Franco Frescura

1806: Sir John Barrow indicated on a map that gold was to be found in the approximate vicinity of          either the Witwatersrand or the Magaliesberge.
1852: Gold was found near Krugersdorp.
1853: PJ Marais found small quantities of alluvial gold in the Jukskey River.
1884, September: Fred Struben found the Confidence Reef on the farm Wilgespruit, north of          present-day Roodepoort.
1886, April 12: George Walker and George Harrison obtained permission to prospect for gold on          the farm Langlaagte owned by Gert C Oosthuizen.
1886, July 24: Harrison signed an affidavit to Kruger announcing the discovery of payable gold on          the Witwatersrand.
1886, September: Captain Carl von Brandis appointed Mining Commissioner for the         Witwatersrand.
1886, September 8: Public diggings are declared on the farms Driefontein, Elandsfontein,         Turffontein, Langlaagte, Randjeslaagte, Roodepoort, Paardekraal and Vogelstrusfontein.
1886, September 14: The first large mining company on the Rand, the Witwatersrand Gold         Mining Company Limited, better known as Knights, was formed with a capital of £210,000.
1886, October 4: Randjeslaagte proclaimed as a village of stands. The name Johannesburg was         used for the first time the previous day.
1886, November 8: Election of first Digger’s Committee.
1886, December 8: Auction sale of the first stands to become available in the Johannesburg          central area.
1886-1887: The first fuel and water shortages were to take place during this period.
1887: During this year the original Digger’s Committee was replaced by a Sanitary Board.
1887, February: President Kruger visits Johannesburg for the first time. Official market is opened          on Market Square.
1887, February 24: The first Johannesburg newspaper, The Diggers News, is published for the           first time.
1887, April: First telegraph office opened in Johannesburg.
1887, June: Second sale of stands on the site of the now-abandoned mining claims in the central          city area, between Bree and Pritchard Streets. At this stage it was realized that the stands          north of Bree Street had been laid out using the Cape Foot as a unit of measure, while the          stands south of Pritchard Street used the shorter English Foot.
1887, July: The Johannesburg Waterworks Estate and Exploration Company Ltd was established           with a capital of £40,000.
1887, October 17: The Eastern Star, later known as The Star, was first published in          Johannesburg, having been relocated by its owners from Grahamstown. Today it is the          only survivor of the mining camp’s early newspapers.
1888: Formation of the Johannesburg Lighting Company. First telephones installed on the Rand          by Hubert Davies.
1888, January 16: First Johannesburg Exchange opened by JW Sauer.
1888, March 15: Creation of the first Hospital Board.
1888, June 23: Piped water delivery to homes turned on for the first time.
1889: Shortages of food take place, only relieved after massive food deliveries take place from the          coast.
1889, March 23: Founding of Wanderer’s Club.
1889, April: Sigmund Neumann obtains a concession from the ZAR Government to establish a          tramway system network.
1889, June: The first postal pillar box erected in Johannesburg.
1890, March 17: The Rand steam train to Boksburg was inaugurated. Later on this was extended          to Krugersdorp in the west and to Springs in the east.
1890, May: The MacArthur-Forrest cyanide process of gold extraction is introduced, thus giving a          new lease of life to the gold mines, whose surface diggings had begun to run out.
1890, November: The first Hospital building is opened by JMA Wolmarans, a member of the          Executive Committee of the ZAR.
1891: Six kilometers of tramway track were opened in Johannesburg with a terminus located in          Fordsburg. The first units were horse-drawn, but were replaced by electrically powered          trams in 1906. In July 1904 control of the Tramway Company passed to the Johannesburg          Municipality.
May 16: First recorded fall of snow in Johannesburg.
May 28: A swarm of locust descended upon Johannesburg.
June 11: The first telephone line came into operation, linking Johannesburg to Pretoria.
1892, June 23: The Johannesburg Gasworks, located at the lower end of President Street, began          production. This plant was in operation until 1920 when new works were completed at          Cottesloe.
1892, September 14: The first train from the Cape reached Johannesburg.
