Germiston’s history started when a gold prospector, John Jack, discovered gold on the farm Elandsfontein. He and his partner August Simmer promptly bought the farm and started mining. Jack was born on a farm called Germiston, near Glasgow in Scotland, and he named the town that grew up next to the gold mine after his birthplace.
Today, Germiston is the sixth largest city in South Africa and has the largest and most important railway junction in the country. It also boasts the world’s largest gold refinery, the Rand Refinery. The 75-year old refinery handles twenty per cent of the western world’s newly mined gold. Germiston is a very important industrial centre and is home to some 2 000 factories. It remains an important road and rail junction and is well placed for air transport one of the country’s busiest civil airports, Rand Airport, and Johannesburg International Airport are within easy reach.
Katlehong was established almost a century ago to provide accommodation for black mineworkers. The Bedfordview area retains a country atmosphere and a quaint fact is that has no cemetery. Only one person is buried in this area, Sir George Farrar, an early resident, mining magnate and politician.
Art And Crafts
Katlehong Art Centre: The Katlehong Art Centre in the township of Katlehong, south of Germiston, features an extensive collection of modern ethnic township art.
Zicelele Ihlombe Art Gallery: The Zicelele Ihlombe Art Gallery offers the visitor paintings, sculptures, graphic art and beadwork to view or to buy.
Entertainment And Shopping
Bruma Lake Shopping Complex: Bruma Lake is a former waste dam that has been turned into a shopping complex and a water sport venue. Across the road, the Bruma Lake Craft Market is open every day of the week and hosts stalls that sell a wide variety of goods.
Eastgate Shopping Centre: In Bedfordview, 10 minutes drive from Johannesburg International Airport, Eastgate Shopping Centre is a modern shoppers’ Mecca and boasts 250 shops. Many of these shops offer original African goods such as curios, ethnic jewellery, traditional clothing, leather and much, much more. The centre also has many restaurants and coffee shops.
Germiston Lake Bird Sanctuary: The Germiston Lake Bird Sanctuary offers both a safe haven for birds and entertainment for the whole family. A skateboard rink, jungle gyms, slides, seesaws and swings cater for the younger set while the older folk can take leisurely strolls or have picnics and barbecues.
Gillooly’s Farm: Gillooly’s Farm in the centre of Bedfordview is easily accessible and includes barbecue facilities, children’s play equipment, a family golf centre, a cafe and a restaurant. Anglers enjoy a day at the dam and others come for the regular events, such as dog shows, that are held here. The restaurant on the waterfront is also popular.
Fauna And Flora
Rondebult Bird Sanctuary: This Bird Sanctuary along the south eastern border of Germiston provides shelter for many indigenous and migratory water birds and ducks. The sanctuary covers 95 ha of “vlei” and marshland and has seven well-constructed (roofed, carpeted and cushioned) bird hides, all overlooking the water. The hides are considered to be among the ten best bird hides in South Africa and each is equipped with colour photographs of the many species of bird spotted in the sanctuary. Be on the lookout for ibis, purple gallinule, African snipe, black-winged stilt and avocet. The sanctuary is open 7 days a week from 8:00 to 17:00
History And Architecture
Old Masonic Hotel: The Old Masonic Hotel still retains its authentic “broekie lace” wrought iron work.
Sir Herbert Baker’s Architecture: Sir Herbert Baker also left his mark on this city and some of his creations include St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, a famous landmark and visual highlight of the city, St Georges Bishop Haven Primary School in Bedfordview and St Andrew’s Girls School.
Germiston Station: Steam locomotive enthusiasts should make a point of visiting Germiston Station to see the many well-preserved “Puffing Billies” that have come to their final stop here.