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The Central Business District of Germiston
|• Total||143.27 km2 (55.32 sq mi)|
|Elevation||1,620 m (5,310 ft)|
|• Density||1,800/km2 (4,600/sq mi)|
|Racial makeup (2011)|
|• Black African||62.3%|
|First languages (2011)|
|Postal code (street)||1401|
Germiston is a city in the East Rand of Gauteng in South Africa. Germiston is now the seat of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality which includes much of the East Rand, and is also considered part of Greater Johannesburg.
It was established in the early days of the gold rush when two prospectors, John Jack from the farm of Germiston near Glasgow and August Simmer from Vacha in Germany, struck paydirt on the farm of Elandsfontein. Both men made fortunes and the town sprang up next to the mine. In 1921 the world's largest gold refinery, the Rand Refinery, was established at Germiston. Seventy percent of the western world's gold passes through this refinery. Although gold mining gradually wound down in Germiston, to the point that by the end of the 20th century it was no longer a mining centre, the Rand Refinery remains as busy as ever.
The WesBank Raceway motorsports facility was located in the city, but it was sold to industrial estate developers in November 2007. The Raceway was formerly the Gosforth Park Race Club, one of the major horse racing facilities in Gauteng. Germiston Stadium (formerly the Herman Immelman Stadium), home stadium of Moroka Swallows FC is also located in the city. This is also the home ground for the Germiston Simmer Rugby Club and has a tartan track for athletics.
The city has a number of historic buildings. Among these are the St Andrew's Presbyterian Church which was built in 1905, and St Boniface Church designed by Sir Herbert Baker, which was built in 1910 (this is the second church on the site, as the Anglican Parish was founded in 1897). The church also houses the historic 1910 English Romantic Norman and Beard Organ.
The Alexander Hotel was also partly designed by Baker, using his traditional stone appearance. This building has recently been completely renovated and now houses a well-known law firm. The builder of the hotel, Alexander Stuart, some of whose descendants still live in Germiston, died when the RMS Lusitania was torpedoed in the First World War on the 7th of May 1915. The hotel thus remains a memorial to his pioneer work in the city over a hundred years ago.
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South African Airways moved its head office from Durban to Rand Airport in Germiston on 1 July 1935. It later moved the offices first to Johannesburg, then to Kempton Park. The city is an industrial centre with steel manufacture and distribution being the largest industries. It has large railway workshops, a large glassworks, engineering companies, gas distribution firms, and many other heavy and light industries.
According to the 2001 census, the population of Germiston consisted of 139,719 people living in 49,062 households, and its land area was 129 square kilometres (50 sq mi). Of this population, 49.8% described themselves as "White", 46.8% as "Black African", 1.9% as "Coloured", and 1.5% as "Indian or Asian". No language was predominant, with the breakdown of first languages being as follows:
There are a number of schools in the city, including the Dominican St Catherine's Convent, which was founded in the city centre in 1908, and then relocated to the suburb of Parkhill Gardens in the 1940s. Germiston High School was founded in 1917, alongside Victoria Lake. From the 1940s to 1963, the girls were based in Fourth Avenue in Lambton, at what was known as Germiston Girls' High School, whilst the boys remained at the 1917 campus as Germiston Boys' High School. In 1964, due to the need to relocate the Afrikaans Delville Primary School, the girls were moved back to combine with the boys in the original historic buildings. Famous past pupils include Dr Sydney Brenner, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize.
The Germiston Boys' High School cadet band was known throughout South Africa as one of the greatest school cadet bands ever to compete and parade in South Africa. This cadet band's record of achievement is unparalleled in the history of South African school cadet bands. The band started its success from the year 1952, running up to and including 1964. Often the band would record an average mark of 99 percent overall. (Music performance, drumming, bugle and trumpet ensemble, along with drill, dress and discipline).
The school boasted a very large and active music centre for a number of years, which grew largely due to the work of the late George Burgess. The various jazz and concert bands that were the product of the music centre recorded various long playing records, won awards in various Eisteddfods and national competitions and appeared on television. Sadly, due to education department budget restructuring, the music centre was closed. The school still enjoys the singing of an excellent choir.
The rowing club, which won the South African National Championships in 1980, is still flourishing, and the oarsmen and women compete at all the school regattas.
Victoria Lake is better known today simply as Germiston Lake, however, the famous Sailing and Rowing Club retains the name of the Victoria Lake Club. The club is home to some of the best canoeists and rowing crews in the country, including the twenty-time South African School Champions, St Benedict's College. The lake is very popular at weekends for water-skiing and regattas. The lake grounds have recently been re-landscaped and the braai areas and shelters rebuilt.
Germiston is also the location of Rand Airport, at one time one of the busiest in Africa and the southern hemisphere. Today it caters largely for light aircraft and flying schools, but is also home to the South African Airways Museum. As a result of this, two of the earlier Boeing 747 Jumbo aircraft used by SAA now reside there on permanent display.
Notable people to come from Germiston include:
- Dr Sydney Brenner, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
- Trevor Denman, an American sportscaster and public-address announcer specialising in thoroughbred horse racing.
- Ted Grant, Trotskyist politician and theorist.
- Pierre Issa.
- Albert Johanneson, professional footballer and first black player to play in the FA Cup.
- André Nel, South African cricket fast bowler.
- Walter Burgess, aviculturist and finch expert.
- Stanley Skewes, mathematician.
- Helen Suzman, anti-apartheid activist and politician.
- Marie Warder, journalist who went on to champion the cause of hemochromatosis.
- Arlene Dickinson, South African-Canadian entrepreneur.
- Bobby Locke, professional golfer, winner of four Open Championships.
- George Pavlich, noted Canadian academic in Sociology, Criminology and Legal Theory, Professor at University of Alberta.
- John Cundill, journalist, scriptwriter (The Villagers, Jock of the Bushvelt, Two Weeks in Paradise) and playwright (The Eulogy, Unforced Errors, Up the Tiber without a Toga etc.).
- Ernie Els, world famous golfer who attended Delville Primary School.
- Dr Chris Stals, former Governor of the South African Reserve Bank, who attended Afrikaans High School Germiston.
Coats of arms
By 1931, the Germiston municipality had assumed a pseudo-heraldic coat of arms, depicting (1) buck in the veld, (2) a scene showing mineshafts, (3) a railway train in a landscape, and (4) a half-tented ox-wagon in a landscape, the quarters separated by a red cross. The motto was Salus populi suprema lex.
A proper coat of arms was granted by the College of Arms in August 1935. It was registered with the Transvaal Provincial Administration in August 1963 and at the Bureau of Heraldry in February 1968.
The arms were: Gules, within two bendlets Or between two ox wagons Argent, three bezants (i.e. a red shield displaying three gold coins between two diagonal gold lines between two ox-wagons).
The crest was a rising falcon (representing Rand Airport); the supporters were two eland, each resting a foot on an heraldic fountain (a white and blue striped disc); the motto was Salus populi suprema lex.
- "Chronological order of town establishment in South Africa based on Floyd (1960:20-26)" (PDF). pp. xlv–lii.
- "Main Place Germiston". Census 2011.
- "A Brief History of SAA." South African Airways. Retrieved on 23 June 2010. Archived 30 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Main Place 'Germiston'". Census 2001. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
- The arms were depicted on a cigarette card issued in 1931.
- Transvaal Official Gazette 2400 (19 August 1963).
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