Springs is a small town east of Johannesburg that forms part of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, along with Alberton, Benoni, Boksburg, Brakpan, Edenvale, Germiston, Kempton Park and Nigel, and townships Tembisa and Katlehong, among others.
Springs was originally established in 1887 as a coal mining town, but later gold was also mined there. It takes its name from the farm The Springs, surveyed in 1883 and named after springs of water that occur there.
Once upon a time, by the late 1930s, some 50 years or so after the first discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand, there were eight gold mines near Springs, making it one of the largest single gold-producing areas in the world.
Today Springs has become a regional economic hub, with mining replaced by manufacturing and engineering industries, such as chemicals, processed metals and foodstuffs, including the only Kellogg’s factory in South Africa.
The town is famous as the birthplace of South African Nobel Literature laureate Nadine Gordimer, and is also known for its art-deco architecture – some of which is in disrepair. It’s reputed to have the second biggest collection of small-scale art-deco buildings in the world after Miami in Florida. There are no formal guided tours but if you start at the well-maintained 1938 Springs Fire Station and make your way around the city on foot or by car you should see up to 30 interesting examples.
There are plenty of shopping opportunities in Springs, from small, intimate shopping centres to two major downtown shopping malls: The Avenues and Palm Springs. Nearby The Avenues you’ll find popular bars, clubs, nightclubs and discos.
If you’re a birder, a must-visit is the Marievale Bird Sanctuary within the Blesbokspruit area, designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance for waterbirds in 1986. Consisting of large, open, shallow stretches of water formed by run-offs from construction and the mines, it’s now full of sedges, reeds, bulrushes, duckweed and other vlei vegetation. It’s one of the best wetland birding spots in Gauteng, where you can tick off over 220 species and maybe even spot a rarity such as a black-tailed godwit, Pacific golden plover, pectoral sandpiper, Baird’s sandpiper or spotted crake, all observed here in the last few years.
If you’re a car enthusiast, then check out the township of Daveyton, once known as the Chevrolet Township. You might still spot an old Chevrolet car or another classic model once used regularly as taxis in the township.
Springs boasts a number of parks, including Pioneer Park adjacent to the CBD. A peaceful oasis in the middle of town, it’s set around an ivy-covered mineshaft and includes a tree-lined lake, lovely aloe gardens, a stone bridge, streams, fountains and a functioning, authentic Dutch windmill.
Springs Tourism Attractions
Located in Ekurhuleni in the east of Gauteng, near the neighbourhood of Springs, the Blesbokspruit is one of the largest wetlands in the Highveld region of Southern Africa at 1 858ha. The wetland is a high conservation priority as it forms an important component of one of the tributaries of the Vaal River and provides visitors with one of the easier-going getaways in Gauteng.
The Blesbokspruit system is valuable to the ecosystem of the area because of its ability to purify industrial and domestic discharge into the Blesbokspruit River from local industries, sewage works and mines reducing the amount of pollution entering the Vaal River.
The geology of the area is fairly simple, with flat lying sedimentary rocks of the Karoo and Transvaal age, overlying older formations of the gold-bearing Witwatersrand. The reed-dominated wetland is permanently flooded, due to artificial inputs of mining, industrial and municipal waste, resulting in an area rich in nutrients and ultimately a vast array of flora and fauna. Agriculturally, the land is used to farm maize, vegetables, lucerne, kikuyu (lawn grass), fodder and flowers.
If birdwatching is on your list of things to do in Gauteng, then this is the perfect place to visit as a significant number of waterbirds can be spotted on the Blesbokspruit, such as the Spurwinged goose, the Yellowbilled duck, Anas undalata and in the dry season you can often spot the rare Plectropterus gambenisis. Other notable birds in the area include the Avocet Recurvirostra Avosetta, Purple Heron, Ardea pururea, the African spoonbill Platalea Alba, and the African marsh harrier circus ranivorus which has been displaced from much of its ranges still maintains a strong population here.
The Blesbokspruit wetlands are fertile with different types of vegetation. There is algae, aquatic, and terrestrial vegetation. The wetlands provide dense reed habitat, the reedbeds exist mainly as large and small single colonies with some mixed species.
The aquatic habitat consists mostly of Phragmites australis, bulrushes typha latifolia and sedges, which cover 90% of the water surface.
A wide variety of flowering plants can also be found on the wetlands, some of the more spectacular plants are the Orange River lily, plough breaker and the Aloe ecklonis.
Key Statistics 2011
|Working Age (15-64)||71,6%|
|Population density||663 persons/km2|
|No schooling aged 20+||3,3%|
|Higher education aged 20+||16,3%|
|Matric aged 20+||37%|
|Number of households||38,824|
|Average household size||3|
|Housing owned/paying off||47,9%|
|Flush toilet connected to sewerage||80,6%|
|Weekly refuse removal||80,5%|
|Piped water inside dwelling||73,3%|
|Electricity for lighting||80,6%|
Spring falls under the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality is a Category A municipality covers an extensive area from Germiston in the west to Springs and Nigel in the east. The former administrations of the nine towns in the former East Rand were amalgamated into the metropolitan municipality, along with the Khayalami Metropolitan Council and the Eastern Gauteng Services Council. It is one of the most densely populated areas in the province and the country.