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Ferreirasdorp is located in Gauteng
Ferreirasdorp is located in South Africa
Coordinates: 26°12′29″S 28°01′59″E / 26.208°S 28.033°E / -26.208; 28.033Coordinates: 26°12′29″S 28°01′59″E / 26.208°S 28.033°E / -26.208; 28.033
CountrySouth Africa
MunicipalityCity of Johannesburg
Main PlaceJohannesburg
 • Total0.42 km2 (0.16 sq mi)
 • Total625
 • Density1,500/km2 (3,900/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)
 • Black African73.6%
 • Coloured3.4%
 • Indian/Asian20.5%
 • White2.2%
 • Other0.3%
First languages (2011)
 • English25.0%
 • Zulu17.1%
 • Tswana12.3%
 • Northern Sotho10.2%
 • Other35.4%
Time zoneUTC+2 (SAST)
Postal code (street)
PO box

Ferreirasdorp (or Ferreirastown)[2] is an inner-city suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa located in Region F of the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality.

First known as Ferreira's Camp (Afrikaans: Ferreiraskamp) and later Ferreira's Township, it is the oldest part of Johannesburg.[3][4] Sometimes referred to as the "cradle of Johannesburg", it is where the first gold diggings started, and where the first diggers initially settled.[5] The city grew around the mining camp in the Ferreirasdorp area,[6] and Johannesburg’s Main Street developed from a rough track where the present Albert Street led off towards Ferreira’s Camp.[7]

The suburb is named after Colonel Ignatius Ferreira, leader of the original group of diggers who settled in this area in 1886.[8]


Ferreira's Gold Mine in 1886

The suburb's origins lie in the Turffontein farm set up by Colonel Ignatius Ferreira, a Boer adventurer from Cape Colony.[9] Ferreira had acquired a dozen claims in the vicinity and opened the reef in a cutting. The ore from both sides had a high gold content.[9] The first tent on the site was erected in 1886, two months before gold digging started in earnest.[10]

In 1886 Hans Sauer, who combined a medical practice with prospecting on Cecil Rhodes’s behalf, was guided from Ferreira’s Camp to the main group of gold reefs by a son of the widow Petronella Oosthuizen, the owner of a farm at Langlaagte, on which the main gold reefs had first been discovered.[7]

Following reports of new gold finds in the Witwatersrand, Rhodes and Rudd set off for Ferreira's camp.[9] Already at the time of Rhodes' visit, a little crowd of diggers were at work, and in the week that had passed since Sauer had been away, an Englishwoman had run up a reed and mud building called Walker's Hotel.[11]

Within a fortnight of Rhodes' arrival in July 1886, Ferreira's camp was crowded with tents and wagons from across southern Africa.[9] The tent town eventually became known as Ferreira’s Camp.[10] In July, the Diamond Fields Advertiser was already reporting that the population of Ferreira's Town was 300 persons.[8]

Gold was discovered in September 1886.[12] On September 8, 1886, Landrost Carl von Brandis read President Paul Kruger’s proclamation, confirming the gold fields of the Rand as public diggings.[6] When, in November 1886, a portion of the farm Randjeslaagte had been laid out as a village and named Johannesburg, the Government took over Ferreira's camp and had it properly surveyed and named Ferreira's Township.[13]

Ferreira's Camp in 1886

The first building to go up in Johannesburg, the Central Hotel, was located in Ferreira’s Camp.[10] The first barber shop in Johannesburg, the first bar, the first pub and the first brothel were all opened in Ferreira's Camp.[14] So were the first circus, Fillis's Circus (in September 1886); the first café, Café Francais (in 1886), and the first school (in November 1886).[14] It was also the location of the first bank branch on the Witwatersrand gold fields, when Standard Bank started doing business in a tent in Ferreira's Camp, in 1886.[15] On 11 October 1887, Ferreirasdorp was incorporated into Johannesburg.[16]:116

