1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pretoria
Pretoria, the administrative capital of the Union of South Africa and of the province of the Transvaal, 46 m. by rail N. by E. of Johannesburg. Pop. (1904) 36,839, of whom 21,114 were whites. Pretoria is situated on the banken veld or northern slopes of the high veld, on both banks of the Aapies tributary of the Limpopo, and is 4470 ft. above the sea, being 1300 ft. lower than Johannesburg. Built in a hollow surrounded by hills, the aspect of the town with the river flowing through it and its broad streets lined with willows is picturesque. In summer the heat and moisture are excessive, and the Aapies (which is spanned by four bridges) is liable to floods.
The town is regularly laid out in rectangular blocks of uniform width. The older part lies on the west side of the Aapies River and between it and a smaller stream known as the Spruit. In the centre of this part of Pretoria is Church Square, so named from the Dutch Reformed Church which stood in it, but was demolished in 1905. Government buildings on the south side of the square contain the chambers of the Provincial Council and other public offices. They were erected in 1892 and are a handsome block in Renaissance style, three-storied, with a central tower surmounted by a statue of Liberty. On the north side of the square are the law courts, on the west side the Post Office. The chief banking offices are also in the square.
Running east and west from Church Square is Church Street, the chief business thoroughfare. A little east of Church Square this street opens on to Market Square, with commodious market buildings. The former Presidency, the residence of Paul Kruger, is at the western end of the street near the Spruit. Opposite it is the Dopper Church, in which Kruger used occasionally to preach. Other churches in the heart of the town include the Anglican cathedral, dedicated to St Alban, and the Presbyterian Church, both in Schoemans Street, the Roman Catholic Church in Koch Street with schools, convent buildings and extensive grounds, and the new Dutch Reformed Church in Vermeulen Street. In the north of the town is the National Museum and adjacent are the Zoological Gardens. Other public buildings are the government library, the University College and the opera house. East of the Aapies and on the slopes of the hills are the residential districts of Arcadia, Sunnyside and Muckleneuk. Bryntirion, a suburb on the northern slopes of the hills, contains the residences of the chief officials, including Government House. Here is Meintjes Kop, with a broad natural shelf midway below the summit. This shelf was chosen in 1909 as the site of the public offices of the Union. The designs of Mr Herbert Baker were accepted for two large blocks of identical design connected by a semicircular colonnade (passing behind the narrow kloof which bisects the shelf). Besides other open spaces there is Burger’s park, originally planned, during the first British occupation, as a botanical garden. It is beautifully wooded and through it runs the Spruit. A park and sports ground at the western end of the town contains the pedestal for a statue of President Kruger. The statue itself remained for years at Lourenço Marques and appears to have been lost. Adjoining this park on the north is the cemetery. Among those buried there are Kruger and many of the British who fell during the war of 1899–1902. Signal Hill, which rises 400 ft. above the plain, is west of the park. The plateau at its foot was the site of the English laager during the war of 1880–81, and is now occupied by the central railway station and workshops. North of the cemetery is the prison, a building which replaces a notoriously insanitary gaol used during the republican régime.
The water supply of Pretoria is drawn from the source of the Aapies River, where rise magnificent springs. The Fountains, as they are called, are 3 m. west of Pretoria. Some 3 m. north of the town is the Wonderboom, an enormous wild fig-tree, the only one of its kind in the district. At West Fort, 7 m. from the town, is a leper asylum; at Waterval, 15 m. north, the British prisoners captured by the Boers up to the fall of Pretoria were confined. Thirty miles east by north of Pretoria is the Premier Diamond mine. Bronkhorst Spruit, where in December 188O a detachment of British soldiers was ambushed by the Boers, lies about 30 m. east by south of the town.
History.—Pretoria was founded in 1855, the ground on which it stands being purchased by the Boer government from Marthinus Pretorius. It was made the centre of a new district created at the same time, both town and district being named in honour of Andries Pretorius. By treaty between the South African Republic (then comprising the districts of Potchefstroom, Rustenburg, Pretoria and Zoutpansberg) and the republic of Lydenburg, concluded at Pretoria in 1860, the two republics were united and Pretoria chosen as the capital of the whole state, and in September of that year the Volksraad held its first meeting in the new capital. Until 1864, however, when the civil war in the Transvaal ended, Potchefstroom remained the virtual capital of the country. From that year the seat of government has always been at Pretoria. There in 1877 Sir Theophilus Shepstone proclaimed the annexation of the Transvaal to Great Britain. In December 188O it was invested by the Boers, but held out until the conclusion of peace. In 1881 the convention restoring self-government to the Transvaal was signed at Pretoria. From that time until 1900 the dominating figure in the town was that of the president—Paul Kruger. As revenue flowed in from the gold-mines on the Rand many fine buildings were erected in the capital, which was placed in railway communication with Cape Town in 1893 and with Lourenco Marques and Durban in 1895. To Pretoria Dr Jameson and his troopers were brought prisoners (January 1896) after the fight at Doornkop (to be handed over in a few days to the British government), and thither also were brought the Reform Committee prisoners from Johannesburg. In May 1900 Kruger fled from the town, which on the 5th of June surrendered without resistance to Lord Roberts, despite its formidable encircling forts, which however were never effectively armed. On the 31st of May 1902 the articles of peace whereby the Boer leaders recognized British sovereignty were signed at Pretoria, and five years later there assembled in the capital the first parliament of the Transvaal as a self-governing state of the British Empire. On the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910 Pretoria became its administrative capital, the seat of the legislature being however at Cape Town. The Transvaal parliament was replaced by a Provincial Council (see Transvaal: § History).
The town is governed by a municipality, which since 1903 has acquired control of the sanitary service, water supply, electric lighting and tramways. In 1909 the proportional representation system was adopted for the election of town councillors.