The early days
With the discovery of gold at Langlaagte not far from the site of Rand Steam, a mining camp followed by a more substantial town populated mostly by single men came into being. These men struggled to get their washing done due to long working hours, water scarcity and drainage problems.
During this time, a number of Zulu men who had acquired the skills of washermen from the Indian dhobis practicing their trade in the Umgeni River in Natal, descended on Egoli (the City of Gold) to seek work. They soon organised themselves into regiments, each with an “induna” at the head and proudly wore a uniform of a white turban - a nod to the Indian washerman who had taught them their trade. These men became known as the “Amawasha”.
Unfortunately due to a drought in 1896, the Witwatersrand streams could no longer sustain the pressure of ever increasing amounts of washing and the Amawasha were instructed to relocate to the Klip River, twenty-five kilometres south of the town.
Johannesburg had now become lucrative to capitalists and an American named FO Nelson saw an opportunity in establishing a modern steam laundry when he arrived in South Africa just before the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War in 1899. On the site he established the Palace Steam Laundry to the west and the Rand Steam Laundry to the east. This site soon developed into a small village scattered with worker’s cottages, huge sheds, stables, a blacksmith and compounds.
Nelson’s enterprise soon became the largest in sub-Saharan Africa and was fully equipped with the latest technology and machinery. The Rand Steam Laundry was so reputable that it was known far and wide with washing being sent via rail from as far as Cape Town.
With the advent of the washing machine becoming commonplace in the 1950’s together with the invention of easy-care fabrics, the laundry’s business declined rapidly and by 1963 the laundry ended operations. Sadly the first elements to disappear from the site were the iconic two towering chimney stacks which had served as a landmark for many decades.
The years that followed saw the site occupied by many craftsman including a metalworker, antique restorer and a motorcycle mechanic. The historic buildings were demolished without the necessary permission by the the previous owners in 2008 leading the Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust to hold the site frozen for nearly ten years whilst negotiations were ongoing to restore and rebuild the property to its former glory.
A new era for Rand Steam
The newly open Rand Steam is located on the busy corner of Barry Hertzog Drive and Napier Street, just a stone’s throw away from Milpark Hospital and surrounded by prominent private schools.
The Moolman Group partnered with Jonker Evolution and Group 44 and embarked on this exciting development to restore this iconic site to its former glory. Group 44 have extensive experience with redeveloping Victoria Yards and 44 on Stanley, which is only 400m away from Rand Steam.
“Most new developments seek to be modern and futuristic in terms of design look and feel. With this development however, a great emphasis has been placed on restoring an iconic Richmond streetscape and paying homage to Johannesburg’s early history as a mining town. In doing so, the centre has a great narrative which resonates with shoppers, tenants and media alike,” says Anelda Barnard, Rand Steam Marketing manager.
Rand Steam will be a great alternative to your typical shopping centre and will be distinctly different from some of the competitors in the area. Due to the authenticity of the development, the tenant mix includes carefully curated, bespoke type stores, these include Rialheim, Candice Berman Gallery, ReTrend, Hers, His & Home, Bonafide Barbers, Famke Jewellery Design and Manufacturing, August Clothing, Rain, Exclusive Leather, Fabricate, Tapenade and Friends and Nap Living.
Enter Rialheim Rand Steam - the beginning of a new dream for our flagship store
Opening June 2019, Rialheim Rand Steam is set to redefine the Rialheim brand experience with a new signature store furnished with bespoke, locally made shop fittings, designer ceramic wall tiles and a full lighting collection.
A collaboration between MRS. & Rialheim has also brewed up a new café, Boho Café & Co., that will feature inside the store and offer grab & go coffees as well as seated options allowing guests to lounge and linger with exciting organic offerings and pastries - a fresh curated space where ceramics and cappuccinos seamlessly mingle.
Rialheim Rand Steam will serve as the launch venue for our new product lines including our range of bespoke wall tiles, pendant lights and table lamps making our new flagship store the go to destination for locally crafted décor that is designed to be fun and functional.
For more information about Rand Steam Shopping Centre please visit: http://randsteamcentre.co.za
For enquiries about Rialheim Rand Steam please use the contact form below: