Joburg's oldest pub

Every time I visit any of Joburg’s old buildings, I try to imagine what life may have been like when they were built. And more recently, I’ve also been wondering about the ghosts that may still linger there (yes, really and yes, even when it isn't creepy). Thanks DStv for all the paranormal shows!

There were only spirits of the liquid kind at the Guildhall Pub, Joburg’s oldest pub, a few Saturdays ago though. Okay it was midday and there wasn't anything creepy. Fernando Coimbra, the manager, also said he’s never seen anything – at day or at night. “I’ve been asked before, but I don’t believe in ghosts though,” he added... He did mention a ghost tour that often stops at the pub, but maybe those ghost-hunters share my pulled-out-of-thin-air theory that this place is old, so therefore there must be some spooks here. Old spooks.

This pub was established in 1888, demolished and then rebuilt in 1912 or so. While keeping glasses topped up, it witnessed Joburg’s development from a mining town to a city, from tents and tin shacks to skyscrapers, from its degeneration to its regeneration. And there are still some design features (I was a bit disappointed that what must have been a rickety staircase has been tiled over), but there are also many black and white photos that remind you of its history.

You see where I got my idea that there may still be some ghostly miners here, lifting their glasses in gold-induced glee or drowning their sorrows in some brew?

Not seeing any of them is probably a good thing – although it would have made for a good story! And here’s another good thing: having a drink at this pub on a Saturday afternoon, preferably upstairs on the stoep. The menu has a Portuguese influence and we had some good chorizo sausage, chicken livers and trinchado beef. They also make pizza and have weekly specials.

So go have a look, lift your glass to Joburg’s oldest pub and let me know if you see something...

The pub is on the corner of Market and Harrison streets in the CBD. Contact (011) 833-1770.

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