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NZASM Station Master's House
Pretoria, Gauteng

Johannes Rienk BURG: Architect

Date:1887
Client:NZASM
Type:Homestead
Style:Eclectic ZA Wilhelmiens
Status:Extant

The building was designed as a type building for the establishment of the Nedelandsche Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorweg-Maatschkappij (NZASM – Netherlands South African Railway Company) in 1887. This was a joint endeavour by the Government of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR, Old South African or Transvaal Republic, 1885-1902) and the Dutch to give the Republic access to a harbour on the eastern seaboard, specifically through the port of Lorenço Marques (now Maputo) in the then Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique), and thereby secure their independence from the British through having access to an independent harbour.

To this end many professional engineers, architects and draughtsman were imported into the Republic, many of whom stayed, despite the set-back to the endeavour by the South Africa War (1899-1902, also known as the Boer War, Anglo-Boer War or Second War of Independence), which saw the loss of much of the infrastructure through the deliberate demolition by dynamiting strategic structures, particularly bridges, by the Boers (See In Memoriam. NZASM 1909. Amsterdam: De Bussy).

The architect most likely for the design of the type houses, meant for use by employees of NZASM, was Johannes Rienk BURG (6 Mar 1874 - 6 Mar 1960). These were built in towns and at places along the entire stretch of the line up to Komatipoort.

The establishment of type housing plays a significant role in South African political and cultural history and when these are placed within a broader perspective of ideology, capitalist ambition and political control they become important documents in the historical record.

This example fall into a period now termed Wilhelmiens and though simple in plan have the distinguishing stoep (verandah) of South African homes with its distinctive stickwork decoration of the period. These have been lost on the cited example and replaced with steel post and timber beam.

[Roger Charles FISHER.]

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.