Pietermaritzburg

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Andries Pretorius House

The newest addition to the Voortrekker Museum complex is the reconstructed thatched-roof double-story house of Andries Pretorius, the victor of Blood River. It was originally built at Edendale, near the city, in 1846 on the farm "Welverdient" (which means Well Deserved). The farm was presented to Pretorius by the grateful Trekker community. The reconstructed house was opened in December 1981.

Bandstand

The bandstand alongside the Oval in the Park was built in 1892 from funds subscribed by the citizens to commemorate the service of British military units at Fort Napier. The roof features the "chinoiserie" of Far-Eastern architecture which shaped roofs like a mandarin’s hat. This is believed to be the only bandstand of its kind in South Africa. It was officially opened on June 4, 1892, by the Mayor at that time, Mr. C.P. Mason.  

City Hall

The present City Hall was built on the site of the Volksraadsaal of the Voortrekkers and completed in 1900. On June 6, 1969, the Pietermaritzburg City Hall was declared a National Monument.

It is notable for its fine stained-glass windows and domes and, according to Ripley’s "Believe it or not!" is the largest all-brick building south of the Equator.

One of the most important features of the City Hall is the clock tower, which rises majestic 47 metes from the pavement to the finial at the top of the tower. The clock itself is a Westminster 4/4 chime Tower Clock and was manufactured by Gillette and Johnston of Croydon, England.

It began to keep track of time on June 16, 1900, at precisely the same hour of the day as its predecessor, which stopped; due to a fire on July 12, 1898 when the first City Hall was destroyed. The dials of the clock are on the fifth storey of the tower and the 12 city bells are in the belfry above.

The first chime of each hour denotes the correct time. Gillette and Johnston also manufactured the carillon in the belfry of the clock tower. It is an automatic machine similar to a music box and has a repertoire of several tunes. The carillon can also be rung by an experienced bell-ringer, as the bells are fitted with a set of 12 smaller hammers on the inside, with ropes attached. Brindley and Foster built the magnificent organ in 1901, replacing the original pipe organ destroyed in the 1898 blaze.

The second organ, reputed to be one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, was modernised in 1975 and equipped with a mobile console, making it one of the finest in the world.  

Clark House

Built in 1885, Clark House was named after the famous headmaster of Maritzburg College, R.D. Clark, and was at first known as the "Main Building". The building was designed by Philip Dudgeon (who also designed the Standard Bank in Church Street) and was described as "the best example of Collegiate Gothic in Natal and of local brick and tiles". Proclaimed a national monument in 1975.

This part of the college was used as a military hospital during the Anglo-Boer War. Alongside the building, the original sentry box can be seen. daniel lindley plaque Just to the right of Natalia’s main entrance is a large plaque erected in 1974 by the Natal Provincial Administration and the National Monuments Council. It marks the spot where the house of the Rev. Daniel Lindley stood.

Lindley was an American missionary who became the first ordained minister to the Voortrekkers in Natal. His house was built for him by the Church Council of the Dutch Reformed Church in 1842. Lindley preached to the Voortrekker community in Pietermaritzburg at the Church of the Vow from 1840 to 1847.

Dudgeon's Standard Bank

The Standard Bank building on the corner of Church and Bank Streets was designed by Philip Dudgeon (1852-1891). Considered his personal masterpiece, it was modeled on the Bank of Ireland in Belfast and has a hint of Palladian influence in its classical design.

A feature of the bank, built in 1882, is its stained-glass windows depicting the four seasons in the Northern Hemisphere – a famous faux pas!

Edgars

Edgars Stores, formerly Irelands, was built in 1866 and was at the centre of conservation controversy in 1978 when developers wanted to demolish the fine Victorian shopfront. Eventually, a compromise was reached and the developers restored the magnificent façade and built a modern shop and offices behind it. Complementing the cast-iron lacework of the veranda is the rosewood-and-brass on the doors and windows, and a red-brick turret over the entrance. C.H. Stott designed this landmark building in 1865. fine victorian building A high character Victorian building with a veranda over the sidewalk on two sides supported by cast-iron columns. The main gable facing Chapel Street is decorated in the "Magpie" Tudor Style. The date 1901 appears on a pane ion the first floor of the Pietermaritz Street elevation. fine victorian house This Victorian house was proclaimed a National Monument in 1984. It is a double-storey building with veranda and balcony in the Classical Revival style. The veranda and balcony have delicate cast-iron columns and brackets, and an ornamental cast-iron balustrade. It also features a third-floor solarium with half-round headed windows. fine victorian villa This double-story veranda house is the headquarters of the S.A. Timber and Wattle Growers’ Association, but has not lost its 19th century charm. It features decorative cast-iron columns, brackets, balusters and drip frets. This former Victorian villa of much distinction contributes greatly to the built environment of the city.

