Old fashioned neighbourhood buzzes with new energy

Linden: a little gem

Linden, a little jewel of a suburb with an interesting history, is a mere 6km from Liz at Lancaster.  Originally part of the farm Klipfontein, it was laid out in 1901 by Laurens Geledenhuys (who founded neighbouring Emmarentia) and Johannes Van der Linde.   It was very much a rural area being 8km away from the town of Johannesburg with limited access. Rustenberg Rd was only tarred in 1932.  But a lucky combination of fertile soil, many high-yielding wells and boreholes, and supposedly falling outside the normal hail belt, meant it was perfect for growing peaches.

From farm to trendy neighbourhood

Enjoy a light lunch at Paputzi's in the back garden under shade of some original Linden fruit trees (Photo: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse)
Enjoy a light lunch at Paputzi’s in the back garden under shade of some original Linden fruit trees (Photo: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse)

So it soon became an area covered in orchards renowned for fruit farming. Some of these fruit trees survive in the enchanting back garden of Paputzi’s – a delightful cafe-style restaurant. With increasing urbanization, sadly the farms gradually disappeared and by the 1950s the area became a suburb populated by many of the Afrikaner middle class. Given this rural and somewhat conservative demographic, it has still retained a delightfully old-fashioned feel about it, despite a new wave of young families and singles moving into the area.

For buttons, thread, wool and fabric - visit Arthur Bales Haberdashery. (Photo: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse)
For buttons, thread, wool and fabric – visit Arthur Bales Haberdashery. (Photo: Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse)

Along the main roads of 4th and 3rd Avenues there are many small owner-run family-type businesses such as Rembrandt Butchery, the Linden cycle shop, Millie’s fashion store, Miller’s Persian carpets, the Cheese Gourmet (the best cheese shop in Joburg), and of course the Grande Dame of institutions – Arthur Bales – a haberdashery established in 1902. Stepping in amongst the rolls of fabrics, desks of pattern books and racks of buttons, baubles, beads and thread, is like stepping back in time. If you don’t want to venture into the Fashion District in town for your Shweshwe cloth, you can find some at Arthur Bales.

Linden also boasts one of the best public swimming pools in Joburg – the other is at the Zoo Lake. And of course it’s a restaurant mecca … but that’s for the next blog post.

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