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Town Hall
Pretoria, Gauteng

John RALSTON: Architect

Type:Town Hall
Street:Pretorius St

(dem 1973) (SAAR Jun 1926:35-7 ill; SAWW 1908; fndtn stn Apr 1905)

In the Mayor's Minute issued by the Municipality of Pretoria for 1905, one of the matters which had concerned the administration of the Municipality and which had merited inclusion in the Minute, was the laying of the foundation stone for the new Municipal Offices. A transcription of the text is provided below:


The new Municipal Offices which the Council had decided to build in Pretoria, were begun shortly after my accession to office, and on the 12th April, 1905, Mrs. Andrew Johnston performed the ceremony of laying the foundation stone, in commemoration of which a handsome silver trowel was presented to her.

It is hoped that these offices will not only provide adequate accommodation for the staff of the Municipality, but also that the Hall, which is connected with the building, will supply a want which has been long felt in this town. It is calculated that the building will be completed during the month of November next, and that they will be occupied early in January.


The Report of the Town Engineer (H D Badcock) for the year 1st October, 1904 to 30th September, 1905, included as Appendix No. 2 in the Mayor's Minute noted above, also mentioned the new building and a transcription of the text is provided below:


The tender of Mr W R DEY in the sum of £23,350 for the erection of new Municipal Offices, designed by Mr. J A Ralston was accepted on the 19th January (1905). The work is nearing completion, and it is hoped that the Council will be in occupation on the 1st January 1906.

Ref: Minute of His Worship the Mayor ( Andrew Johnson) for the Mayoral Year ending 25th October 1905, Municipality of Pretoria. Wallachs, Pretoria, 1905: Pages 14 & 61.

[William MARTINSON, November 2010]

This is of the earliest Baker School styled buildings in Pretoria following the style of BAKER's Governor General's Residence and hence predating both his Station and the Union Building which makes it significant in the legacy of South African architecture.

Lola Dunston writes in her book Young Pretoria, 1975: 228 :-

"It was the destruction of this Town Hall in 1973 that aroused in the heart of the author such indignation and sorrow that she was determined to write this book. At the time she wrote a short poem to mark the passing of that lovely building."

The poem is reproduced here.

Farewell old Town Hall
No longer shall we gaze
Upon your gentle face
A gaping hole beneath my sole
Is the sad remain of your proud domain.

No, not defacing
Is the answer to replacing.
Destroying tradition, craving demolition
Is that man’s new ambition?

A Roman wall still stands tall
In parts of the world,
Yet for greed of gold
Sixty odd years is old.

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Writings about this entry

Dunston, Lola & Dunston, Tom. 1975. Young Pretoria 1889-1913. Pretoria: Dunston. pg 228-229 ill
Municipality of Pretoria. 1905. Minute of His Worship the Mayor for the Mayoral Year Ending Oct. 25, 1905. Pretoria: Wallachs. pg 14, 61