First National Bank

On the corner of Bank Street is the distinctive dome of the First National Bank, built in 1910 and formerly the Natal Bank of colonial days. The oldest section of the building dates back to 1858. It features red-brick walls, a tiled roof and an octagonal dome over the splayed corner entrance. fort napier Dates back to 1843 when it was the British military headquarters in Natal. Interesting artillery pieces are mounted in the grounds. The mess hall, complete with clock tower, was erected "temporarily" after being transported from India in 1899 during the South African War. A fine example of a wood-and-iron structure of the period. The military cemetery, dating back to the earliest military occupation of the 1840’s contains the grave of Lieutenant-Colonel Anthony Durnford, who died in the battle of Isandhlwana (1879) while commanding the No. 2 Column. Near the lynchgate at the entrance is an impressive World War II section with military crests on the headstones.

Harwin's Arcade

This is a high-character Edwardian building (1904) designed in the Renaissance Revival style. The Timber Street main frontage features red-brick with ornate plaster mouldings. Twin gables with Romanesque decorations flank the central bay-fronted turret above the cast-iron entrance gates. A skyline runs the length of the arcade. The balustrade leading to the first floor is exquisitely carved.

Hitching Rails

Several century-old hitching rails dot the city to remind tourists and residents of Pietermaritzburg’s romantic and leisurely past. One is outside the Imperial Hotel in Loop Street, where France’s Prince Imperial stayed before he was killed in the Zulu War of 1879; one outside the Longmarket Street entrance of the Natal Witness (the oldest newspaper in South Africa); one near the entrance to the Standard Bank in Church Street; and the fourth outside Kenwyn House in Pietermaritz Street. Others can be seen at Allison’s old saddler near the station in Church Street, and outside the Municipal Offices in Church Street. The Natal Witness has since been renamed The Witness and has relocated from the CBD to Willowton.

Hindu Temple

The main Hindu Temple in Pietermaritzburg is the Sri Siva Soobramoniar and Marriamen Temple in lower Longmarket Street. Established in 1898, the temple is the focal point of the annual Firewalking Festival held annually on Good Friday. Here, in the temple grounds, about 50 devotees end a 10-day fast by walking barefoot across pits of glowing coals. The temple is open to visitors on Sundays from 8am to 6pm and from Mondays to Saturdays from 7am to 6pm.

Italian Church

This impressive little church is on the right-hand side of the national road to Durban near the Mkondeni flyover. It is all that remains of the Italian prisoner-of-war camp which stood there in World War II. About 5 000 Italians were detained there, and at the suggestion of their chaplain, began to build the church on February 2, 1943. Stone was transported on foot from a quarry two kilometres away. What the Italians constructed with the few tools at their disposal is a monument to their skill and perseverance. The church was consecrated on March 19, 1944. In front of the church stands a stone lion, sculpted by the Italians, which once stood in the middle of the camp. A service is conducted in the church on the last Sunday of each month at 10am. j.h. isaacs building The walls of this building are of plastered brick with heavy quoins. It has a corrugated iron canopy over the pavement on ornate cast-iron columns, drip frets and brackets. An unusual feature of the pediment gable is a carved griffin.

Another building in the Renaissance Revival style.

Macfarlane Bridge

This gracefully curved bridge built in 1899 is a good example of functional ironwork supported on stone piers. This bridge leads one to the Pietermaritzburg Oval which is considered one of South Africa’s most charming cricket venues.

Macrorie House

This fine Victorian museum contains furniture and relics of the early British settlers. The historic house, built about 1862, was acquired by William Macrorie, Bishop of Maritzburg from 1869 to 1891. Macrorie’s appointment followed the rebellion of Bishop John William Colenso, Bishop of Natal, who in 1861 openly challenged the doctrine of atonement and debunked the idea of eternal punishment. The schism resulted in the establishment of two church factions – Colenso’s Church of England in Natal (St Peter’s) and the Episcopal Church of the Province of South Africa (St Saviour’s), taken over by Macrorie on his arrival from England in 1869. Among the museum’s attractions is Bishop Macrorie’s miniature chapel containing the altar and reredos.

Mcnamee's

This building was erected in 1903 by the Methodist Church of South Africa and is occupied by furnishers. The surviving cast-iron columns and section of filigree work were used as a pattern for a new veranda, which was restored to its original beauty in 1987, extending the city’s Victorian / Edwardian charm. The building is in the Flemish Renaissance Revival style and features red-brick walls with elaborate plaster moulds.

Moslem School

The Nizamia Madressa Islamic School is a distinctive building at 181 East Street. It features a pair of Islamic-style minarets and plastered fascia over a colonnaded veranda.

Natal Government Railway Headquarters

The old Natal Government Railways (NGR) building (1903) is now the local headquarters of the South African Police Services. This is another red-brick building featuring the royal coat-of-arms and small rounded gables at either end topped by twin cupolas. The architect was E.J. Wellman, who won a design competition after borrowing from the late English Renaissance style. natal mounted police headquarters This red-brick building was designed in 1878 by the Colonial Engineer, Albert Henry Hime, but the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 brought so many disruptions that it was completed only in 1890 as headquarters for the Natal Mounted Police. It features a gable and steeple above the tunnel entrance, and the veranda, which was added during building operations. Behind the main building was a spacious area for training horses, and stables.

Natal Museum

Experience an ocean floor walk with a dramatic view of an undersea reef … walk the wooden deck of a Portuguese shipwreck of the 16th century … stroll through the Stone Age cave and Iron Age village … touch a real dinosaur bone … view fantastic collections of Zulu art and craft objects … marvel at the rich heritage of San rock art … wander through the halls of African mammals, birds and insects. The Museum Coffee Shop offers refreshments and you can buy a souvenir of your visit at the small curio shop. 237 Loop Street, Pietermaritzburg. Open: Mon – Fri: 09:00 to 16:30. Sat: 09:00 to 16:00. Sun: 11:00 to 15:00.

Old Colonial Building

The soaring columns of this elegant building are a fine example of the architecture of the late 19th century. The building was commenced in 1895 to house the Natal Colonial Government departments and completed four years later. It replaced a small Colonial Government building which stood immediately in front of it in Church Street, opposite the old Presbyterian Church. Outside the building in the mall area is the GANDHI STATUE which commemorates the Mahatma’s status as a world leader and his significant links with Pietermaritzburg. old government house This historical monument at the top end of Church Street is now part of the Natal College of Education. It was the home of the Lieutenant-Governor of Natal, Benjamin Pine, who arrived in Natal in 1851. The building was completed in the late 1860’s and the Natal Government later bought it from Pine and established it as Government House. Chief Langalibalele was tried and sentenced there after the rebellion of the Hlubi tribe in 1873.

Old Presbyterian Church

Built in 1852, this was the first British church in Pietermaritzburg. A clock was ordered and installed in the tower in 1875.

Old Natal Parliament Building

Situated in Longmarket Street, the foundation stone of this building was laid in June 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. In 1889 it was inaugurated as the meeting place of the Legislative Council of 12 elected colonists and four nominated officials. To make room for the building, St. Mary’s Church which for a generation had served as a mission church, was demolished and a replica was built on the corner of Commercial Road and Burger Street in 1880. The building housed the Assembly from 1900. When the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910, the Assembly became the meeting place of the Natal Provincial Council. It contains some interesting relics of colonial days. Today it is used as the seat for the Provincial Legislature.

Old st. Mary's Catholic Church

The original St Mary’s Catholic Church at 80 Loop Street is a singly-story building with plastered brick walls and ornate bargeboards in the simplistic Gothic revival style. A plaque near the entrance records that the body of Prince Louis Napoleon of France lay in state inside the church after he was killed in an ambush in the Zulu War of 1879. The Prince Imperial’s body was taken to Durban and put aboard a Royal Navy ship. His remains were buried at Chislehurst, England. This site forms part of the "Route du Prince Imperial" which commemorates the city’s links with the French Royal House.

Old Stock Exchange

The first Pietermaritzburg Stock Exchange was established in a room on the site of the present Allied Building in Church Street on May 1, 1888. In 1902, the brokers moved into their smart new building at 14 Timber Street, still well preserved today with the words "Stock Exchange" above its doorway. Their stay was a short one however, for the Stock Exchange moved into a two-story block in Chancery Lane in 1903.

