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Central, Pretoria, Gauteng

Sytze Wopkes WIERDA: Design Architect
John Johnston KIRKNESS: Contractor
HOLM JORDAAN HOLM: Restoration Architects 1991

Type:Government Buildings
Street:Church Square


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25°44'49.65" S 28°11'15.92" E

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The Foundation Stone of which was laid in 1889 by President Kruger. All the doors and windows for this building were made in Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, by Samuel Baikie & Company - owned by the father-in-law to John KIRKNESS, contractor to the project, - shipped from there to Durban, railed to Charleston, the rail terminus at that time, and transported by wagon to Pretoria.

"Eendragt Maakt Magt"

A massive and glorious pile of buildings, considered by some to be the most imposing structure in Africa. They were begun in 1889, and completed in 1891, at a cost of £175 000. The carving above the portico, of the Transvaal arms, in white stone, with the national motto, quoted above ("Union makes strength"), is a very fine piece of work; as is also the statue of Liberty , which crowns the edifice. The chambers for the first and second Volksraads are beautiful rooms, and the whole building is a credit to its architects.

Ref: Photographs of South Africa Comprising Representative Views etc, The South African Photo-Publishing Company, Cape Town, 1894: Pg 145.

[Submitted by William MARTINSON, December 2010]

RAADZAAL, PRETORIA. – The chief architectural glory of Pretoria is the Raadzaal, or Government Buildings, which occupies one side of Church Square. This handsome and imposing structure has a frontage 175 feet (53.34m) wide, a depth of 220 feet (67.06m), and a height of 125 feet (38.1m) from the ground to the top of the figure of Liberty, which surmounts the entrance; it contains two Chambers for the Volksraad, the President's and all the Public Offices of the State. The first Volksraad Chamber, in which portraits of President Kruger, Commandant-General Joubert, and General Smit are placed, is a spacious hall 64 feet (19.51m) wide and 42 feet (12.8m) high; and the second chamber is 44 feet (13.41m) by 44 feet. On the ground floors there are fire-proof rooms, where the State archives and land registers are deposited. The buildings are erected from designs by Mr. WIERDA, the Government Architect, at a total cost of £138,000.

[Anon, c. 1899. Picturesque South Africa - An album of Photographic Views. Cape Town: Dennis Edwards & Co. p 176.]

Writings about this entry

Bakker, Karel A, Clarke, Nicholas J & Fisher, Roger C. 2014. Eclectic ZA Wilhelmiens : A shared Dutch built heritage in South Africa. Pretoria: Visual Books. pg 43-46, 53, 75, 78, 80-81, 136, 164, 205, 207, 209, 211
Dunston, Lola & Dunston, Tom. 1975. Young Pretoria 1889-1913. Pretoria: Dunston. pg various - see book index
Greig, Doreen. 1971. A Guide to Architecture in South Africa. Cape Town: Howard Timmins. pg 53, 191-192
Holm, Albrecht & Viljoen, Diedré. 1993. Mure wat praat : die verhaal van die ou Raadsaal en sy mense. Mellville: Chris van Rensburg. pg All
Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1977. Victorian Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pg 4, 273, 275 ill, 276-279, 290
Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pg 166, 167 ill
Swart, Johan & Proust, Alain. 2019. Hidden Pretoria. Cape Town: Struik Lifestyle. pg 48-55
Holm, Dieter Kerkplaats and Capitalists: The First Architects in Context: in Fisher, RC, Le Roux, SW and Maré, E (Eds). 1998. Architecture of the Transvaal: pp 64