A man who became emotional about a pipe organ, a doctor concerned about the human consumption of patent medicine (including wolf poison) and the owner of one of the first shops of Potchefstroom all gave their names to these street names.
Paul Schutte Street (Dassierand) was named after Commandant PJW (Paul) Schutte of Buffeldoorns (near Mponeng Mine), who was a member for Potchefstroom of the first republican Volksraad. He was also one of the co-signatories of the Zandrivier Convention with which the Transvaal received its independence. He was one of the founding members of the Reformed Church and in 1858 fetched Rev Dirk Postma by ox-wagon in Durban when he came to the Transvaal. Postma delivered his first sermon in the Transvaal on 7 November 1858 at Buffeldoorns. It was during his visit to Buffeldoorns that plans to found the Reformed Church was made. The church was founded in Rustenburg on 10 February 1859.
In 1985 the Potchefstroom branch of the Foundation Simon van der Stel was planning on restoring the residence on Buffeldoorns, built by Paul Schutte, which still stood at the time.
Paul Street (South)
TC de Klerk, who researched the origins of the street names in the 1960s, had no explanation for the origin of the name of Paul Street. It is suggested that it might have been named after President Paul Kruger.
Pavey Street (Baillie Park)
Eduard Pavey acquired the property on the north-eastern corner of Potgieter and Church Streets (Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu) in 1853. The shop known as Pavey and Reid was built on the property in 1861. The shop fronted on Church Street and the Pavey family’s house next to it on Potgieter Street. By 1880 it was known as Reid & Co. This business existed until 1898 when the stock of the shop worth £20 000 was sold for half the price to Carl Ludwig Olen who started to work for the business as a seventeen year old clerk shortly after the Scandinavians arrived in Potchefstroom in 1864.
In 1870 a Portuguese visitor to Potchefstroom, Fernando da Costa Leal gave a vivid picture of a typical shop at the time: “The farmers with their large felt hats adorned with ostrich feathers and women with big headdresses with flaps go from shop to shop which are all of them full of people from morning till night.”
The building was demolished to build the King’s Hotel in 1902 that still stands.
The first church organ north of the Vaal River
Perold Street (Potchindustria)
JS Perold was a businessman of Potchefstroom, but also played an important role in the music history of the city. In 1888 he became the organist of the Hervormde Church. This was before the church had a pipe organ and supposedly a harmonium, also known as a reed organ, was used.
Arthur Wegelin told the story of how the first church organ came to Potchefstroom in his publication about the music life of Potchefstroom from 1838 to 1925.
Perold’s big dream was to acquire a pipe organ for the church and he was in all probability the driving force behind the founding of an organ committee. It was decided to order an organ from Bevington and Sons in London, UK. The organ was brought by ship to Cape Town and then by rail to Vryburg. The well-known Boer War scout, Arie Jonas, was sent to Vryburg to fetch the organ and bring it to Potchefstroom by ox-wagon.
While the organ was under way, the organ gallery was built.
The ox-wagon carrying this precious cargo was met outside the town by Mr Perold. He walked next to the wagon, his eyes focussed on the cargo “as if it was the most precious treasure in the whole world”. Perold, with the help of a Mr Celliers and a Mr Du Plessis assembled the organ, without the help of a trained organ builder.
The organ was inaugurated during a ceremony in November 1891. It was the first pipe organ to be installed in a church in the Transvaal. He was organist for this church for 25 years but never received any remuneration.
Perold had a business in town selling “high class drapery, boots, shoes and dressmaking.” His wife and children also played an important role in the music scene in town at the time. His son, Jan, was regarded as a wonder child of Potchefstroom, received musical training and succeeded his father as organist of the church. His daughter, Lenie, later became a conductor of a choir in Pretoria.
JS Perold was a member of the last school board of Potchefstroom before the Anglo-Boer War. After the war he was elected as a member of the first town council of Potchefstroom in 1903.