Old YMCA

This building was completed in 1991 for the YMCA and is a fine example of a double-story veranda. It was proclaimed a National Monument in 1981.

Overpark House

Situated at the top of "the dip" in Loop Street, No. 122 bears the Historical Monument plaque (proclaimed 1981). It was built in 1862 as the Presbyterian manse for the minister at the old Presbyterian Church (1852) in Church Street. For many years it was knows as the "ghost house" and was almost derelict before being restored in 1980.

Pavilion

The foundation stone of the Pavilion was laid in June 1897 and it was officially opened on May 24, 1898. With its onion-shaped domes, this building has long been one of the delights of Pietermaritzburg in its park setting. The building featured as Lord Chelmsford’s headquarters in the film "Zulu Dawn".It has since been demolished as it became stucturally unsound.

Poole's Building

On the Hesom Street / Longmarket Street corner is an unusual commercial building occupied for many years by Poole’s fruiterers. Completed in 1899, it is full of rich architectural detail and intriguing plasterwork. The flat arch-headed windows are timber-framed with a sliding sash. The ornate gables on the corner section are borrowed from the Belgian Renaissance Revival style with re-brick walls and ornate mouldings. Restored in 1988.

Post Office

Set back from the pavement in Longmarket Street is the imposing Post Office building which was opened in 1903 during the Edwardian era. The façade is constructed entirely of Natal dressed stone with a great variety of shape, size and design. The window over the wildebeest running from left to right. publicity house Now the headquarters of the Pietermaritzburg Publicity Association, this building was designed by J.S. Brunskill and completed in 1884 for the Borough Police. The old police station consisted of nine dormitory rooms for the staff, a dining room, and eight cells on the Longmarket Street side of the building. The rear section was used as the Borough Fire Station from 1884 until 1934. The bell in the tower tolled the Native curfew at 9pm each day, even after the police vacated the premises in 1933. Declared a National Monument in 1978 and restored to its original red-brick beauty in 1988 during the city’s 150th anniversary.

Railway Station

The Victorian railway station dates back to 1892. Built in red brick with contrasting stone facings, it has cast-iron lacework on the huge veranda, pan tiles on the roof and a turret on the top. Situated at the top end of Church Street, the station entrance affords a fine view over the city. It was at this site that the great Mahatma Gandhi was evicted from a train. This event motivated him to work for peace and justice which eventually made him a global liberation figure. It is currently disused and has unfortunately fallen into disrepair.

Reid's Building

Known for many years as Reid’s Cabinet Works, this was the first triple-story business house in Pietermaritzburg and, at the turn of the century, was considered a skyscraper. The lacy Victorian cast-iron veranda is a well-preserved feature of the red-brick building with timber casement windows. The ornately decorated gable is flanked by two domed turrets. The design is Renaissance Revival.

Slave Bell

Known locally as the Slave Bell, the bell at the top of the plane tree avenue in the National Botanical Gardens was placed there in 1958 to mark the golden jubilee of the planting of the 46 trees in 1908. The bell comes from the British Admiralty yacht "Lady Enchantress, which took Sir Winston Churchill to Norway after World War II.

st George's Garrison Church

St George’s Garrison church, an historical monument, was built I 1897 and used as a military hospital in 1900. It now contains relics of the British military occupation. The carved choir stalls are the work of a British soldier at Fort Napier. The beautiful stained-glass windows feature the Sheffield trademark, the daisy.

st Mary's Anglican Church

Declared a National Monument in 1970, the church is a replica of the one built for Bishop J.W. Colenso’s African congregation in 1856. The first church stood opposite The Natal Witness building in Longmarket Street and, when the site was acquired from the Diocese for the Natal Parliament building, the new St Mary’s was built from the original plans in 1884 – a year after Colenso’s death. The first church was demolished in 1887.

st Peter's Church

Completed and consecrated in 1857, this historic building became Bishop John William Colenso’s "cathedral" following the schism in the Church of England congregation in the Colony which led to William Macrorie’s appointment as "Bishop of Maritzburg" in 1869. Bishop Colenso is buried in front of the altar, where the inscription reads: "John William Colenso D.D. Bishop of Natal Sobantu Died June 20th, 1883 Aged 69" The church’s beautiful stained-glass windows are believed to be of Flemish origin. The church is now a meeting place and repository of the treasures of two parishes – St Peter’s and St Saviour’s. The adjacent new Cathedral of the Holy Nativity, dedicated in 1981, contains crosses from Lincoln, Coventry and Canterbury cathedrals.

