Johannesburg Timeline 1800-1991

Table of Contents:

1806
Sir John Barrow indicates on a map that gold is to be found in the approximate vicinity of either the Witwatersrand or the Magaliesberge.
1852
Gold is found near Krugersdorp.
1853
PJ Marais finds small quantities of alluvial gold in the Jukskei River.
1884
September, Fred Struben finds the Confidence Reef on the farm Wilgespruit north of present-day Roodepoort.
1886
12 April, George Walker and George Harrison obtain permission to prospect for gold on the farm Langlaagte, owned by Gert C. Oosthuizen.
5 July, Prospecting licenses are taken out on 36 claims in the centre of Randjeslaagte.
24 July, Harrison signs an affidavit to Kruger announcing the discovery of payable gold on the Witwatersrand.
16 August, J.E De Villiers applies for post of Mining Commissioner and Claims Inspector. He also separately applies for the job of laying out a new mining village.
September, Captain Carl von Brandis is appointed Mining Commissioner for the Witwatersrand.
8 September, Public diggings are declared on the farms Driefontein, Elandsfontein, Turffontein, Langlaagte, Randjeslaagte, Roodepoort, Paardekraal and Vogelstrusfontein.
13 September, F.C Eloff, Presidential Private Secretary, is instructed to visit the goldfields.
14 September, The first large mining company on the Rand, the Witwatersrand Gold Mining Company Limited, better known as Knights, is formed with a capital of £210, 000.
14 September, Jos E. de Villiers completes a survey of Block B, Langlaagte on behalf of JB Robinson.
27 September, Von Brandis proclaims the farms Doornfontein and Turffontein as public diggings, and announces that a tender had been called for the setting out of 600 stands.
3 October , Mining Commissioner Von Brandis requests clarification from Pretoria as to the allocation of dwelling stands to miners on farms other than Randjeslaagte. The State Attorney advises that this is the task of the Mining Commissioner.
3 October, Mining Commissioner von Brandis writes to Pretoria confirming that the Surveyor General had sent him a plan of the stands to be laid out, and that the name of the village is to be Johannesburg.
4 October, Mining Commissioner Von Brandis announces that the survey of a new village is to proceed and that the plan would be made public once a copy had been received.
Randjeslaagte is proclaimed as a village of stands. The name Johannesburg was used for the first time the previous day.
5 October, Tenders to survey the new mining village come before the Executive Council of the ZAR (Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek). The De Villiers tender for the setting out of 600 stands at 10s each is accepted. On the same day, Johann Rissik, Acting Surveyor General, issues De Villiers with a portion of the plan, including instructions that the government offices are to be located on one of the squares.  
Prospecting licences on 36 claims in the centre of Johannesburg are changed for diggers’s licences.
19 October, De Villiers begins the survey of stands on Randjeslaagte. The task is completed on 3 November, and a report is presented on 5 November. At this time his survey includes 748 stands in two consolidated areas north and south of the mining claims. By 8 December this number had increased to 986.
1 November, Petition is signed by HJ Morket and 100 others, objecting to sale of a stand on a preferential basis.
4 November, Von Brandis suggests that preferential rights to each stand be sold for 5 to 10 years with a monthly rental of 10s; Jan Eloff asks for a proclamation prohibiting digging on Randjeslaagte. He is told that he might put such a notice in his office, but could not take away licenses already paid for. A Special Landdrost is appointed for Johannesburg.
8 November, The election of the first Diggers’s Committee takes place.
9 November, The ZAR Government announces the sale of preferential rights to stands for 5 years. This is scheduled to take place on Thursday 18 November in front of the Mining Commissioners’s office.
17 November, Government abandons the sale of stands on a preferential basis and changes the condition to a 99-year lease. The sale of stands is postponed to Wednesday 8 December.
29 November, J.B Kaufman and 20 others peg claims on the site of the village and tender £21 to Jan Eloff, in payment for licenses to mine the site. They object to the sale of stands embracing any of these claims.
7 December, Government defines the area of Johannesburg as the entire area of ground formerly known as Randjeslaagte.
8 December, First sale of stands in Johannesburg, including No 469, purchased for £10.17.6. Subsequent stands went for £10.10 and after the first 25 had been sold, the stands about Market Square come up. At this point, the bidding begins to find its feet with TW Beckett of Pretoria paying £1065 for a block of five stands. Most stands go for between £200 and £280 each. Sales continue until the Friday by which stage some stands were fetching barely more than 3s each, with about 50 stands remaining unsold. All told, the proceeds of the sale realize about £13, 000.
13 December, P.J Meintjes, acting on behalf of the holders of the three amalgamated blocks of 12 claims each, which had formed themselves into a group called the “Randjeslaagte Syndicate”, writes to President Kruger pointing out that their property contains payable gold deposits.
23 December, The Mining Commissioner is instructed to issue trading licences for Johannesburg in same way as for other villages.