Boer and Brit fell in love
Perrin Street (Central)
was named after Mr John Perrin, a well-known businessman of Potchefstroom. He came to Potchefstroom as a British soldier during the Anglo-Boer War. Here he met his future wife, Anna Grimbeek, shortly after she and her mother were released from a concentration camp in Natal. According to family legend he was the heir of a British aristocratic title, but renounced the title to marry Anna and live in South Africa. He built the house that is now known as the Grimbeek House in Herman Street, Grimbeekpark for Anna in 1906. See my article on the Old Grimbeekhuis. Due to ill health they moved to 76 Lombard Street (James Moroka) in 1928. Perrin’s mill was situated in Church Street (Walter Sisulu) where Daly Ford is today. Mr Perrin sold his mill to a Mr Paulie Raubenheimer. It was alleged that he was one of the first motor car owners in Potchefstroom and one of the first who had a telephone installed in his house. John Perrin died on 8 January 1939, followed by his wife Anna exactly a month later on 8 February 1939.
Phillips Street (Central)
The Street was named after a former town clerk of Potchefstroom, who served for a number of years. He later became secretary to the Transvaal Health Board for Peri-urban Areas and moved to Pretoria.
Long-standing rugby president
Piet Bosman Street – formerly Stasie Road (Central) was named after a Potchefstroom sports administrator and honorary vice-president of the SA Rugby Union. When he was unanimously re-elected as president of the Western Transvaal Rugby Union in February 1975, Piet Bosman was the longest serving president of any rugby union in the country. He served since 1953. When he passed away in 2001 at the age of 93 he still held the record.
Bosman retired as manager of a local bank at the end of 1973, according to an article in the Herald on 31 January 1975. It states that Bosman brought a stability to the Union, that he saw to it that the finances of the Union are in order and that he always had the interest of rugby and the Union at heart.
He passed away in May 2001 at the age of 93. His obituary on news24.com on 30 May 2001 states:
Apart from a keen interest in the administration of the game, he was also a very competent referee and handled over 50 provincial games in his 18 years with the whistle.
As an administrator he served for a record term of 26 years on the South African Rugby Board, 10 of those as member of the executive committee.
Piet Cronje Street (Baillie Park)
was named after the Boer General Piet Cronjé (1836 – 1911) under whose command the successful siege of the fort of Potchefstroom was held from December 1880 to March 1881. During the Second Anglo-Boer War Cronjé surrendered at Paardeberg with more than 4 000 men, generally regarded as one of the turning points in the war in favour of the British forces. In a letter addressed to the city council in 13 October 1953, Rev Johannes Dreyer recommended that a street be named after him. He wrote that although Cronjé was a “Schoonspruiter”, meaning that he lived in the Klerksdorp area, he also resided for some time in Potchefstroom.
He took part in the Anglo-Boer War re-enactments at the World’s Fair in St Louis in the USA in 1904. This did not sit well with South Africans and the local press named him the “circus general”. He did not return afterwards but also took part in a show on Coney Island in New York. Cronje was lured to the USA with promises of making money, which came to nothing. He passed away on 4 February 1911 at Potchefstroom.
Piet van der Merwe Street (Bult)
This street is now tucked away inside the campus of the NWU. It was named after the father of the second principal of the Potchefstroom Teachers Training College, Prof PJ van der Merwe. According to Senex it appears that the professor’s father and mother first met each other in Potchefstroom and were married in the old church that stood on the corner of Van Riebeeck and Potgieter Street (Peter Mokaba and Nelson Mandela).
Piet Uys Street (Central)
was named after a former town treasurer, whose career was cut short by his unexpected demise.
Composer of note
Pieter de Villiers Street (Van der Hoff Park)
When the suburb of Van der Hoff Park was laid out in the early 1980s, it was decided to name the streets after famous composers. Pieter de Villiers (1924-2015) is the only composer so honoured – of quite a few – that had an association with Potchefstroom.
