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Bulawayo Market Square 1899

Bulawayo Market Square 1899

Bulawayo Market Square 1899

By ROB BURRETT, Associate Researcher (Natural History Museum) and Independent Heritage Consultant

Bulawayo Market Square taken in about 1899, looking northeast towards the junction of today’s Fife Street and Leopold Takawira Avenue. This picture captures the very essence of Market Square - a central part of the town that was set aside for open-air trade.

For the first few decades, regular market days were held on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. At these times it was filled with wagons and people buying and selling imported goods, the results of the hunt and local farm produce. At other times it was largely deserted, frequented only by the down-and-out, mangy stray dogs and domestic servants who had been sent to collect water from the Market Square well.

When the town was originally surveyed this patch of land had been cultivated by some of King Lobengula Khumalo’s wives whose village stood nearby. The abandoned field was not subdivided and this large block quickly became a focal point.

The first building in this block was the Market Hall, built in 1895. This squat, rather ugly building was the scene of the settler laager in the Umvukela or Matabele Uprising of 1896. Later, in 1898, it was replaced by the Market Building, a square double-storey with an oversized, cupolated tower, that was in turn replaced by the present Town Hall in 1939.

In the background of this picture you can see the three turrets of Agency Chambers while the three small white buildings on the right-hand side are on the site of the current Bulawayo Central Police Station.

More from this issue:
ZT17 (June 2014) - Main Menu
ZT17 (June 2014) - Full Content Listing

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