Boksburg’s amazing history - read all about it

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. 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 W.E. Bok, Secretary of State for the Transvaal Republic,

of the results of the assay. The result was the proclamation,

on the 10th March 1887, of the two farms as public diggings.

Carl Ziervogel, who had been trying to sell Leeuwpoort,

now opened the first gold mine on the East Rand, the

Ziervogel Gold Mining Company. Cornish miners were

brought out to work the diggings


Unfortunately, it soon transpired that heavy expenditure was

necessary for development, and as the Directors were unable

to finance this, the mine closed down. Mr Abe Bailey of the

Barnato Group, which owned the Johannesburg Consolidated

Investment Company (JCI), bought the farm Leeuwpoort in

1894 for £100,000. The mynpacht was controlled by JCI. who

established E.R.P.M. Ltd, which is still carrying on mining operations after 118 years. JCI also developed many residential suburbs over the years


Gold was also found at Elsburg, 8km to the southwest. Elsburg was a recognized stopping point for coaches and wagon traffic. The first Government offices were at 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 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,  on which 1000 stands of 50x50 feet each were created. The new town of Boksburg was named after Dr Bok. In1887 the first auction sale of stands took place, at which prices of £5 to £25 were realized


Also in 1887 the Republican Government built the Post Office and the Mining Commissio-

ner’s office. Business and residential properties began to be built in the fledgling town in its first year of existence


In 1888 coal deposits were discovered right on the boundary of the new town, and here coal was first mined in the Transvaal. This started an era of company promotion and syndicate formation, with ground fetching high prices. Enterprises of all kinds were set up and Boksburg began to emerge from a mining camp atmosphere to a fully-fledged town. Coal ensured that the gold mining industry would grow to a formidable size
























The first coal mine was called Gauf’s Mine after the Manager Mr J.L. Gauf. Others were the Good Hope, Ferndale and many more. There now arose a pressing need for a more sophisticated coal distribution system than using teams of ox wagons. The mine owners strongly advocated a railway line between Johannesburg and Boksburg, but this was opposed by the waggoneers. President Kruger managed to persuade the Volksraad to approve the building of a “tram” line, ostensibly to transport passengers only! The Rand Tram (so named as to appease the transport riders) opened in 1890, between Johannesburg’s Park station and Boksburg station. The line was subsequently extended to Brakpan and Springs, where large deposits of superior quality coal had been discovered. Also, deposits of high grade fireclay were discovered in Boksburg, which gave impetus to development of a  fireclay manufacturing industry. All this helped the importance of the gold mining industry


Coal mining came to an end in 1895 after underground fires broke out, rendering the entire mining area unsafe


Immediately to the north of Boksburg Township was a large muddy vlei fed by a small stream from the North-East. This vlei was the only watering place for stock between Middelburg and Johannesburg and the government received strong representations from transport riders and others for improved watering facilities near the public outspan west of the town. It was accordingly decided to build a small dam at the outlet of the vlei. The work was not proceeding satisfactorily, so Montague White, appointed Mining Commissioner of the Boksburg Goldfields in 1888, was asked by President Kruger to look into the matter. White said soon after arriving in Boksburg that the place was one of  the “most uninviting spots” he had ever seen. Two things dear to him were needed: a stream or well-ordered sheet of water and trees, instead of the barren area of muddy pools which he found


White was able to persuade a reluctant President to build a larger dam than was originally envisaged, because he visualised the ugly vlei being transformed into a beautiful lake fringed with trees. However, after completion, the new lake stood empty for nearly two years and became known as “White’s folly”. In 1891 the rains came, there was a cloudburst north of the dam one night and the next morning the citizens awoke to find a large lake filled and running over. Ever since then, (with the possible exception of the last few years), it has been a popular and attractive feature of Boksburg and an integral part of its central area


This completed the picture

of Boksburg as it was to-

wards the end of the 19th

Century- a gold and coal

mining town with associa-   

ted business and residen-

tial development, linked by

rail with Johannesburg and  

by road and wagon with

the rest of Transvaal,

Durban & Delagoa Bay,

administered by a Health

Committee under the juris-

diction of the government

of the Zuid Afrikaansche

Republiek based in Pretoria

under the Presidency of

Stephanus Johannes

Paulus Kruger, its citizens

little knowing of what lay 

ahead in the next century

soon to be ushered in






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       A lazy day spent at the Lake—circa 1920

Dr Willem Eduard Bok

This Municipal Seal was  used officially by the Boksburg Town Council between 1904 and 1957 

Boksburg and East Rand Historical Association