“In loving memory”, this was the phrase I saw over and over again on a recent tour of Brixton Cemetery with The Johannesburg Heritage Foundation. This was my second tour with them, you can read about my first tour of New Doornfontein. What I like most about this foundation is that they are a bunch of people passionate about the heritage & culture of this city. These tours are so fascinating and interesting and are lead by guides who are just brimming with facts and stories of Johannesburg.
And Now For Something Completely Different: Brixton Cemetery
The tour of Brixton Cemetery covered the graves of three Baronets and their Lady wives, Randlords and a few important people who shaped Johannesburg: James Hall (of the James Hall Museum of Transport fame) and George Ness who was responsible for the ornamental brass and iron work for Herbert Baker.
I spotted a few graves dedicated to very young men who perished in the First World War and some war memorials dedicated to men who fought in WW2. Recently the Department of Art & Culture erected a memorial dedicated to the 146 indentured mine workers whose remains were found on Langlaagte farm, Crown Mines, Johannesburg.
Joburg has always had far more troublemakers than dutiful servants, and we ended off our tour of Brixton Cemetery on a suitably ghoulish note – the victims of Daisy de Melker. Do you know about her? She poisoned two husbands with strychnine for their life insurance in the 1920’s, and then poisoned her only son with arsenic in 1931. She is the second woman to have been hanged in South Africa.
Brixton Cemetery is in bad shape. I heard on Radio 702 that there just isn’t enough budget or resources to maintain the graveyards in the city. It is a shame though. Walking around the graves made me think about what I would want when my time came. I was up close and personal with death, can you blame me?
Brixton Cemetery in Photos:
I decided to process all the images in Black & White. It just felt right. The bare trees of winter just added to the eeriness of the photos.
There were some beautiful headstones at Brixton Cemetery. Here is a small selection of my favourites:
Joburg Heritage Foundation
Telephone: 011 482 3349
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