From fresh spinach to stilt-walkers, you can find them all at Victoria Yards ‒ Johannesburg’s inner-city art, craft and gardening project.
I arrived in Johannesburg over 30 years ago to seek my fortune, and spent the first months living in a delightful restored Victorian house in Yeoville, near Louis Botha Avenue. I worked at the SA Associated Newspapers centre in Main Street and strolled to the thriving Carlton Centre for lunchtime shopping.
A lot has changed since then, clearly, both in my life and downtown Joburg. So it was a pleasant surprise to visit the recently opened Victoria Yards – a gritty industrial complex that’s been transformed into a green oasis and creative mecca. Galleries, glass-blowers studios and metalworkers’ workspaces now fill the old bare-brick buildings. On-site producers sell everything from just-picked vegetables to one-off clothing and jewellery.
Wherever we strolled, we were surrounded by abundant veggie patches, gloriously green and clearly bursting with goodness. You can buy the produce on site (or order a boxful) to support this far-sighted job creation and income generation project.
Fortunately I made a flying visit on the first weekend of December – you can pop into the complex Monday to Saturday, but the first Sunday of the month is when all the studios are open and craft producers and designers are more relaxed. There’s also entertainment like musicians, dancers and even stilt-walkers, chisa nyama was grilling on the coals, and the locally brewed Impi beer going down a treat.
Whether you’re a stressed city-dweller, a visiting tourist, or a Joburg local keen to show visitors an Instagram-ready spot that also does lots of good, Victoria Yards is a great place to visit.
Check out more on https://www.victoriayards.co.za/. Opening hours are 09h00-17h00 on weekdays, 10h00-17h00 on Saturdays, and the first Sunday of every month. Address: 16 Viljoen St, Lorentzville, Johannesburg, near Ellis Park.
Photographs Judy Bryant