Tatham Art Gallery

The foundations of this red-brick building in Commercial Road were laid in 1865 when the Supreme Court sessions were still being held in the old Voortrekker Raadsaal Building (on the site of the present City Hall). The building was completed only in 1871. The court chamber was also used for meetings of the Legislative Council until the Members of the Legislative Council moved into their own council chamber in Longmarket Street in 1889. This fine example of Colonial architecture formed the central complex of the capital'’ defensive system during the Zulu War of 1879. Converted during 1989/90 into the new Tatham Art Gallery, which is one of Africa’s foremost galleries. Recently most of the longstanding art pieces have been sold off.

Voortrekker Graveyard

The oldest graves in the city may be found here in the cemetery in Commercial Road. Visitors can spend a fascinating half-hour or so exploring the resting-place of Pietermaritzburg’s Trekker pioneers. Martin West, the first Lieutenant-Governor of Natal from 1845 to 1849, is buried here.

Voortrekker House

This is the only surviving double-storey Voortrekker house in Pietermaritzburg. The land on which it stands was granted on April 8, 1846, to Petrus Gerhardus Pretorius. Pretorius is believed to have begun construction later that same year of the double-storey house, which has walls of local shale and a thatched roof. The original yellowwood ceilings and tiled floor are in excellent condition. The house, at 333 Boom Street, is furnished in typical Trekker fashion. Pale pink has been used on the interior walls upstairs, and pale blue downstairs – colours that were "all the rage" in the Eastern Cape during the 1840s.

Voortrekker Museum

This building is the original Church of the Vow, built in 1841 to commemorate the Boer victory over the Zulu's at Blood River on December 16, 1838. The museum contains a unique and varied collection of Voortrekker relics, including a replica of a Voortrekker ox-wagon and a chair carved from the trunk of an Ironwood tree for the Zulu chief, Dingaan, by his indunas. The trees in the grounds of the Museum were planted in 1912 by various prominent persons, including Dirk Uys, son of one of the Voortrekkers, and Aia Jana, an old Coloured woman who had accompanied her mistress on the Great Trek. The modern Memorial Church is next to the Voortrekker Museum and its architecture symbolises the history and struggles of the Voortrekkers in Natal. Immediately in front of the Church are the statues of Piet Retief and Gert Maritz, two of the Voortrekker leaders. This museum is considered by many people of Afrikaner descent as one of their cultural shrines.

Weeping Cross of Delville Wood

A picturesque little garden stands alongside the Midlands Club in Leinster Road at the Scottsville end of Commercial Road. A beautiful reminder to those who gave their lives in two world wars, the garden contains the Delville Wood "weeping cross", which often oozes sap on the anniversary of the World War I battle in which many South Africans died, between July 14 and 18, 1916. widow retief's house A small single-storey building on the right of Edgars is the former house of Boer leader Piet Retief’s widow, where she ran a bakery. The oven she used can still be seen inside the building, now occupied by a firm of solicitors. Built in about 1840, only part of the original house remains.

World War II tank

An example of a World War II tank stands outside the Allan Wilson Shellhole near the Alexandra Road intersection with Commercial Road. Its is a General Stuart light tank, the first American-built tank used by the British forces in November 1941. The Stuart tank, also known as the "Honey", had a crew of four, and a maximum speed of 36 m.p.h. It carried three Browning machine-guns and a 37mm cannon.  

Worlds View

Overlooking Pietermarizburg is the famous Worlds View, accessable via the Old Howick road it boasts a breathtaking panoramic view of the valley and puts into perspective the layout of Pietermaritzburg and surrounds. On a clear day it is said one can see the ocean.

In and around the paved parapet that makes up the memorial built for visitors to this localle, there are are various landmarks erected, one such plaque is in remembrance of a Michaelhouse pupil; George H.L. Cotton, born 31 August 1941 and deceased 18 April 1956. He was only 14 years old.

If one looks at the rocks in and around the area, one can still see gouge marks on the rocks made by the Voortrekkers wagons as they must have ridden over the hill.

The header image has been taken from Worlds View.