Turbine Hall

The Jeppe Street Power Station built in 1927 was the largest and last of the three steam-driven power stations in Newtown. It housed Turbine Hall as well as the North Boiler House and three concrete cooling towers. The new electricity provider consumed "a trainload of coal a day". However, within a few years, demand again outstripped supply and further extensions were required. Still, outages were a regular occurrence in Johannesburg throughout the 1930s.

The Power Station lost its importance when a more modern station was built in Orlando, Soweto in 1942, but it was only in 1961 that the plant finally shut down. The station was given new life four years later when two Rolls Royce gas turbines were installed for use in emergencies and peak loading periods.

As neglect and indecision plagued Newtown’s future in the 1970s, this fine example of early 20th-century industrial architecture was threatened. Over time, 300 squatters occupied the cathedral-like space.

Several proposals were made for the building as part of inner city renewal efforts. Ultimately, AngloGold Ashanti’s proposal to build its new headquarters here revived the fortunes of Turbine Hall. After protracted consultations between architects and heritage practitioners, it was agreed that the North Boiler House could be demolished to make way for the development. In 2005, the City relocated the squatters to stands in Orange Farm and the spectacular transformation of the building began. It was completed in 2009:

"The AngloGold Ashanti building has successfully used heritage as a resource, letting the old building shine through the new. The designers have been sensitive to the history and context and have incorporated this into the new identity of the building. It should serve as an inspiration to others and an example of what is possible." Lael Bethlehem, CEO of the JDA, 2008

Did You Know?

Did you know that in 1900 the Coolie location was the only place where Indians could own property legally in Johannesburg?