MILL HILL TODAY
We have some 400 homes in the suburb. Prior to its formation, the suburb suffered a number of hijackings. The Mill Hill Residents Association was set up to represent Mill Hill homeowners and to combine security issues with the development and administration of the park on Mill Hill Terrace which, until then, had been a dumping ground and temporary habitat for vagrants.
The Mill Hill Park is now managed by the residents and is an integral part of our community – it includes an arboretum of many of the Trees of the Year, free doggy poo bags, a children’s play area with jungle gym, slide and swings and benches where one can watch the spectacular sunsets over the distant Magaliesberg. We also have a sundial in memory of Mike and Jill Hayes who were founding and active members until their deaths. MHRA tries to hold at least one community event a year in the park and this has included a fun walk and picnic, regular Christmas Carols and a Spring Fete. Mill Hill is an access controlled suburb as we are lucky to only have one entrance/exit road and we also have a camera system that is managed by a dedicated group of our residents who also work with the guards at the boom once a month to be visible to the community and offer the opportunity for interaction. Decorative streetlights have been erected, municipal street lighting is constantly monitored, the streets, pavements and dustbins are maintained by our staff member, as is the park. We also remain alert to any proposed developments in the area and on our boundaries. Most importantly we have a wonderful Executive Committee, specific security focused sub-Committees and Street Captains and we have a Residents Association meeting, that the whole community is invited to attend every 6 weeks. All our Executive and Residents Meetings are kindly hosted by San Sereno, a retirement village within Mill Hill, in their community hall. In between meetings, we communicate with our residents through a notice board at the boom, a quarterly newsletter, emails and alerts as necessary, @MillHillRA Twitter handle and this website. We work closely with Randburg SAPS and are active on the Sector 2 CPF and have a lively Domestic Workers Forum that meets every 2 months. Like all resident associations, we have our challenges and often struggle with dealing with the Council but are grateful for the wonderful relationship we have with our Ward 102 DA Councilor, David Potter.
The MHRA is committed to doing all that we can to ensure that we live in a suburb that has a community spirit and that meets a certain standard, from the appearance of our streets and pavements, to the beautiful park, to the best possible security. As a result both the Executive Committee, Sub-Committees and our community Captains give voluntarily of our time, but we know that we can only continue to maintain Mill Hill if all our community participates and this remains an on-going challenge, but we are proud of our current high level of contributions.
The Mill Hill Residents Association attempts to create an ambience in our suburb that makes it a desirable place to live, enhances property values and offers a lifestyle all too rare in Johannesburg and its environs – a reminder of our proud history.
THE MILL HILL STORY
Little more than 50 years ago guinea fowl, rinkhals and plovers, a few sheep, cows and a pony far outnumbered the families living in Mill Hill. A windmill provided water and Coleman lamps light at night. The nearest shop was the ‘One Stop Café’, a long trek along Main road to what is now Randburg.
In 1934 Dr Rodney Bridges, then senior Geologist for the Corner House Group of Mines purchased fifty acres or the farm Driefontein III. He named the newly acquired land ‘Mill Hill’ after the school he had attended in North West London (www.millhill.org.uk). The Bridges built a small thatched cottage in a corner close to Main road. A year later the Emery family purchased the adjacent portion of Driefontein III farm and named it ‘Silvaplana’. The one half of this property is now San Sereno and the other half was sold by the Emery family and is now the townhouse development, Millwood – the original house has been retained as the Clubhouse. Mrs Emery senior died at San Sereno well into her 90s.
When the Second World War, in which Rodney Bridges served, ended, the pattern of life around Mill Hill changed forever. Samuel Cramer bought a portion of Driefontein III farm as he was looking for an opportunity for his two young ex-servicemen sons and the land had ‘special business rights’ and included a small bicycle repair shop. The boys became motor mechanics and a petrol pump, a chemist and Cramer Bros. Outfitters opened. In 1973 the Cramerview Village Centre was sold to the Bradfield family and the pace of development accelerated. Cramerview is now owned by Sable Properties and retains a village atmosphere.
In the early 1950s Dr Bridges turned King’s Evidence in a ‘cause célèbre’ involving the salting of a Free State gold mine. The costs incurred led him to subdivide Mill Hill and he retained the largest portion on which his second wife, Magda established a nursery. The new road required to reach the subdivided portions was named Norman Avenue, after Advocate Norman Rosenberg who had defended Rodney in his case. The Bridges then sold the property to friends, John and Edith Widdicombe who together with their seven children enjoyed ‘twenty marvellous years’ in Mill Hill as the area had become known and even laid out a golfing range on their property. In the early 1970’s they made a successful application to develop townhouses on the corner of Main Road and Norman Avenue and Mill Hill townhouses came into being.
The section owned by Robbie and Joyce Price was called Plovers is now Mandalay and Summerwood and the section called ‘The Barnes’ was owned by Max and Elaine Warburgh is now Balcairn. The section owned by John and Margie Fleming in John Street is now owned by Chris and Claire Lang and its lower portion is now Phoenix Close. The last of the four subdivided properties was used by Robbie Robertson for an asparagus planting venture and his beautiful Dutch gabled home is now owned by Gene and Denyse Killassy and was sub divided to form Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields and Avalon.
Along Fleming Street lived the Adams, Hodnett’s and Lombard’s. The Lombard’s grew tomatoes in expensive hot houses and their home later became the headquarters for the SOS Children’s Home in South Africa. This is now Cranleigh Place and Cranleigh Annex.
From 1980 onwards townhouses and cluster houses mushroomed, roads were tarred and trees were planted. Gone are the ringhals and guinea fowl and in their place we have all the trappings of suburban life.
Today Mill Hill has acquired a new identity and over four hundred families have made Mill Hill their home and the only reminders of the tranquil past are the Mill Hill Park and some of the 7000 pine trees planted by the late Mrs Emery.