As the city expanded, Ferreirasdorp quickly degenerated into a slum.[17] By the 1890s, the western side of Commissioner street, where the Johannesburg Central Police Station is now located, had developed a reputation for its brothels and the gangs that controlled them.[18] The name Ferreirasdorp itself ultimately became "synonymous with practically everything that is vile and violent" about Johannesburg.[17]

By the turn of the century, many contemporary sources referred to the western part of Ferreirasdorp as the 'Cantonese quarter'.[3] The area became home to a large coloured community, and in 1898 a site was set aside for a church (St. Alban’s Anglican Mission Church) to service the coloured Anglican community.[2] In 1925, the Communist Party of South Africa opened a school offering night classes to blacks, but it was closed during the party purges of the 1930s.[19] In the 1960s, under the Group Areas Act, the coloured community was forcibly moved.[2]

Heritage sites[edit]

A number of cultural heritage sites are present in the area:[5]

  • The location of the Ferreira’s Camp, i.e. the area bounded by Commissioner, Ferreira, Alexander and Frederick Streets.[5]
  • The location of the Ferreira’s wagon (apparently in the vicinity of today's Wesleyan Girls Hostel).[5]
  • Ferreira’s Mine stope, preserved within the Standard Bank precinct as one of Johannesburg’s first sub-surface digging mines.[5] Standard Bank was the first bank to establish itself in Johannesburg, in October 1886.[20] In 1986, exactly one hundred years after the mine (and Standard Bank) started in Johannesburg, Standard Bank built its head office over this mine.[20]
  • St. Alban’s Mission Church, founded in 1898 to serve the local Coloured Anglican community, designed by F.L.H. Fleming.[5]
  • Chancellor House, where Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo had their first law practice.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d "Sub Place Ferreirasdorp". Census 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "Ferreirasdorp (Ferreirastown)". Newtown Heritage Trail. Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ a b Melanie Yap (1996). Colour, Confusion and Concessions: The History of the Chinese in South Africa. Hong Kong University Press. p. 84. ISBN 978-962-209-424-6. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  4. ^ "Chinatown Precinct Plan" (PDF). City of Johannesburg. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2013. The oldest part of Johannesburg was first known as Ferreira’s Camp and later Ferreiradorp. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Westgate Station Precinct Spatial Development Framework and Implementation Plan" (PDF). City of Johannesburg (Archive). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  6. ^ a b "Birth of Our Traffic Jams". IOL.co.za. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Pietermaritzburg Gold" (PDF). pp. 24–26. Retrieved 7 May 2013.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ a b "The city without water". City of Johannesburg. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d Meredith, Martin (2008-09-22). Diamonds, gold, and war: the British, the Boers, and the making of South Africa. PublicAffairs. pp. 177–179. ISBN 978-1-58648-641-9. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  10. ^ a b c "Discover your city". City of Johannesburg. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  11. ^ Ian Duncan Colvin (1922). The life of Jameson. p. 8.
  12. ^ "Ferreira's wagon rolls in". City of Johannesburg. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  13. ^ Gerald Anton Leyds (1964). A History of Johannesburg: The Early Years. Nasionale Boekhandel Beperk. pp. (from snippet view). Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  14. ^ a b "Joburg's firsts". City of Johannesburg. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  15. ^ "Standard Bank becomes the first bank to opens its doors on the Witwatersrand". South African History Online. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  16. ^ Musiker, Naomi; Musiker, Reuben (2000). A Concise Historical Dictionary of Greater Johannesburg. Cape Town: Francolin. ISBN 1868590712.
  17. ^ a b Murray, Martin J. (2011-06-20). City of Extremes: The Spatial Politics of Johannesburg. Duke University Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-8223-4768-2. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  18. ^ "Brothels and gangs marked Jozi's first formal street". The Star | IOL.co.za. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  19. ^ Les Switzer (1997). South Africa's Alternative Press: Voices of Protest and Resistance, 1880s-1960s. Cambridge University Press. pp. 333–. ISBN 978-0-521-55351-3. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  20. ^ a b "Ferreira's mine stope in downtown Jozi". Artslink.co.za. Retrieved 7 May 2013.