1893, February: Outbreak of smallpox epidemic in Johannesburg. The incidence of the disease          increased steadily from April onwards and only began to play itself out towards the end of          the year.
1894, February 8: A bye-law was passed prohibiting "Natives" from using the Johannesburg city's          pavements.
1894, November 2: The railway line linking Johannesburg to Lourenco Marques was opened.
1895, March 13: The first Witwatersrand Agricultural Show was held in Johannesburg.
1895, October: Severe water shortages were experienced from March onwards. Restrictions were          imposed in Johannesburg on 23 October. The drought was broken on 6 November.
1895, December 16: The railway line linking Johannesburg to Durban was opened.
1895, December 29: Jameson's raiders crossed the Transvaal-Bechuanaland border.
1896, January 2: Jameson’s party was defeated at Doornkop and he was captured together with          most of his troops.
1896, February 19: A shunting locomotive reversed into two railway trucks containing 1955 tons          of dynamite on a siding in Braamfontein. The resultant explosion leveled the nearby          residential areas of Braamfontein, Vrededorp, Fordsburg and the Malay Location. After a          week of clearing up, 78 bodies and four boxes of human remains were recovered. One of          the oft-voiced grievances of the Uitlander community against the Kruger Government was          the existence of a "Dynamite Monopoly". This was awarded to a German, Edward Lippert,          who obtained sole concession from the ZAR to manufacture dynamite locally. In fact the          dynamite was not local, being imported from Germany. It was also not of a high quality,          being very unstable. Johannesburg's "Great Dynamite Explosion", as it became known,          only served to emphasize Uitlander complaints.
1896, May: The Rinderpest spread to Johannesburg, and its district was declared an infected area. This was followed soon after by a plague of locusts.
1896, November: The first house-to-house postal delivery service was instituted in Johannesburg.
1897, January. The first motorcar drives through Johannesburg. The Johannesburg Fort was           opened. "Nkosi Sikelel'i Afrika" was composed by Enoch Sontonga.
1897, September: The Sanitary Board was replaced by a Town Council which, together with its           Burgomaster, was nominated by the ZAR. Johannesburg was raised to the status of a           town.
1898, June 30: The new Rissik Street Post Office was opened.
1899, October 11: Outbreak of hostilities between Britain and the ZAR.
1900, April 25: Johannesburg was shaken by a large explosion, as the local plant of Begbie's Iron           Foundry was sabotaged. This was an important contributor to the Republican War effort.
1900, May 31: Johannesburg surrendered to the British when Dr Friederick Krause, Military          Commandant of the Witwatersrand, handed the keys of the town to Field Marshal Lord          Roberts. Dr Krause was also responsible for preventing the destruction of the gold mines          shortly before the British take-over.
1901: The first British-nominated Johannesburg Town Council took office.
1902, May 31: A peace treaty was signed at Pretoria, officially bringing hostilities to an end.
1902, September 22: The Rand Daily Mail was printed for the first time. A Sanitary Commission          was appointed to investigate the area known as the "Brickfields". The area of          Johannesburg was increased from 5 to 75.5 square miles.
1903, May: The Rand Water Board was established
1903, November: Elections were held for Johannesburg's first Municipal Council. The           Johannesburg Insanitary Area Improvement Scheme Commission tabled its report. This           led to the expropriation of the area now known as Newtown. The area of Johannesburg           was increased to 81.5 square miles.
1904, March 19: An outbreak of bubonic plague at the Johannesburg Brickfields led to the           removal of its residents to Klipspruit. In 1934 the latter became known as Pimville, and          formed the core of what was to become Soweto.
1904, June 22: The first indentured Chinese labourers arrived at the New Comet mine.
1904, July: Control of the Tramway Company passed to the Johannesburg Municipality.
1905, August: The Johannesburg Town Council imposed a speed limit of 10mph in the business          centre. The Native Affairs Commission criticized the living conditions that Johannesburg's          Black citizens were forced to live under.
1906: Pass Laws for Indians promulgated in the Transvaal.
1906, February 14: Johannesburg's horse-drawn trams were replaced by electrically powered          units. These ran for the first time from Market Square to the Siemert Road railway bridge.
