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Wednesday Jan 29, 2014

Pretoria tramlines to be marked with memorial

A set of tram tracks, dating back about 105 years and unearthed during excavation work on Church Square, is to be preserved in a memorial near where they were found.

The tracks were found last Tuesday by workmen excavating in preparation for lanes to be created for the city's A Re Yeng Tshwane Rapid Transport system.

They have been described by the National Heritage Council as a 'really interesting discovery'. Spokesman Danny Goulkan said the tracks were a relic of great significance and part of the history of the city and the country.

Heritage consultant Dr Udo Kusel said: 'All historic material, especially the tram lines, will be collected and preserved for the benefit of the people of the city and visitors.'
Paul Kruger Street and Church Square were criss-crossed with tramlines under the tar as that was where the main routes of the trams were, Kusel said.

Discovering them was important as they formed a part of the city's history and heritage, said Kusel, from Africa Heritage Consultants.

He has been contracted by A Re Yeng to hold a watching brief over the project.

His mandate from the Heritage Association is to identify heritage items and act accordingly.

He spends his time at the sites of excavation, where he is tasked with ensuring heritage relics are not damaged or lost.

Kusel said so much history lay buried in that section of the inner city - information a lot of people were unaware of.

'We want to preserve it and have a granite plaque with information on the history of the area and the service history of the trams.'

Trams, the first mode of public transport in the city, were introduced in 1910 as an alternative to walking and cycling. Church Square was where they set out from, and it was the city's main attraction.

Tshwane city spokesman Selby Bokaba said: 'The last tram was removed in 1939 and is on display at the Fort Klapperkop Heritage Site.'

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