In search of Orchards' Oldest Buildings

The suburbs of Norwood, Orchards and The Gardens were all founded in 1902, and are therefore amongst the oldest suburbs in Johannesburg.


Orchards was the first to be advertised, in The Star of 17 March 1902, and was laid out on a portion of FDJ Viljoen’s farm. The 1902 advertisement includes information on existing buildings on the estate: “There is a first class residence and a homestead on the estate…”.


Two days later, a preliminary announcement for the auction of stands states: “On one portion of the Estate is erected a well-built burnt-brick residence containing 9 rooms …On another portion of the estate is erected a Homestead containing 5 rooms…”


Do these buildings still exist? And if so, where are they located?


We investigated some possible options…

 11 High Road


11 High Road has a typically Victorian façade, its veranda supported by cast-iron columns with decorative filigree, and it has a fine bay window. 

Original plans do exist – the house was built for R Wiede, and though the date on the plans is difficult to read it appears to be 23/01/03. This makes it a contender for our neighbourhood’s oldest structure, but means that it cannot be one of the estate’s original buildings.



15 Sunnyside Road


15 Sunnyside Road has typical Victorian and Edwardian features too. Original plans exist for the structure, and despite the rather “old fashioned” architectural features, the house dates back to 1922! 

23 Orange Road


Another contender is 23 Orange Road. This is now the consulting rooms and home of Dr Cockram, and those who have visited Dr Cockram will attest to its impressively thick walls. The earliest plan on file is for an addition to an existing structure, and dates back to 1917. Elevations for the existing structure are provided, indicating that no plans existed for it at the time that the addition was proposed. 

Even more interesting is the fact that the existing structure straddles three erven over two suburbs!

The existing structure has 5 rooms, and its layout would suggest a Boer homestead. There is a very strong possibility that this is the “Homestead” described in the initial auction notice, and that this building is the oldest in our neighbourhood.



And what of the 9 room residence? There are rumours that it may be situated at 6 Oaklands Road, but we do not have any information to corroborate this.  


Two other notable structures should be mentioned: St Luke’s Church and the Good Shepherd Home.


The original part of St Luke’s, situated on the corner of Oaklands and High, was completed in 1907, and the architect was Sir Herbert Baker.

 Substantial changes were made in the 1950s, including the construction of the tower with its rose window.


The Good Shepherd Home at 57 Oaklands Road was founded in 1904. Though the use of the buildings has changed, the beautiful Good Shepherd Home (designed by Beardwood in 1923) and Chapel (designed by Emley and Williamson in 1926) remain.


This fascinating photo dates back to the 1920s, before the impressive Plane trees had been planted.


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