From a dusty town to a retail giant
Welcome to Boksburg, which is by all accounts celebrating 130 years.
Yes, this once little town is no longer so little, or so dusty, but has over the years sprouted to become a modern retail giant of note.
Just take a look at North Rand, Trichardts and Rietfontein roads along with Kingfisher Avenue in Sunward Park.
Today, Boksburg flexes its retail muscles with some 16 shopping centres, including East Rand Mall, East Point, Value Mall, Retail Park, Sunward Park Lifestyle Centre and Kingfisher Corner.
It has blossomed in terms of property development – commercial, residential and rental – with the latest proposed Leeuwpoort Development signalling a possible influx of another 100 000 residents.
So where did Boksburg all start? Well, it all started with gold being discovered in 1887.
Prior to 1860, the present municipal area of Boksburg and its immediate environs comprised mainly the Highveld farms called Leeuwpoort, Klippoortje, Klipfontein and Driefontein.
Carl Ziervogel bought the farm Leeuwpoort in 1875 and for 300 morgen of barren, rocky veld he paid £75.
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In September 1886 Pieter Killian, a young Afrikaans prospector, discovered quartz reefs on Leeuwpoort.
He also discovered quartz reefs on the farm Vogelfontein, named after Adolf Vogel.
Samples of the quartz were sent to Pretoria for assaying,which confirmed the presence of gold.
Killian advised Dr WE Bok, secretary of state for the Transvaal Republic, of the results of the assay.
The result was the proclamation, on March 10, 1887, of the town of Boksburg. And so Boksburg was named after WE Bok.
At the time the Main Reef Road linked Boksburg to all the other major mining towns on the Witwatersrand and the Angelo Hotel (1887) was used as a staging post.
Carl Ziervogel, who had been trying to sell Leeuwpoort, now opened the first gold mine on the East Rand, the Ziervogel Gold Mining Company.
Gold was also discovered at Elsburg, 8km to the southwest.
Elsburg was a recognised stopping point for coaches and wagon traffic.
The first government offices were built in Elsburg and what was to become Boksburg was but a suburb of Elsburg.
With the real centre of mining being centred on Boksburg, however, soon President Paul Kruger ordered that a new town be laid out to accommodate the many miners.
Land for the new town was released by having the boundaries of the farms Leeuwpoort, Driefontein and Klipfontein moved back from where they met.
The newly created farm was called Vogelfontein.
In 1887 the Republican Government built the Post Office and the Mining Commissioner’s office.
Business and residential properties began to be built in the fledgling town in its first year of existence.
A railway was built by the Netherlands-South African Railway Company to link Boksburg to Johannesburg in 1890.
After the discovery of gold, people of all races flocked to Boksburg – some hoped to get rich, others just wanted employment.
And the rest, as the saying goes, is all history.
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