Ferreira's mine stope in downtown JoziMoira de Swardt
Moira de Swardt: One of Joburg's "secret places" is a little mine museum in Standard Bank Head Office, Simmonds Street.
Colonel Ignatius Phillip Ferreira (1840-1921) was a speculator in the diamond rush in Kimberley, the gold rush at Pilgrim's Rest and finally the Witwatersrand. In October 1896 he struck gold and formed the Ferreira Gold Mining Company as well as the miner's camp known as Ferreira's Camp which later became Ferreirasdorp. He eventually lost his share, the mine was abandoned and then forgotten.
Interestingly, Standard Bank was the first bank to establish itself in the new mining town of Johannesburg, in October 1886.
In 1986, exactly one hundred years after the mine and Standard Bank started in Johannesburg, Standard Bank built its head office over this mine. During excavation they found an old stope or access tunnel which is now of great historic importance. The bank preserved the stope and its surrounding area and created a museum which is open during banking hours (08:00 to 16:00). Entrance is free.
To solve the problem of subsidence which had previously prevented the building of high rise buildings on this land the bank's engineers developed a new technique that involved caulking the top of the stopes to stabilise the ground. Some of the underground tunnels were filled with concrete and cement grout.
The museum is very much a one exhibit visit, but it is worth seeing if one is in the area anyway and one can spare the 15-or-so minute detour to see it (including time spent at the museum). It is also worth seeing if one is interested in pre-machinery mining. One can still see the marks on the rocks where the hand tools cut into them.
There has been an attempt to recreate the ambience of one of these mines with dim lighting set in reproduction electric lamps and with sepia photographs.
Standard Bank has got a very informative brochure which accompanies the museum visit and this is also free. There are some pictures of historic buildings on the walls of the three-storey underground museum. Most of these buildings have now been demolished. However, there is a key to the names of these buildings in the brochure.
Ferreira's Mine, Standard Bank Centre, 5 Simmonds Street, 011 636 9111 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 011 636 4207). There is parking available but you will need to telephone first to make arrangements and get directions to which parking they reserve for you.
Moira de Swardt
011 482 7320
082 553 2457