Church Square, Pretoria
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Church Square (Afrikaans: Kerkplein), originally Market Square (Dutch: Marktplein), is the square at the historic centre of the city of Pretoria, South Africa. The founder of Pretoria, Marthinus Pretorius, determined that the square be used as a market place and church yard. It was subsequently named for the church buildings that stood at the centre of the square from 1856 to 1905. The square's most prominent feature, since June 1954, is however the statue of the late Boer leader and president of the South African Republic, Paul Kruger, at its centre. Statues of four anonymous Boer citizen-soldiers surround that of Kruger on a lower level of the plinth.
Several historically and architecturally significant buildings surround the square: the Palace of Justice, the Old Capitol Theatre, the Tudor Chambers, the Ou Raadsaal (Old Council Chamber) and the General Post Office, which was designed by William Hawke.
2014 revamping project
In keeping with the historical value of the square, a rejuvenation project was announced in 2014 in the old Raadsaal. Roads around the square would be converted for exclusive use by the A Re Yeng ("Let's Go") bus service and its service vehicles, while pedestrian areas would be made more public-friendly. The defunct south wall’s fountain head would be restored and trees would be planted around the square. Numerous street benches would be provided and the square's tar walkways would be replaced with slate. The Kruger statues at the centre of the square would remain, and the square will be closed for hawkers.
Produce was conveyed to the Market Square by wagon, where their owners' oxen were also outspanned. The produce, if not sold direct from the wagon, would be placed on the ground amidst the trek oxen and the cattle and horses for sale. A first market shed was erected by the municipality after 1910 which led to a legal battle between the Pretoria Market and Estate Company and the town council. This was finally decided by Lord de Villiers at Bloemfontein, whose verdict gave the council control over 3/4 of the square, while the Market and Estate Company retained control of the Market Hall and buildings on the square's north-western corner for about another 40 years. The building of further sheds and the paving of the Market Square c.1917 were consequences of Lord de Villiers' verdict.
Lines for horse-drawn trams initially connected the railway station with Market, Church, du Toit and Esselen streets to the terminus at the east end of de Kock Street. This company ceased operations at the outbreak of war in 1899, and it was not until c.1904 that the municipality purchased their concession and restarted it. Only in November 1910 were electric trams put into operation.
The square became known as Church Square due to a succession of three churches that stood at the center of the square. The first church on Church Square was built in 1856 by Skinner and Devereux, and inaugurated in 1857. This was replaced by a larger building, which burnt down in 1882. This simple Cape Dutch style building was replaced by an early Gothic style building, built by Claridge, together with Leslie Simmonds. This third church building, known as the Verenigde Kerk, was demolished in 1904/1905, shortly after president Paul Kruger's state funeral was conducted from it.
According to a Minute of His Worship the Mayor (Andrew Johnson) for the Mayoral Year ending 25th October 1905, Municipality of Pretoria, a fountain was proposed for the square by Mr. Samuel Marks. This piece in turn was moved to the Pretoria Zoo, making way for the current collection of sculptures.
The turreted Palace of Justice was the scene of arguably the most famous political trial in South Africa's history, the Rivonia Trial. During this trial, Nelson Mandela and a number of other ANC members were charged with treason, found guilty and subsequently incarcerated.
Boer commandos on the square during the Boer War, 1899
The square in 1905, adorned by the Sammy Marks Fountain
- "President Paul Kruger lays the foundation stone of the Raadsaal on Pretoria's Church Square". sahistory.org.za. 4 May 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
- "Church Square". Retrieved 19 February 2014.
- Meiring, Hannes (1977). Boukunsskatte van Suid-Afrika. Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau. p. 44. ISBN 0-7981-0806-1.
- Martins, Du P (17 September 2014). "Church Square to get a face lift". rekordeast.co.za. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
- Martins, Du P (2 December 2014). "Station to Church Square soon part of BRT". rekordeast.co.za. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
- Beanes. "Reminiscence of Mr Beanes: Pretoria fifty years ago" (PDF). sahra.org.za. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
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