anglican church open in 1964. Across the road is St Patricks Catholic Church and next door to that is the beautiful Greek Orthodox Church. Around the corner is the beautiful white building, called the White House, no longer a Church it was opened in 1921. Next to the Greek church is St Columbas School which was also a church. My recommendation is to go on a Sunday and park your car under one of the big pine trees as there are many car guards around and take a leisurely stroll and go inside each one and enjoy the beautiful buildings and peace and quiet that one feels.

Greek Orthodox
Greek Orthodox
St Patrick’s Catholic Church
St Dunstan’s Cathedral open 1964

Benoni Central Swimming Pool

The swimming pool was opened on the 19 October 1935 by the Mayor. Messrs Shorten and Cuthbert,who had their workshop at 12 4th street , Northmead where entrusted by the Benoni municipality to build the full size olympic pool. The pool had glazed tiles, a 32 foot high diving tower which was the tallest in the union at the time. This meant that any championship under British and Continental rule could be carried out here. The front is built in Cape Dutch style. The grandstand veranda held about 500 spectators. Nobody could enter the swimming pool or return to the changing booths without passing through a shower and a foot pool. Now where in South Africa could you find a finer pool at the time.

There is so much more to see in the back streets of Benoni. A weekend drive around town will bring back many happy memories.