29 December, Meintjes proposes to the Government that the survey of the mining land should be on the same basis and scale as the two parts of the village on either side, with the same streets and at least two squares of the same size as the others.
27 January, Meintjes also proposes that the middle of the large square should be set aside for government, and that each church community be given a block of 12 stands each. The auctioneers are to be the Pretoria Auction Agency.
1886-1887
The first fuel and water shortages take place during this period.
1887
The original Diggers’s Committee is replaced by a concurrent Sanitary Board.
February, President Kruger visits Johannesburg for the first time. An official market is opened on Market Square.
18 January, Bok replies to Meintjes, agreeing to the appointment of the auctioneers, but stating that, in line with previous decisions, each religious denomination could only be granted one stand free of the payment of a stand license.
24 February, The first Johannesburg newspaper, The Diggers News, is published.
April, At the beginning of the month, WH Auret Pritchard prepares two plans for the central land, one for the auctioneer, the other for the Mining Commissioner.
April, the first telegraph office is opened in Johannesburg.
1 June, Second sale of land in Johannesburg takes place, on the site of the now-abandoned mining claims in the central city area, between Bree and Pritchard Streets, with a minimum price set at £1.10s per stand.
July, the Johannesburg Waterworks Estate and Exploration Company Ltd is established with a capital of £40, 000.
17 October, The Eastern Star, later known as The Star, is first published in Johannesburg, having been relocated by its owners from Grahamstown. Today it is the only survivor of the mining camps’s early newspapers.
1888
The Johannesburg Lighting Company is formed, and the first telephones are installed on the Rand by Hubert Davies.
16 January, The first Johannesburg Exchange is opened by J.W Sauer.
15 March, The first Hospital Board is created.
23 June, Piped water delivery to homes is turned on for the first time.
1889
 Shortages of food are only relieved after massive food deliveries take place from the coast.
23 March, Wandererss’s Club is founded.
April, Sigmund Neumann obtains a concession from the ZAR Government to establish a tramway system network.
June, The first postal pillar box is erected in Johannesburg.
1890
17 March, The rand steam train to Boksburg is inaugurated. Later on, this is extended to Krugersdorp in the west and to Springs in the east.
May, Thethe MacArthur-Forrest cyanide process of gold extraction is introduced, thus which givesing a new lease of life to the gold mines, whose surface diggings had begun to run out..
November, The first Hospital building is opened by J.M.A Wolmarans, a member of the Executive Committee of the ZAR Volksraad.
1891
Six kilometres of tramway track are opened in Johannesburg with a terminus located in Fordsburg. The first units are horse-drawn, but are later replaced by electrically powered trams in 1906. In July 1904, control of the Tramway Company passed to the Johannesburg Municipality.
16 May, First recorded fall of snow in Johannesburg.
28 May, A swarm of locust descended upon Johannesburg.
11 June, The first telephone line linking Johannesburg to Pretoria came into operation.
1892
23 June, The Johannesburg Gasworks, located at the lower end of President Street, begins production. This plant is in operation until 1920 when new works are completed at Cottesloe.
14 September, The first train from the Cape reaches Johannesburg.
1893
February, An outbreak of a smallpox epidemic affects those living in Johannesburg. The incidence of the disease increases steadily from April onwards and only begins to play itself out towards the end of the year.
1894
8 February, A bye-law is passed prohibiting ‘Nativess’ from using the Johannesburg city's pavements.
2 November, The railway line linking Johannesburg to Lourenco Marques was opened.
1895
13 March, The first Witwatersrand Agricultural Show was held in Johannesburg.
 October, Severe water shortages are experienced from March onwards. Restrictions are imposed in Johannesburg on 23 October, and the drought is broken on 6 November.
16 December, The railway line linking Johannesburg to Durban is opened.
29 December, Jameson's raiders cross the Transvaal-Bechuanaland border. They are intercepted by Republican forces at Doornkop on 2 January 1896, and after a brief skirmish he, together with most of his troops, is taken prisoner.
1896
19 February, A shunting locomotive reverses into two railway trucks containing 1955 tons of dynamite on a siding in Braamfontein. The resultant explosion, later known as the ‘Great Dynamite Explosionss’, levels the nearby residential areas of Braamfontein, Vrededorp, Fordsburg and the Malay Location.
May, The rinderpest epidemic, which affected livestock, spreads to Johannesburg, and its district is declared an infected area. This was followed soon after by a second plague of locusts.
November, The first house-to-house postal delivery service is instituted in Johannesburg.
1897
January, The first motorcar drives through Johannesburg, the Johannesburg Fort is opened and Nkosi Sikelel 'iAfrika is composed by Enoch Sontonga.
September, the Sanitary Board is replaced by a Town Council which, together with its Burgomaster, is nominated by the ZAR. Johannesburg is then raised to the status of a town.
1898
June 30, The new Rissik Street Post Office is opened.
1899
11 October, there is an outbreak of hostilities between Britain and the ZAR.