Hidden Joburg: The View in Parktown

by | Oct 1, 2022 | Arts and Culture, Hidden Joburg, Johannesburg, Museums and Buildings, Tours | 9 comments

As most of you know, I’m on a quest to visit all the places featured in the Hidden Johannesburg book. Last week I went to the View, a historic Victorian mansion in Parktown, as part of a tour with the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation. This brings my total number of Hidden Joburg places visited to 18, with 10 left to go.

The View in Parktown
The View, believed to be the oldest surviving Victorian mansion in Joburg, is at 18 Ridge Road, Parktown. You can see the Hillbrow Tower peaking out from behind it.

Quick aside: If you’d like to check out all of the posts I’ve written about Hidden Joburg locations (including a couple of places that I’ve blogged about more than once), I’ve created a special “Hidden Joburg” blog category for your perusal.

The Queen-Anne-style architecture of the View, which was built in 1896 by City Engineer Charles Aburrow and Philip Treeby, is not considered to be particularly remarkable. “It’s actually rather ugly on the outside,” wrote Hidden Johannesburg author Paul Duncan. And the actual “view” toward Pretoria and the Magaliesberg Mountains, which the house was named for, is long gone thanks to Joburg’s relentless growth. The View is now surrounded by ugly academic and hospital buildings.

But the View’s interior is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Heritage tour in the View
Our guide, Monique Jefferson, tells us about the View from its spectacular entrance hall.
Entrance hall to the View in Parktown
The hand-painted friezes were apparently almost destroyed in the late 20th century, by cigar smoke and general lack of care. But they have since been restored to their original glory.
The View stairway
I love the stairway.
The View entryway and friezes
One more view of the entryway.

The View was built for Sir Thomas Cullinan — founder of the Premier Diamond Mine, where the Cullinan Diamond was discovered — and his wife and ten (!) children. Thomas Cullinan and Lady Anne Cullinan both lived at the View until their deaths, in 1936 and 1963, respectively. Today the View is home to the Transvaal Scottish Regimental Association.

Inside the bar at the View
The Transvaal Scottish Bar, manned by a member of the Association who opened up the View for our visit.
The View biliard room
The former billiard room, with its ornate textured wallpaper and painted pressed steel ceilings.
Sir Thomas Cullinan
A portrait of Sir Thomas, who started his career as a bricklayer before striking it rich in the diamond business.
The View doing room
The dining room.

Villa Arcadia is still my opulent Hidden Joburg mansion of choice. But the View is a must-see for the bird paintings alone.

Painting of the View
I can’t get enough of these.
Outside the View
I actually think the outside of the house is kind of pretty, unlike that drab medical building right behind it.

The remaining 10 Hidden Joburg places might take me a while to crack. But I hope to achieve one or two more by the end of the year.

Thanks to the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation for putting on a great set of tours over Heritage Weekend.


  1. Carol

    Looks wonderful. Am enjoying your posts which help to get us orientated to Joburg. Carol

    • 2summers

      Thanks so much Carol!

  2. AutumnAshbough

    I like the exterior and the gardens. Though the surroundings, as you points out, aren’t especially attractive. The inside…each individual window, pressed steel ceiling, and painted frieze is beautiful. But all together, they are way too much. Kind of like the Victorians.

    • 2summers

      Yes it’s absurd. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live there for 70 years. Fun to take pictures of though.

  3. Seas

    How do we visit?

    • 2summers

      There are various tours that go there. Check out Microadventure Tours and the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation.

  4. Justin Chamblee

    What tales those walls would tell if only they could speak. Thanks for sharing Heather. Truly an amazingly historic place for JoBurg 🙂

  5. peter

    Jo’burg was a humpin jumpin kickass city back in the 80’s. This was a pub back then called ” Rakes ”
    How it survived that is beyond me ….. The Sunnyside Hotel just down the road was a huge watering hole on Friday nights. Drinking and driving in those days was considered mandatory

    • 2summers

      There was a lady on the tour who told a the exact same story! Haha.


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