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Tudor Chambers
Central, Pretoria, Gauteng

John ELLIS: Architect

Type:Offices with shops to street
Style:Art Nouveau


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25°44'47.73" S 28°11'20.62" E Alt: 1322m

Tudor Chambers was originally a speculative development intended for street-level retail and luxury offices in typical high-street or city-centre square fashion.

Coach magnate and businessman George Heys purchased the site in 1893 and set in motion the construction of Tudor Chambers, designed by British architect John ELLIS, in 1903 with material imported from Scotland by Heys’s own maritime transport company. It had Heys’s own offices. Heys had had Melrose House built as his own residence.

Its architecture is typical of the late Victorian but untypical in its place, being an Arts and Crafts Tudor Revival with distinctive Art Nouveau features in the decorative framing of the shop-windows at ground floor retail, and in the brassware furnishings of the three upper storeys. With its parapets and corner tower it was the tallest building in Pretoria at the time of its construction. Over time the building fell into disrepair, the roof deteriorating to such an extent that the building repeatedly flooded, causing damage to walls, floors and ceilings in addition to the exterior damage by the elements. The original tower was lost in a windstorm and it is now commemorated in a newly configured steel structure of lighter construction so as to be less prone to wind load.

It was purchased in 2007 by Alec Wapnick of City Property, an ardent art lover and property magnate. Wapnick has also purchased all the furniture and photographs of the office of JG Heys (No 3 Tudor Chambers) as well as the counter of the maritime transport and insurance company which Heys undertook in the next door office (No 2 Tudor Chambers). A museologist has restored the furniture and reconstructed the office in Alec Wapnick’s private gallery.

Restored in 2008 for the City Property Group by GAPP Architects & Urban Designers. Nicholas CLARKE of ARCHIFACTS acted as heritage consultant to CULTMATRIX on the project.

See also articles on CITY PROPERTY.

Writings about this entry

Dunston, Lola & Dunston, Tom. 1975. Young Pretoria 1889-1913. Pretoria: Dunston. pg 57, 63, 92, 94, 98, 104, 113, 131, 158, 172, 218