Volks Hospital; Potgieter Street, Salvokop, Pretoria.

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GISKEY (Input giskey if applicable)
Condition Demolished
Date of origin 1888
Previous names None
Place Pretoria West
Street Potgieter Street
Town Pretoria
Magisterial district City of Tshwane
Province Gauteng
Country South Africa
GPS coordinates



Planning authority name City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality
Architect/Firm Public Works Department of the ZAR
Project architect/Designer S.W. Wierda
Commissioning owner  
Current owner None
Current occupant None
Previous uses Hospital
Current use None
Classification/Typology Hospital
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Although this building has been demolished, it still holds great value in the history of Pretoria, and even South Africa. If the building still exisited today, it would have been valued as the first hospital in Pretoria, which is of particular importance due to the time in which is was used. The Transvaal War (1880-1881) and the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1901) meant that the hospital had to accommodate many injured soldiers. The building also has architectural merit in the strong Z.A.R. architectural style of the 1800s.

Current known heritage status

Not applicable, as the building has been demolished.

Possible interested and affected parties

Because the building has already been demolished, those interested in it will most likely be doing historical research on Pretoria in general, on hospitals, the history of the area it was located in (the Barracks etc.), or on S.W. Wierda's work. It will not be for intervention purposes since the building no longer exists.

PIA - Pretoria Institute for Architecture

University of Pretoria, Department of Architecture


During the 1880s the need for a hospital became increasingly important. In 1887 a commission led by General P.J. Joubert negotiated with the government regarding a piece of land. An old house was chosen, located close to the military barracks, in what we today know as Potgieter Street. A permanent hospital committee was convened under the chairmanship of J.G. Kotze. 1500 Pounds were raised by a group of ladies in 1887 to fund the hospital. In the meantime a temporary hospital with 15 beds was erected on the allocated land. The first matron and two nurses came from Kimberley, and the hospital already took in its first patient on the 26th of June 1888. However, the temporary hospital wasn't officially opened by J.G. Kotze until the 2nd of July 1888. The Pretoria Medical Commission managed the hospital. The building consisted of three wards, but was still temporary and on the 21st of June 1890 President Paul Kruger laid the cornerstone of the new Volks Hospital. 130 beds were available in this new building. In 1918 the flu epidemic pushed the limits of the hospital in terms of size, and soon there was a great demand for a bigger building. Apart from this, the building itself was also deteriorating rapidly and needed to be replaced. The Volks Hospital remained in use until the General Hospital was erected in 1932, later renamed the H.F. Verwoerd Hospital, today known as Steve Biko Hospital. After this, the building for the Volks Hospital was placed under the control of the Railway Administration, and was converted into the C.W. Malan Railway Hostel. Later it was demolished in order to provide more space for the Defense Headquarters.  

Description of alterations with dates affected

As discussed above, the Volks Hospital building moved through four main phases. Prior to completion, a temporary hospital was used. Once completed in 1890 the hospital was used until 1932. The flu epidemic of 1918 influenced the fact that a new hospital had to be built. From 1932 the Volks Hospital was no longer the main hospital; the General Hospital was used instead. The previously used building was changed into the C.W. Malan Railway Hostel, after which it was demolished to provide space for the Defense Headquarters.

Description of site and/or structures and/or interior spaces

The building displays elements of Rationalism, which was a 19th century movement. This movement placed particular emphasis on using materials and textures to create the idea of ornamentation as one of the key elements in the building. A stone plinth, which appears to be of coursed rubble, supports the building. The plan is relatively simple and can be described as one of bilateral symmetry due to the similar parts on either side of the median axis. There are three main parts, and this tripartite division can be seen clearly on the elevation of the main facade. The central part has a jerkin head (or hip gable) roof, and the the two flanking flat-pitched gables on the front facade each has a prominent apex and finial. Triangular ventilators are positioned in between these three main parts, and can be seen on all sides of the building. An intricate railing defines the entrances to the two side parts, while a prominent entrance to the main part is formed through its height in relation to the other two parts, the stucco panels, the arches around the doors and windows as well as the gable's ornamentation. Three sets of staircases lead up to the three different entrances. Two more staircases are found at the back of the building, but only leading into the third, or north-eastern, part of the building.


<a href="http://gelofteland.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1086:1888-opening-van-volkshospitaal-pretoria&catid=23:kultuurdagboek&Itemid=24">http://gelofteland.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1086:1888-opening-van-volkshospitaal-pretoria&catid=23:kultuurdagboek&Itemid=24</a>

<a href="http://www.emagameni.co.za/10%20Walking%20Tours%20Through%20Pretorias%20Historical%20Past.pdf">http://www.emagameni.co.za/10%20Walking%20Tours%20Through%20Pretorias%20Historical%20Past.pdf</a>

<a href="http://archive.samj.org.za/2002%20VOL%2092%20Jan-Dec/Articles/12%20December/1.12%20EDITORIAL.pdf">http://archive.samj.org.za/2002%20VOL%2092%20Jan-Dec/Articles/12%20December/1.12%20EDITORIAL.pdf</a>


Andrews, T.E. 1999, Ten Walking Tours Through Pretoria's Historical Past. [PDF] Available at: <a href="http://www.emagameni.co.za/10%20Walking%20Tours%20Through%20Pretorias%20Historical%20Past.pdf">http://www.emagameni.co.za/10%20Walking%20Tours%20Through%20Pretorias%20Historical%20Past.pdf</a> [Accessed on 19 May 2012]

Ching, F.D.K. 2012. A Visual Dictionary of Architecture. 2nd Edition. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Fisher, R.C. 1992. Visual Lexicon of the South African Dwelling. Cape Town: Unibook.

Peacock, R. 1955. Geskiedenis van Pretoria 1855-1902. PhD. University of Pretoria.

SAMJ, 2002. The Pretoria Academic Complex - Embracing the Future, EDITORIAL, [online]. Available at: <a href="http://archive.samj.org.za/2002%20VOL%2092%20Jan-Dec/Articles/12%20December/1.12%20EDITORIAL.pdf">http://archive.samj.org.za/2002%20VOL%2092%20Jan-Dec/Articles/12%20December/1.12%20EDITORIAL.pdf</a> [Accessed on: 19 May 2012].

Webmeester, 2011. 1888: OPENING VAN VOLKS- HOSPITAAL, PRETORIA. [Online] Available at:http://gelofteland.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1086:1888-opening-van-volkshospitaal-pretoria&catid=23:kultuurdagboek&Itemid=24 [Accessed on: 15 May 2012]


Volks Hospitaal
Volks Hospitaal plan

Volks Hospitaal elevation
Volks Hospitaal section elevation

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