HISTORY - Craighall Primary School

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A brief history of Craighall Park and Craighall Primary

Although now very different in appearance the Johannesburg suburbs of Blairgowrie and Craighall spring from the same source, the land was once owned by William Grey Rattray. He came to South Africa from Scotland in the late 1870s.

In 1893 he bought a hostelry, which was to become the Craighall Park Hotel, and vast stretches of land around it. He named parts of this area Blairgowrie and Dunkeld, after towns near his Scottish home in Perthshire and Craighall after his ancestral seat.

Photographs in the Africana library show that the old hotel, then on the rise in Westminster Drive, was a beautiful place. There was a cricket field in the grounds, where Rattray liked to organise matches. Below the hotel he dammed the river to form a lake for boating and trout fishing.

In an old map, the river at the bottom of Craighall, is incorrectly named the “ Yousskei” river, but in fact the river is the continuation of the Braamfontein Spriut.

William Rattray was a civil engineer and his skill is shown in the three weirs he built spanning the river near the old Pretoria Road. These weirs can still be seen and their great length shows how wide the river once was.

William Rattray died in 1929. He was a distinguished figure with a small beard. He always dressed in breeches. He will long be remembered as he was the founder of the Auckland Park racecourse and he introduced the totaliser to South Africa.

Sergeant Montgomery staffed the old police station, which was in Jan Smuts Avenue. He used to patrol the area on horseback. The blockhouse on top of the Craighall koppie was a landmark for many years. It was built during the South African War (1899- 1902)

Founded in 1918, Craighall Primary has maintained its reputation for excellence by continually striving to meet the needs of pupils and adapting successfully to the changing needs of South Africa. The schools education system aims to ensure that each pupil is able to achieve his or her maximum ability and is equipped for lifelong learning.
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