Joburg Photowalkers is a group of Johannesburg photo enthusiasts who organize walks in various parts of this vibrant, and sometimes dangerous, city. I decided to join the guided walk around the old Johannesburg General Hospital (the Joburg Gen as it’s known locally) to see what it’s all about. This was my first group photowalk and I hope it won’t be the last. The cool thing about doing stuff like this is that, a.) you get together with a bunch of like-minded people, and, b.) you get to places  you would not normally get to see or photograph. To be honest, I never really felt I was “in the zone” on the day, battling with a cumbersome Benbo “tripod”, and with a low battery warning coming on quite early in the walk and no spares with me! But I got a few shots that I think are okay, if not particularly spectacular. Another interesting element to a photowalk is seeing how others responded to the visual stimuli on offer. Looking at some of the pictures posted by others on the walk, I get the distinct impression I was walking around with my eyes closed half the time!

buildings in Hillbrow
Hillbrow buildings

Hillbrow was once an anything-goes, cosmopolitan city suburb. Full of high-rise blocks of flats (apartment buildings), retail establishments, restaurants and night clubs. These days it’s occupied mostly by drug dealers, prostitutes and assorted ne’er-do-wells. Crime is rife and this is not a place you want to venture into alone – especially after dark. The building at the right of the frame above – formerly the Esselen Street Hospital, now the Hillbrow Community Clinic – was designed by , Wllhelm Pabst, a German architect who settled in Johannesburg prior to WW II.

17 Esselen Street, Hillbrow, JophannesburgDetail on Wilhelm Pabst’s Esselen Street Hospital, now the Hillbrow Community Clinic

The wall below dates back to Johannesburg’s earliest days, when the fledgling city wasn’t much more than a rough, dusty, tented mining village.

Part of the original wall surrounding the old johannesburg general hospital.
One of the oldest structures in Johannesburg, dating back the early days of the city.

Not quite sure what this is/was. Hopefully one of the other Photowalkers can fill us in.

In the hospital grounds

A few views of various places within the hospital precinct.

In the grounds of the old Joburg Gen.
old brickwork
More old brickwork. I just enjoyed the colour and textures.

Below is a view of the rear of the main hospital building, showing a laundry chute, or is it  a  fun fair ride from a children’s ward?

laundry chute
Fire escape at the rear of the main hospital building.

I’ll leave it at that for now, and post a few more pics tomorrow.

© 2011. All images copyright Grahame Hall and may not be used without the written permission of the copyright owner. Please respect the rights of others.



  1. In about 1966 Cathy? and I were on night duty and decided to slide down the fire escape(must have been bored) We ended up in the ward below where all the Night sisters were congregated. We had fallen off the pillows we we riding on and had extremely dirty bottoms! We RAN through the ward in full sight of the Night Sisters.
    None of them ever said a word-but I bet they had a good laugh.!!
    Jean nee Thomas (aka Tommy) I have lived in NZ since 1975

    1. Thanks, Clive. I must say it looked a bit odd to be a laundry shoot and I couldn’t imagine a pile of dirty sheets sliding easily down that contraption. It makes much more sense as a fire escape! Or a fun fair ride? Anyway, have ammended the caption accordingly.

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