Pieter de Villiers joined the staff of the Potchefstroom University as lecturer in music in 1954. He initially studied medicine at the University of Pretoria (UP), before changing to study classical languages. In 1948 he received the Secondary Teachers Diploma and a Diploma in Music from the University of Stellenbosch (US). From 1948 to 1953 he taught music at the US, but studied at the Royal College of Music in London for a few months in 1949, where he received numerous diplomas.
From 1954 to 1961 he taught at the PU. During this time he conducted the choir of the Music Society to record a long-playing record with student songs. This was the first time a recording was made of a choir at the university. In 1962 he joined the music department of the SABC. From 1963 to 1967 he taught organ, piano and harpsicord at the Music Department of UP (Toonkunsakademie).
In 1968 he returned to Potchefstroom to accept a professorship in the Department of Music and to be head of the department, after the death of Prof MC Roode in a car accident the previous year. He again conducted the choir of the Music Society in 1971 and 1972, assisted by Mr GW Koornhof.
In 1975 De Villiers was the lead conductor for a choir of 1 000 members who performed at the Afrikaanse Taalmonumentfees (festival to commemorate the birth of the Afrikaans language) at the Voortrekker Monument.
In the year he retired, 1984, a special concert in his honour was held at the university. Many of his compositions were performed by artists such as Mimi Coertse, Werner Nel, Rina Hugo and the PU Choir. A critic wrote afterwards:
When one writes about the music of this composer, it is his modesty that it is apparent, but the merit of what he created lies in the worth of him as a human being. It is his measure as a person that is reflected in his music.
As ’n mens skryf oor die musiek van hierdie komponis, is dit sy beskeidenheid wat deurskemer, maar die waarde van sy skeppingswerk lê in die waarde van sy menswees. Dit is sy omvangrykheid as mens wat in sy musiek weerspieël word.
He retired to Stellenbosch and in 1985 he received an Artes Award for promoting classical music over the radio. In 1996 the Alumni Association of the PU awarded an Alumni Award to Prof De Villiers and in 2001, when the PU celebrated 50 years of independence, PUK Kunste produced a set of four CDs with music performed by alumni of the university. It was dedicated to De Villiers.
He passed away in 2015 in Stellenbosch at the age of ninety.
Town engineer with a huge legacy
Pietersen Street (Potchindustria)
The street was named after WPJ Pietersen (1903-1951) who was a former town engineer.
Bill Pietersen served as town engineer for twenty years prior to his death. He was the man responsible for the installation of the first water-borne sewerage system in the town shortly after the Second World War. He also designed the layout of the gardens east of the city hall.
The building of the Picnic Poort Dam between Mohadin and Promosa in the Wasgoedspruit (Laundry Creek) was done on his initiative with the purpose to prevent flooding of the Wasgoedspruit.
Early in his career he was responsible for the tarring of about 80 km of streets in the town. He made a study of traffic control as applied in overseas countries and was able to adapt that to local conditions, even before robots were installed.
Plein Street (South) is a short street between Kruger and Kruis Street and next to the current grounds of the Hoër Volkskool. It is surmised that this street was so named because prior to the completion of the school buildings the area was bare or flat (plein).
Poortman Street (Potchindustria)
Dr Bernardus Poortman (1812-1892) completed his medical studies in the Netherlands and then undertook journeys to the East Indies and South America. In August 1839 he sailed from Amsterdam to Natal and in 1840 settled in Pietermaritzburg. In 1843 he became a member of the Volksraad.
He arrived in Potchefstroom in 1851 and on 10 April 1854 erven on the south-eastern corner of Lombard and Kruger Streets (James Moroka and Beyers Naudé) were sold to him. He built a house and chambers on the property.
Shortly afterwards he became severely ill from a liver-disease and was forced to leave Potchefstroom. He lived temporarily in Ladysmith in Natal and at Winburg, but it is unclear how his sojourn in the Free State would have been able to cure him. In 1858 he came back to Potchefstroom. In 1878 his wife of 36 years passed away after a childless marriage. In 1879 he married Miss SM Weijhard. His death in his eighties on 7 May 1892 is said to be due to rheumatoid gout.
During his lifetime he was much concerned about the unbridled use of patent medicine which was freely available and almost the only medicaments on which local people could rely. On 12 August 1860 he addressed a letter to the Volksraad about this and said that the sale of patent medicines led to the practice of quack medicine. Even something as dangerous as wolf poison was sold to ignorant people! He said that medicine made from plant material was less dangerous than those of a mineral origin, which, at the time, was starting to become available.
His own “Poortman se Maag- en Lewermiddel” (a remedy for stomach and liver ailments) was widely used.
Dr Poortman’s house still stood in 1994 and the owners was keen to restore it. Extensive research was not able to determine what the house looked like at the time it was built, due to numerous changes over the years. The house was uninhabited in at the time and was a magnet for vagrants. It was subsequently demolished.
He dedicated his life to the PUC
Postma Street (Dam area)
was named after Professor Ferdinand Postma, rector of the PUC from 1919 to 1950.
These are the paragraphs I included on him in an article that appeared in the Herald at the beginning of 2019:
A man who devoted his life to this university, was Prof Ferdinand Postma (1879-1950). When Prof PF van der Schyff wrote Wonderdaad…!, the book that chronicles the history of the university till its independence in 1951, he dedicated it to Prof Postma. Van der Schyff says about Postma: “His impact is woven like a golden thread through the story of this book, from the time he enrolled as student in 1896 until his death in November 1950, shortly before the university became independent.”
Postma became rector in 1921. In 1928 a devastating government report described the inadequate facilities of the PUC and the fact that it is housed in galvanised iron shacks. Postma realised that this could be the death knell for the PUC and shortly afterwards departed on a fundraising tour. He tirelessly criss-crossed the country to raise funds to see to it that the PUC survive and through this managed an innovative building program. The main result was the iconic Main building of the university.
His last legacy was the independence of the university, which was preceded by a tiresome process, over years, of canvassing parliament to pass a private law resulting in the independence of the university. This took its toll on his health, which was already in a bad state.
Postma death is described as those of Moses, who stood at the borders of the Promised Land, but died before he was able to enter it.
President Street (Bult) was named after President MW Pretorius.
Pretorius Street (Central)
Although De Klerk was not able to confirm this, he surmised that it was also named after President MW Pretorius. See the article on Marthinus Wessel Street, which was also named after him.
The street could also have been named after WD Pretorius, who was the owner of a large property in the area. His house, known as the “WD Pretorius House” still stands on the corner of Church (Walter Sisulu) and Jeugd Streets. Susanna Street, also in the area, was named after his wife. Their story will be told in the article on street names starting with a “S”.
The original source of these articles is a series of 13 columns written by “Senex” for the Potchefstroom Herald on the origins of the street names of Potchefstroom, published from 17 December 1974 to 24 June 1975. Senex was the pseudonym of Mr Jurgens Smith, a long-time history teacher at the Potchefstroom High School for Boys. Smith’s primary source of information was the research of Mr TC de Klerk, who studied the origins of the street names of Potchefstroom to write a master’s dissertation in the 1960s. He sadly passed away before completing his studies. Some of De Klerk’s research is kept in the Archives of the Potchefstroom Museum, which otherwise also provided a rich source of information.
The original source of and inspiration for these articles is a series of 13 columns written by “Senex” for the Potchefstroom Herald on the origins of the street names of Potchefstroom, published from 17 December 1974 to 24 June 1975. Senex was the pseudonym of Mr Jurgens Smith, a long-time history teacher at the Potchefstroom High School for Boys. Smith’s primary source of information was the research of Mr TC de Klerk, who studied the origins of the street names of Potchefstroom to write a master’s dissertation in the 1960s. He sadly passed away before completing his studies. Some of De Klerk’s research is kept in the Archives of the Potchefstroom Museum, which otherwise also provided a rich source of information.