Print About: History

About - Our vision
Franz Hoening Haus, Modderfontein (1896)  

Modderfontein village was established in 1894 to meet the needs of the growing gold mining industry. With the advent of underground mining, there was a need to manufacture and sell dynamite.

This resulted in, what is colloquially referred to as, the Modderfontein Dynamite Factory being built as it was far enough away from the mining hub to allay people´s fears around the manufacture of explosives.

The original factory was built by Germans, and immigrants were recruited from all over Europe. This gave rise to villages which sprung up around the factory. The residents of these areas took to naming the small villages after their countries of origin, such as Dutch Village and Italian village.

Various heritage buildings have been retained in Modderfontein, these include The Modderfontein Dynamite Company Museum (constructed in 1895 this was originally the residence of first chief engineer, it has served as a museum since 1987), Franz Hoenig Haus (first factory manager´s house, constructed in 1896), the Casino (established for recreational requirements in 1897) and 33 High Street (the assistant factory manager´s house constructed in 1897).

AECI had identified the need for a reserve and tasked Heartland with formalising the area in context of sustainability and existing and proposed developments in the area.

Areas within a development district that give it a character of its own become core to development activities that are structured around it. In Modderfontein, Heartland´s focus has been on safeguarding the open space that define the locale as the company approached the planning phase for the area; one of its main objectives was the identification and formalisation of land to be conserved as a major urban park.

The area for the park, drawn from available open land, was formalised after extensive Specialist Studies had been completed.

Conservation is of major concern to all community members and we are part of this community. We have taken this into consideration and are committed to ensuring that a balance is maintained between development and nature.

The Modderfontein Conservation society played an important role in the process and was actively involved in commissioning studies and assisting with access to the area prior to the formalisation of the reserve.

Cultural significance of landmarks in the reserve
The Reserve surrounds 4 dams (Fish Eagle Dam, John Voelker Dam, Grebe dam and Blue Crane Dam).

It also accommodates a number of heritage buildings including the dam keeper´s house known as Dobbs’ Cottage (constructed in 1934 for Estate Manager Lt Col Dobbs - SA Irish Regiment), During the SA War Lous Klei (the Hamburg carpenter) with the assistance of other Modderfontein carpenters and bricklayers were assigned to construct the house, barn and shooting lodge (staging post for carriages and horses were demolished in the 1930s). These buildings, of which the barn forms the visual focus, are located close to the western fringe of the Blue Crane Dam.