1907, February 20: Elections held for the first Transvaal Parliament.
1907, March 23: The worst locust plague in recorded times reached Johannesburg.
1908: Indigency Commission criticized living conditions of Johannesburg's Black citizens.
1909: The Johannesburg Municipal Commission urged that surveyed land be made available to          "natives and other non-Europeans".
1910, March: Repatriation of last group of indentured Chinese miners.
1910, May 31: The Union of South Africa came into being despite the strong objections of           representatives of the Black community to their exclusion from constitutional proceedings.
1911, January 21: Johannesburg's tramway workers reporting for the morning shift refused to           begin services. This was the first of many labour disputes which culminated in the General           Strike of 1922.
1912, January 8: The South African Native National Congress was formed in Bloemfontein. It          subsequently changed its name to the African National Congress.
1913, May: White miners declared a strike at the New Kleinfontein mine. Industrial action spread          and by July the miners were preparing to declare a general strike.
1913, July 4: A strike meeting was called in Market Square. The Government attempted to           prohibit the gathering after it had begun and scuffles broke out between police and miners.          The police were severely assaulted after strikers attacked them with stones. Workers then          attempted to close the tramways, the power station and the railways. Park Station was          attacked and partly burnt down. The offices of The Star, a strongly pro-management           newspaper, were similarly attacked and gutted by fire.
1913, July 5: Unrest continued with minor clashes taking place at various points of the town's           centre. By this stage strikers were beginning to arm themselves and a number of shooting           took place Generals Botha and Smuts intervened personally and arranged for a truce           subsequent to which many of the strikers' demands were met.
1914, January 8: The Railwaymen's Union orders strike.
1914, January 9: Attempted sabotage of the Cape mail train.
1914, January 13: A general strike declared. The Union Government placed the Johannesburg           district under Martial Law.
1914, January 15: Trade Union leaders and members, who had gathered at the Union Hall, were          surrendered to Government troops armed with a twelve-pounder field gun. The strike          collapsed and many of the leaders were forcibly placed aboard a mail-ship at Cape Town          and illegally deported to Britain.
1914, August 5: Outbreak of World War I.
1914, October 12: Outbreak of the so-called "Boer Rebellion". Union forces rapidly subdued the           insurrection.
1915, January 26: Johannesburg’s new Town Hall was used for the first time.
1915, December 21: Strike of 2800 Black miners at the Van Rhyn Deep Mine.
1917: Johannesburg Town Council rented a disused mine compound from the Salisbury Jubilee          Mine. This was converted to a hostel for 1000 men, and later became known as the Mai          Mai Bazaar.
1918, May: Bucket strike by Black sanitary workers. As a result 152 strikers were arrested and          sentenced to two months hard labour for breach of contract under the “Masters and          Servants Act”. The ANC launched a labour campaign and threatened to organize a General          Strike. Sanitary workers released.
1918, May 11: White municipal workers at the Johannesburg Power Station went out on strike          but their dispute was soon settled.
1918, September 27: The outbreak of the Spanish influenza epidemic became critical. Beginning          on the mines, it soon spread to the whole city and on 8 October alone there had been 69          burials at Brixton Cemetery. In Johannesburg, the Black community was particularly          affected by this disease.
1918, November 11: An armistice was signed, bringing to an end World War I. Establishment of          Western Native Township on a site previously used as a brickfield and a refuse dump.
1919: 70,000 Black miners went out on a peaceful strike. Government troops broke up workers'          meetings, killing 11 persons.
1919, February 1: White building trade workers went out on strike.
1919, March 29: White power station workers went out on strike.
1919, March 31: White municipal workers went out on strike. The Johannesburg Town Council          set up a Provisional Board of Control dominated by the Labour Party and its sympathizers.          This Board then took over the effective running of the town's government.
1919, April 1: The strike called off.
1919, April 6: A settlement was reached. The Board of Control passed out of existence.
1920, January: Black miners went out on strike. Riots broke out.
1920, February 29: Black workers rioted near Vrededorp.
1920, May 4: White tramway workers went out on strike.
1920, May 21: The tramway strike ended.
