Brakpan at a glance
Brakpan is a gold and uranium mining town with 346,735 inhabitants in the Gauteng province of South Africa. The name Brakpan was first used by the British in the 1880s because of a non-perennial lake that would annually dry to become a "brackish pan".
The name Brakpan comes from a small pan on a farm called Weltevreden, which was filled with very brackish water and was probably referred to as the " brakpan" and it was near this pan that the first settlement started. In 1888, a coal seam was discovered and a coal mine under the name of Brakpan Collieries was started. When a railway line was constructed from Germiston to Springs, Brakpan became one of the stations along the route.
With gold fever running high on the Witwatersrand in the early years of the twentieth century, it was not long before gold was discovered. In 1905, Brakpan Mines Company sunk its first two gold mining shafts. One of its claims to fame was that it had the highest mine dump in the world at that time, its height being 120 metres (390 ft) above ground level. This was higher than any of the pyramids of Egypt except the Pyramid of Cheops.
From that moment the village began to grow rapidly, remaining a suburb of Benoni until 1912 when it was granted the status of a municipality and proclaimed as a town. Brakpan's central position in makes it a good distribution centre for industry, especially engineering works and foundries. More recently the municipality allowed the building of a huge casino (Carnival City) and entertainment complex, which opened the town to tourists and provided much-needed jobs for the people.
The first activity which drew people to the area was the British coal mining in 1888 and the large coal powered power station also built by the British. A tram line to Johannesburg was built at this time to service the power station.
The Main Reef Road linked Brakpan to all the other mining towns in the Witwatersrand. Brakpan was a suburb of Benoni from 1914-1919 when it was granted municipal status. The Brakpan miners were involved in the miners' strike of 1922. The town has gradually lost its importance as a gold mining area as the surrounding mines become low yield / high cost. Many British residents emigrated during the apartheid era leaving a vacuum in the town which was filled by Afrikaner farmers who had lost interest in farming.
Expansions to the town in the early 1990s (example Brakpan North) and the opening of the Casino complex Carnival City have done little to dispel its conservative image.
Part of Ekurhuleni. The main street is Prince George Rd. It is situatued between Springs and Benoni