Benoni is a city / town in Gauteng province on the East Rand. If you’re someone that frequently uses the R21 or N12 highway, you’ve probably seen this name on the road signs, but there’s probably a lot of things that you don’t know about it.
Here are 10 Facts that you didn’t know about Benoni
1. It’s name has biblical origins
The origin of the name Benoni stems from the Bible, Genesis chapter 35, verse 18, and means “Son of my sorrow”.
2. There are a lot of horses in Benoni
The city has more horse stables per square kilometre than anywhere else in the Southern Hemisphere.
3. The city / town is more than 100 years old
People have been living in the area since 1881, but the city primarily exists because gold was discovered here in 1887 (one year after the city of Johannesburg was founded). Benoni was officially declared as a town in 1907. The first synagogue and the Benoni Race Track were opened in that year.
4. The Benoni Citi Times newspaper has been around for almost 100 years
The newspaper was founded by William Hills in 1921.
5. Benoni’s street names have an interesting history
The demolition of buildings brought change to the town, such as street names being changed. Fort Street became Voortrekker Street and Bedford Street became Tom Jones Street.
6. The city has had its fair share of notable residents
The city is the former home of Oliver Tambo (the former president of the ANC), Charlize Theron (the Oscar Winning Actress), Bryan Habana (the famous Springbok rugby player), Princess Charlene (the consort of Prince Albert ll of Monaco) and Grace Mugabe (the former first lady of Zimbabwe).
7. St Columba’s is Benoni’s oldest school
It was founded in 1909 by the Dominican Sisters and originally called the Benoni Dominican Convent. In 1983 the school changed its name to St Columba’s.
8. The Chimes Tavern is one of the oldest pubs in South Africa
This Benoni pub was originally built as a watering hole for the many expat miners that came to seek their fortunes in 1889. That makes it 130 years old. In the early days The Chimes Tavern was a rambunctious place. Miners would sometimes enter the bar without bothering to get off their horses.
9. In the early years the primary teaching medium in Benoni was English
Dutch was only introduced as a teaching medium in 1917.
10. South African Air Force piliots were trained here during World War 2
Pilots were trained at the old Benoni Flying Field. This station was established on 11 November 1940 and opened on 1 September 1941. It was disbanded on 24 June 1945. The station was closed on 22 July 1946. Aircraft stationed here included Tiger Moths, Hornet Moths, Rearwin 7000, Harts, Audaxes and Harvards.
Well, there you have it, 10 Benoni facts that you might not have known. Feel free to share any Benoni facts that I missed in the comments section below.
Watch this space for regular updates in the Facts category on Running Wolf’s Rant.