KwaZulu-Natal Heritage Preservation Initiative


Pietermaritzburg- Now and Then

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The foundation stone of the legislative building was laid on 21 June 1887, to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. The legislative building was completed two years later. On 25 April 1889, the Governor of Natal, Sir Arthur Havelock, opened the first Legislative Council session in the new building.

Anglo-Zulu War Memorial in Pietermaritzburg

The present City Hall was built on the site of the Volksraadsaal of the Voortrekkers and completed in 1900. On June 6, 1969, the Pietermaritzburg City Hall was declared a National Monument.
It is notable for its fine stained-glass windows and domes and, according to Ripley’s “Believe it or not!” is the largest all-brick building south of the Equator.
One of the most important features of the City Hall is the clock tower, which rises majestic 47 metes from the pavement to the finial at the top of the tower. The clock itself is a Westminster 4/4 chime Tower Clock and was manufactured by Gillette and Johnston of Croydon, England.
It began to keep track of time on June 16, 1900, at precisely the same hour of the day as its predecessor, which stopped; due to a fire on July 12, 1898 when the first City Hall was destroyed. The dials of the clock are on the fifth storey of the tower and the 12 city bells are in the belfry above. The first chime of each hour denotes the correct time. Gillette and Johnston also manufactured the carillon in the belfry of the clock tower. It is an automatic machine similar to a music box and has a repertoire of several tunes. The carillon can also be rung by an experienced bell-ringer, as the bells are fitted with a set of 12 smaller hammers on the inside, with ropes attached. Brindley and Foster built the magnificent organ in 1901, replacing the original pipe organ destroyed in the 1898 blaze. The second organ, reputed to be one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, was modernised in 1975 and equipped with a mobile console, making it one of the finest in the world.

A statue of British South African statesman Sir Theophilus Shepstone (January 8 1817 – June 23 1893) in Pietermaritzburg

At Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, the queen’s statue was unveiled by the British colonial governor of Natal, Sir Charles Mitchell. The monument, commissioned for the Golden Jubilee, was one of many Jubilee commissions received by Joseph Edgar Boehm, the Austro-Hungarian portrait sculptor. In addition to designing the queen’s portrait for the newly-minted Jubilee coinage, he made Jubilee statues for cities in Britain and abroad, including Windsor Park, Balmoral, and Bristol, as well as Madras and Sydney.


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