Pretoria's peaceful heart in Burgers Park

Statue of President Thomas Burgers by Lithuanian artist Moses Kottler. It was unveiled in the park in 1953.
Statue of President Thomas Burgers by Lithuanian artist Moses Kottler. It was unveiled in the park in 1953.

The park is a dream

President Thomas Burgers of the then Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR), the Boer republic which became the Transvaal Province before becoming Gauteng in 1994, wanted in 1874 to create a botanical garden on some land which he set aside for the project.

Pretoria was the capital of the ZAR and gold was yet to be discovered on the Witwatersrand, so there was no Johannesburg, which only came into being in 1886 when the gold reef started to attract thousands of people in search of their fortunes.

But in 1874 money was rather scarce in the ZAR and Burgers' dream was not affordable to the public purse, and so the land was not used, except for the planting of a few trees.

After the discovery of gold in 1886 funds became available to realise Burgers's dream and the park was laid out by a prominent and very wealthy Pretoria resident George Heys, who's residence, Melrose House, was opposite the main gate of the park.This house is also important for being the venue of the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging which ended the Boer War in May 1902.

Heys collaborated with the botanist James Hunter in the park's design. The laying out of the park was completed in 1892.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The fish pond which is the focal point of the park. The cast iron bandstandThe neo-classical pavilion seen from the main gagte of the park.Looking back at the main gate from inside the pavilionLooking through one of the arches of the pavilion at the park.A bougainvillea blooming at a corner of the pavilionThe park keeper's house built in 1904A view of the 1974 florariumThe gazebo near the park keeper's houseThe park is a lovely place to relax in the sunThe monument to the officers and men of the Transvaal Scottish who were killed in World War I.Melrose House, opposite the main gate of the park. The park was once surrounded by similar housesOne of the large trees in the park.
The fish pond which is the focal point of the park.
The fish pond which is the focal point of the park.
The cast iron bandstand
The cast iron bandstand
The neo-classical pavilion seen from the main gagte of the park.
The neo-classical pavilion seen from the main gagte of the park.
Looking back at the main gate from inside the pavilion
Looking back at the main gate from inside the pavilion
Looking through one of the arches of the pavilion at the park.
Looking through one of the arches of the pavilion at the park.
A bougainvillea blooming at a corner of the pavilion
A bougainvillea blooming at a corner of the pavilion
The park keeper's house built in 1904
The park keeper's house built in 1904
A view of the 1974 florarium
A view of the 1974 florarium
The gazebo near the park keeper's house
The gazebo near the park keeper's house
The park is a lovely place to relax in the sun
The park is a lovely place to relax in the sun
The monument to the officers and men of the Transvaal Scottish who were killed in World War I.
The monument to the officers and men of the Transvaal Scottish who were killed in World War I.
Melrose House, opposite the main gate of the park. The park was once surrounded by similar houses
Melrose House, opposite the main gate of the park. The park was once surrounded by similar houses
One of the large trees in the park.
One of the large trees in the park.

The structures

The fish pond dates from the 1890s and was meant to symbolise life in the city centre.

The cast iron band stand with its Chinese pagoda-style roof was actually made in Scotland by Walter MacFarlane and was erected in the park in 1895. On cool summer evenings the band of the 24th Regiment of Roberts Heights (now known as Thabo Tshwane) would entertain visitors to the park from the bandstand.

In the middle of the park is a small pavilion with a refreshment kiosk. It is built in 1911 in a neo-classical style and was designed by Vivian Rees-Poole. This pavilion ws the scene of a glamorous dinner to welcome home the then Prime Minister of South Africa, General Louis Botha, and his wife, back to South Africa after they had attended the coronation of King George V in England in September 1911.

A house for the permanent park keeper was built in 1904. This quaint little building was designed by the Government Engineer and head of the Public Works Department Sytze Wierda, who had been appointed by President Paul Kruger in 1887. Wierda was from the Netherlands.

A florarium was built in 1974. It houses a large variety of plants from four climatic regions.

