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History of Centurion

Centurion (previously known as Verwoerdburg, after Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd is an area with 279,430 inhabitants in Gauteng Province of South Africa, located between Pretoria and Midrand Johannesburg). Formerly an independent municipality, with its own town council, it is now part of the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality. It is located at the intersection of the N1 and N14 highways. The R21 also passes through Centurion.

The Waterkloof Air Force Base, as well as the Swartkop Air Force Base (which includes the South African Air Force Museum) are located in Centurion. 

19th Century

From 1825 to 1826 the Matabele peoples defeated the Bakwena tribe and settled along the banks of the Magalies River under the leadership of Mzilikazi.

In 1841 the Erasmus family arrived and settled in the area that would much later (circa 1995) become Centurion. Daniel Jacobus Erasmus settled on the farm Zwartkop, Daniel Elardus Erasmus on the farm Doornkloof and Rasmus Elardus Erasmus developed the farm Brakfontein. Several of the suburbs like Erasmia, Elardus Park, Zwartkop and Doornkloof were named after these 19th century owners of the land and their properties.

In 1849 Rev Andrew Murray visited the farm Doornkloof and christened 129 babies, heard the confession of their faith of 29 new members of the Reformed Church and the next day, 29 December 1849, celebrated communion.

In 1889 Alois Hugo Nelmapius bought the northern and north-eastern portions of the farm Doornkloof and named it after his daughter Irene (who died 1961).

First Anglo-Boer War

As part of the First Boer War, the battle for Rooihuiskraal (Afrikaans for "Red House Kraal") took place in 1881 here. A Boer commando under the leadership of D.J. Erasmus Jr defeated Colonel Gildea, or "The Blasted Colonel" as they called him, the British Officer Commanding of the Pretoria Garrison. After the cornered British garrison tried to escape to Natal to join General George Pomeroy Colley, the Boers entrenched themselves behind a stone wall surrounding the animal stockade, and wounded the colonel in the backside, who was standing upright in his stirrups.

Second Anglo-Boer War

During the Second Boer War the Irene Concentration Camp was established in 1901 on the farm Doornkloof, as part of the British scorched earth policy, where Boer women and children were housed under extremely poor conditions. At its peak the camp had 5,500 inhabitants, mostly women and children. Between February 1901 and the end of the war in 1902, 1249 lost their lives here, about 1000 of them children. The Irene Camp Cemetery is well preserved and contains 576 of the original slate tombstones that was carved by hand in the camp.

20th Century

The town of Irene was established in 1902 when 337 plots were laid out on the farm Doornkloof. Jan Smuts later owned this farm, and died there in 1950. The original Smuts House is a museum today, and regularly hosts open air fleamarkets on its grounds.

Centurion developed from the initial Lyttelton Township that was marked out on the farm Droogegrond in 1904. Lyttelton Manor Extension 1 was established in 1942. These two townships initially resorted under the Peri Urban Board in Pretoria.

Centurion was granted City Council status in 1962 as Lyttelton. It was formed by combining the areas of Doornkloof, Irene and Lyttelton.

In 2000, the Centurion local government became part of the newly-created City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, which also includes Pretoria, and the town ceased to have its own Town Council.

Name Changes

Lyttelton was renamed Verwoerdburg in 1967, after Hendrik Verwoerd, the so-called "architect of apartheid". The surrounding areas, as they grew, came under the same name and Lyttelton became known as one of the suburbs of Verwoerdburg. Others included Clubview, Eldoraigne, Wierdapark, Zwartkop and their extensions.

The political neutral name Centurion has no significance, and was chosen by residents in 1995, soon after the end of apartheid, to match the name of the Centurion Park (now called SuperSport Park) cricket ground which is located in the area. Following the end of apartheid, the Indian township of Laudium and surrounding suburbs including Erasmia and Claudius, which were formerly a part of Pretoria, were made part of Centurion. A black township, called Olievenhoutbosch, was created in Centurion at around the same time

Resource //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centurion,_Gauteng

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