In response, Beverly Williams, the Assistant Curator of the museum indicated that there were no records that referred specifically to the location of blockhouses in Johannesburg. She makes mention of a sketch map that shows blockhouse lines and posts at the end of March 1902 which does not show the presence of blockhouses in Johannesburg. The map shows blockhouses to the west of Johannesburg, viz., Maraisburg and Roodepoort and to the east of Johannesburg, viz. Elsburg, Boksburg, Brakpan and Springs. 10
A copy of a sketch map was found in the South African Military History Museum by the writer that maps the location of several blockhouses between Johannesburg and Pretoria. T h e l o c a t i o n o f t h e b l o c k h o u s e s , h o w e v e r , a p p e a r s t o b e o u t s i d e J o h a n n e s b u r g , a s w e know it today. 1 1
The remains of a blockhouse in Parktown, the so-called Stonehouse Blockhouse, were found on Parktown ridge and this indicates that blockhouses were built in and around Johannesburg. On the same property where this blockhouse was situated, Sir Herbert Baker built the dwelling aptly named Stonehouse in 1902. The house is a declared local heritage site. He describes the property when he purchased it accordingly “there was nothing on it but a blockhouse and barbed wire. It overlooked a young plantation of fir and gum trees; and … to the distant faint blue Magaliesberg Mountains, ‘ramparts of slaughter and peril’ where the war still raged.” 12
According to Dennis Adams, Parktown historian, no evidence of the Stonehouse b l o c k h o u s e s t i l l e x i s t s e x c e p t f o r a p l a q u e t h a t m a r k s t h e s p o t w h e r e t h e b l o c k h o u s e w a s situated. 1 3
Reference is made to the building of blockhouses to secure the old Pretoria road (now Jan Smuts Avenue) after the British occupied Johannesburg in 1900. According to a centenary history of Parktown, Lord Roberts marched into Johannesburg (on 31 May 1 9 0 0 ) a n d d e c l a r e d m a r t i a l l a w . B l o c k h o u s e s w e r e e r e c t e d o n t h e r i d g e s t o g u a r d t h e o l d Pretoria Road (Jan Smuts Avenue). 1 4
The location of the road reserve ridge so close to Jan Smuts Avenue may have resulted in the building of a blockhouse on the ridge but no recorded evidence could be found to verify this apart from a reference by Edgar F. Droste, a resident of North Road. In a note or letter, he states that “originally, in the near vicinity [of the road reserve], there was a block house [sic] from the Boer War”.15 In the same letter it is mentioned that remains of the blockhouse were still visible 45 years ago. However, in light of the fact that much of the ridge is developed, the likelihood of finding these remains are remote.
10 11 12 13 14 15
Email correspondence with Beverly Williams dd 12-08-2005 Manuscript C248. Blockhouse System in South Africa. South African Military History Museum. Introducing Sir Herbert Baker by Cecil Graham & Flo Bird, SAHRA file 3/1/3/Joh/1/3 Conservation with Dennis Adams, 16 August 2005 Parktown Century Souvenir, 1892-1992. Parktown & Westcliff Heritage Trust, p 92. Undated letter addressed to Dudley Aitken titled The North Road Koppie.