What’s in a street name?
Streets and street names are such an integral part of our lives and yet it is something we all take for granted.
We complain about potholes, road works, toll gates and robots that are out of order and yet, have you ever given any thought to a time when there were no proper roads?
When Alberton was first established as a town in 1904,sand roads and dusty streets were the order of the day and after the proverbial African showers, there was mud all around. The first Health Committee, (equivalent of our municipality today), which was established in 1906 used a contractor who provided a cart and animals to keep the roads in order. The committee took over the task themselves in 1915. Tar roads only began to be constructed in 1933. Scotch carts, ox-wagons, bicycles and horseback were the main means of transport. Even the police used horses to patrol the area, only receiving motorised transport in 1952. Some roads in Alberton North are still extremely wide today which was to allow for the ox-wagons to turn around The original sand roads were numbered as streets running north to south and they were crossed by avenues which were numbered and laid in a north-west to south-west direction. In October of 1938 a decision was made, by the then Town Council, to change certain street names in memory of the “Eeufeesviering” – the celebration of 100 years since the Voortrekkers’ arrival in the Transvaal. The following changes were made; First Street became Piet Retief; Second Street became Gerrit Maritz; Third Street became Hendrik Potgieter; Fourth Street became Louis Trichardt; May Street became Eeufees Street; Hoof Avenue became Charl Cilliers; North Street became Andries Pretorious; South Street became Hans Van Rensburg; East Street became Pieter Uys; West Avenue became Marthinus Oosthuizen and Heidelberg Road became Voortrekker Road.In 1952 Third Avenue was changed to Van Riebeeck Avenue to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the arrival of Jan Van Riebeeck to the Cape.
What about your street’s name? Why is it named what it is, or who is it named after? The Alberton suburbs have such a diversity of names and each has its own story to tell.While Alberton North’s streets were named after Voortrekker heroes, Alberante’s streets were named after Governor’s at the Cape and Randhart’s streets were named after South African poets. Simmer and Jack, the mine, recruited miners from England and it was thought that if New Redruth’s streets were named after towns in England they would be more inclined to come to South Africa.Strangely though, the street names were never advertised to the potential newcomers!
Newmarket’s streets all have a horse racing theme, what with having the racecourse and stables in that area. Mayberry Park’s streets are named after trees, while Brackendowns’ streets are named predominantly after trees and rivers. Brackenhursts streets are named after shrubs and pioneers of Alberton.
Some of the more interesting ones are: Lill Bester Street – Alberton’s first postmistress; McBride Street – Leader of the Irish Brigade in World War 2; Vermooten Street – Pioneer of Alberton and active in the Health Committee; Rae Frankel Street – The first person in Alberton to get a driver’s license; Atmore Street – The first Industrialist in Alberton; Krogh Street – named after the first butcher in Alberton; and of course the street Hennie Alberts is named after General Hendrik Alberts, who was chairman of the syndicate who established Alberton as a town. Meyersdal’s streets are named after past mayors and councillors, for example Louise Harris Crescent, Douglas Harris Crescent, Lindeque Road, Piet Myburgh Street and Johan van der Merwe Drive, to name but a few. Eden Park also has some interesting names. These streets were named after cars but many of the cars are no longer to be found on our roads such as the Daf, Borgward, Terraplane, De Soto and the Hudson.
What about the street names in Alberton. Click on the file below to open it.