The compilation of the statement of significance of the road reserve adjacent to erven 163, 168 and 169 situated between North Road, Dunkeld West and Beaufort Avenue, Craighall Park was commissioned by the Craighall Residents’ Association (CRA). The scope and purpose of the assessment is to determine the historical and other significance of the property.
The study does not focus on any specific period and is a record of what could be found about the site during the investigation. The scope of the report does not include an investigation of the archaeological record of the site. The area around the road reserve has been substantially altered with the building of private houses and office blocks. The historical record of the sit has therefore been largely destroyed or impacted on and little is left of the integrity of the ridge.
The location of the ridge could have led to its occupation many thousand years ago by the early inhabitants of the area because of the relatively close proximity of the ridge to water and the uninterrupted views of the surrounding areas. Again, there is a possibility that a blockhouse was built somewhere on the ridge because of the commanding views and the ridge’s proximity to Jan Smuts Avenue, an important route between Johannesburg and Pretoria during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. However, due to the almost complete development of the area, finding evidence of either of the above ‘occupations’ of the ridge is remote.
The significance of an open, undeveloped area in the middle of the city of Johannesburg should not be underestimated and as one open area after another succumbs to large-scale development, the call for the preservation of this small section of ridge with its strikingly tall blue gum trees is justifiable. The road reserve allows access to and from Jan Smuts Avenue and this highlights its social importance to a wide cross section of the public.
The eucalyptus or gum trees in Johannesburg are recognised as a living heritage that were a product of attempts by the early inhabitants of Johannesburg to improve their surrounding landscape that was largely treeless and windswept. In addition, the gum trees are closely associated with the mining industry that could not survive without the timber provided by the trees.
For these reasons it is the opinion of the writer that the Road Reserve is of some historical, social and natural significance.
UNDERSTANDING THE PLACE
PRE-HISTORY OF THE TRANSVAAL AND JOHANNESBURG:
Records relating specifically to the prehistory of Craighall Park area are scant. There is, however, some information regarding the prehistory of the area previously known as the