1922, January 2: White coal miners go out on strike.
1922, January 9: White miners' strike formally declared following intermittent disputes in 1921.
1922, January 19: Tramway service reduced to minimum following a shortage of coal supplies           necessary for the running of the Johannesburg Power Station.
1922, February 27: Coal supply at Power Station exhausted. "Scab" coal brought in, and, as a           result, White Power Station workers immediately downed tools. Strike-breakers move in           under police protection.
1922, March 7: General Strike called by Council of Action. Workers march under banners           proclaiming "Workers of the World Unite and Fight for a White South Africa".
1922, March 9: Active Citizen's regiments and Burger commandos called up.
1922, March 10: Martial Law declared. Attacks take place on Reef police stations and mines.          Strikers ambush detachment of the Transvaal Scottish Regiment at Ellis Park resulting in          the death of thirteen soldiers. Newlands and Fordsburg police stations occupied by          strikers' commandos.
1922, March 12: Strikers on Brixton Ridge and in the Brixton School shelled by Government          troops located on Jan Smuts Avenue.
1922, March 14: Fordsburg falls. Strike leaders Fisher and Spendiff commit suicide. The Rand          Rebellion is crushed.
1922, March 17: Strike officially called off.
1922, October 4: University of the Witwatersrand inaugurated.
1923, December 18: First official radio broadcast in Johannesburg. Passing of the Native (Urban          Areas) Act which forced local authorities to take responsibility for the housing of Black          citizens living and working in their areas.
1924: Work was begun on extensions to Western Native Township, involving an additional 1000          houses. This project was completed in 1927.
1925, June 22: The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, visited Johannesburg.
1926: Work was begun on the Wemmer Barracks Hostel to accommodate 2000 men. This was           completed in 1928. Eastern Native Township was established.
1927: The Johannesburg Town Council appointed Graham Ballenden as Manager of Native           Affairs. Prior to this the housing of the Black community was a function of the town's           Parks Department.
1927, March: The first traffic lights were installed in Johannesburg.
1928, September 5: Johannesburg accorded city status. Johannesburg Council appointed a           Committee to deal with Native Affairs.
1930: The number of houses built at Western and Eastern Townships now reached a total of          2625. In terms of an amendment to the Native (Urban Areas) Act, additional powers were          granted to Local Authorities in regard to the housing of Blacks. The Johannesburg City          Council acquired 1300 morgen on the Farm Klipspruit No 8 for the purpose of building          housing for Blacks. This purchase was made during the so-called Depression, when there          were still vacant houses at Western Native Township. A competition was held for the          planning of a township designed to accommodate 80,000 persons. The township was          called Orlando after the then Chairman of the Native Affairs Committee, Orlando Leake. At          this time many Blacks were living in such places as Newclare, Sophiatown, Martindale          and Prospect Township, in heavily overcrowded conditions.
1931, September 21: Britain abandoned the gold standard. The gold price rose.
1932, December 27: The Union of South Africa abandoned the gold standard.
1933: Municipal water supply provided to Newclare.
1934: Klipspruit Location renamed Pimville.
1935: Twenty-seven water taps installed in Sophiatown where water was sold by the bucket. The          Murray Thornton Commission criticized Johannesburg's Public Health Department for its          failure to prevent or remedy the "fearful squalor" in such areas as Prospect Township, the          Malay Location, Sophiatown, Newclare and Martindale. By the end of this year 3000          houses had been built in Orlando.
1937, April 9: Following the dramatic fall in the value of gold shares on the JSE many businesses         and individuals went bankrupt. This day later came to be known as "Black Friday".
1939: The total number of houses for Blacks provided by the Johannesburg City Council reached          8700. A total of 6912 beds were also provided in Municipal single sex hostels.
1939, September 6: South Africa declared war on Germany, three days after Britain. During the          next five years influx control regulations were relaxed. Growing opportunities for work          attracted many rural Black families, including their children, to Johannesburg. Owing to a          scarcity of funds, only 873 new houses were built and a further 358 beds were provided in          hostels. As a result informal settlements began to spring up around Johannesburg. It was          estimated that, eventually, up to 60,000 people were housed in such areas.