Near the Park Keeper's house is a gazebo which was rescued from one of the Victorian houses which once surrounded the park.


A note on the text and images

All the photos in this Hub were taken by Tony McGregor and are copyright by him. Feel free to use anything from this Hub but I would appreciate acknowledgment and attribution. Thank you.

Text and photos © Tony McGregor 2010

Burgers Park

A markerBurgers Park, Pretoria -
Burgers Park, Pretoria 0002, South Africa
[get directions]

A haven of tranquility in the midst of Pretoria, historic Burgers Park is a place of rest and relaxation

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Comments 24 comments

"Quill" 6 years ago

Well done Tony... something we have come to anticipate from your writing.

Blessings and Hugs


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

I agree with the "Quill". Beautiful Tony BrotherMan. Son- I love your comments where you go too. I'm paying attention! God bless Tony!


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

Wonderful to see people's taxes being used properly :-)


tlpoague profile image

tlpoague 6 years ago from USA

Interesting hub! I have met a few people from South Africa and listen to their stories of the places they live or have lived. It is amazing to see pictures to go with their stories. I will have to put this on my wish list of places to see. Thank you for sharing.


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

Tony, I liked this much, It makes me wonder about life in general there as well as the type of government you have?

50


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

It's a delightful meander through a place combining nature and lovely man-made objects and architecture. I just love arboretums which almost seem to take one out of the ordinary into the extraordinary - and this certainly does! Thank you and kudos, Tony!


always exploring profile image

always exploring 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

This is a beautiful part of the world. I never thought of Africa being beautiful until i started reading your very informative hubs. Thank you.

Love and Peace


Sa`ge profile image

Sa`ge 6 years ago from Barefoot Island

this is a great hub thank you, this is some place that I knew nothing about. keep me dancing. :D hugs :D


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Quill - appreciate your stopping by and leaving such kind words. Thank you.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Micky - thanks for stopping by! My brotherman I'm grateful for your support.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Dimitris - indeed, it is! Thanks for the comment.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

tlpoague - thanks for the kindwords and yes, it's a lovely country I am privileged to live in. Very much worth a visit!

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

50 - thanks for stopping by. We have a democratic government since the negotiated end of the apartheid regime in 1994. Our politicians are generally corrupt and liars like those of most, if not all, other countries. So generally I just laugh at them and carry on living!

Thanks again

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Nellieanna - I am very touched by your kind words, and very grateful. Thank you.

I love places like this park which seem to hold so much of human value within their borders.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Ruby - thanks for stopping by. Africa is a beautiful continent and I am privileged to live in a beautiful corner of it! So glad that you enjoy my humble efforts at showing the beauty.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Sa'ge - I love to write about the things around me and to share them with others. Thanks for stopping by.

Love and peace

Tony


Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 6 years ago

It's a beautiful park, and a good history to go with it. :)


Raymond Tremain profile image

Raymond Tremain 6 years ago from Metro Manila Philippines

Just beautifull Tony, its good to see where each one lives and their country great pix, the park looks good its worth it when lovely parks are made for many just to enjoy and rest.

God loves you

Ramon


Will Apse profile image

Will Apse 6 years ago

I'm addicted to parks and walking, in general. Yesterday, when I headed down to our little local park, the nearby river was just in the act of overflowing- Thailand is suffering way too much rain right now.

It was horrible to watch the waters rising. So it was a pleasure to read about Burgers Park and know other people care about their parks too!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Ingenira - thanks for the comment and glad you enjoyed the Hub.

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Raymond - thanks for the lovely comment. I appreciate that you took the time to visit and glad you enjoyed the stroll around the park!

Love and peace

Tony


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Will - I also love parks and wandering through them. We are so fortunate to have some lovely ones around where we live.

Hope your park has survived the flooding!

Love and peace

Tony


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

What a great structure and workmanship! Thanks for the enriching report on Pretorias peaceful heart in Burgers Park. Fabulous! Love and Peace :)


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Katie - I really appreciate your visit and comment! Glad you enjoyed!

Love and peace

Tony

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