1944: 4042 breeze block shelters were erected in an area known as "Shantytown", located           between Orlando East and Orlando West.
1946: The Moroka Emergency Camp was laid out, providing 11,000 sites, 6x6m in size.           Elementary services were also laid out.
1946, August 12-19: An estimated 100,000 Black miners went out on strike on the          Witwatersrand. Hundreds are estimated to have been killed by subsequent police action.
1947: Attempts were made to close down Johannesburg's informal settlements. Baragwanath          Hospital was taken over to serve the needs of the Black community.
1948, May: 1800 patients were moved to Baragwanath Hospital from the Johannesburg General          Hospital. The Nationalist Party gained a majority of elected members in the Union          Parliament.
1949, September 19: The gold price rose by 44%.
1950, May 1: The ANC called for a general strike. The police killed 18 persons in Alexandra.
1951: The Bantu Building Workers Act was passed.
1953: The Bantu Services Levy Act and the Bantu Transport Services Levy Act was passed. The          Site and Service Scheme was started. In Johannesburg 35,000 sites 12x21m each were          surveyed. The Mentz Committee recommended that Pimville should be reserved as a         "White Group Area".
1954: The Johannesburg Municipality created the Housing Division as a separate department,           with AJ Archibald as its first Director. Johannesburg submitted an application to the Bantu           Services Levy Fund for finances to build a direct access road to Soweto. The South           African Railways who, at the time, held a monopoly on transport to this area, opposed this           application.
1955: A Resettlement Board was formed to undertake removal of Blacks from Johannesburg's           western areas. This followed the Johannesburg City Council’s refusal to approve the           removal of freehold land rights from property owners in Sophiatown.
1955, February: Over 60,000 persons living in Johannesburg's western areas, including           Sophiatown, were removed from their homes at gun-point, in a massive military-style           operation, and were resettled in an area which has since become known as Soweto.           Sophiatown was razed to the ground and, having been renamed "Triumph", was given over          to White, predominantly Afrikaner, low-income housing.
1955, June 26: The Congress of the People met at Kliptown and adopted the Freedom Charter.
1956: Johannesburg Mining Houses, headed by the Anglo-American Corporation, loaned the           Johannesburg City Council R6m to provide houses for people living in the Moroka and           Shantytown informal settlements. These funds proved sufficient to build 14,000 homes,           and the residents of Moroka and Shantytown were subsequently resettled there.
1957: The ANC organized the Alexandra Bus Boycott campaign.
1957, September 15: Riots took place in Dube.
1958: The Mentz "Watch-Dog" Committee was appointed.
1960: Minister De Wet Nel agreed to retain Pimville as a Black suburb.
1960, March 21: Some 69 residents of Sharpeville, a Black residential suburb near Vereeniging,          were massacred by police during a PAC protest meeting. The Tomlinson Commission was          appointed. Its findings provided the intellectual and ideological underpinning for subsequent          Nationalist attempts to implement a policy of "ethnic homelands".
1960, March 30: A nationwide State of Emergency declared. The ANC and PAC were banned.
1961, May 31: South Africa became a Republic.
1962: "European" liquor became available legally to the Black community.
1964: After years of prevarication, permission was finally granted for the construction of a direct          access road to Soweto on condition that no public transport would be allowed upon it. This          application had been pending for some 10 years. The Tomlinson Commission report was          published.
1967: A second loan of R750,000 was made by Johannesburg Mining Houses to the City           Council, this time for the re-housing of Pimville tenants.
1968: The Bantu Administration Department ruled that no further 30 year leases should be           granted.
1973, July 1: The West Rand Administration Board took over control and the day-to-day           administration of Soweto from the Johannesburg City Council's NEAD.
1976, June 16: School-children initiate the Soweto uprising. Over 1000 people were killed in the           clashes which ensued between citizens and police.


This Diary of Historical Dates was the result of research conducted into the history of Johannesburg during the 1970s and 1980s. It has never been published on its own, but has been used as an appendix to other papers on the Apartheid City. It is offered here for the use and convenience of researchers.

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