Timeline of Pretoria’s History
- Timeline of Pretoria’s history: 1600 – 1899
- Timeline of Pretoria’s history: 1900 – 1999
- Timeline of Pretoria’s history: 2000 – 2013
The Southern Transvaal Ndebele tribe settles in the area which was to become the location of the city of Pretoria, after travelling from Natal led by a chief called Musi.
Andries Pretorius, who would later become a national hero of the Voortrekkers after his victory over the Zulus in the Battle of Blood River in 1837, arrives in the area north of the Vaal.
Southern African king Mzilikazi and his tribe, who’d been residing in the region since 1825, is defeated by the Voortrekkers and forced to flee across the Limpopo.
First permanent White inhabitants arrive in the Pretoria area.
The United Kingdom signs the Sand River Convention treaty with approximately 5 000 Boer families, recognizing their independence in the region to the north of the Vaal River and by doing so, laying the foundation for the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (South African Republic).
Marthinus Wessel Pretorius purchases two farms named Elandspoort and Daspoort. The farms are declared a town in November, originally named ‘Pretoria Philadelphia’ in honour of MW Pretorius’ father and his father’s brothers.
Pretoria is founded and established as the capital of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek, named after General Andries Wilhelmus Jacobus Pretorius- a leader of the Boers who was instrumental in the creation of the Transvaal Republic.
Church Square is created on the order of MW Pretorius. Town planners, The Deveraux brothers, design a square for market and church purposes.
Andries Francois du Toit, in exchange for a Basuto pony, acquires a part of MW Pretorius’ farm ‘Elandsfontein’. He names the pony ’Arcadia’. The Union Buildings would later be constructed on Elandsfontein Farm.
Marthinus Wessels Pretorius is elected the first President of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek.
The first church in Church Square is completed and inaugurated by Reverant D Van Der Hoff.
Andries Francois du Toit is sworn in as Pretoria’s first magistrate and is responsible for the layout of the city.
The first state aided school is opened with qualified Dutch teacher Hendrik Stiemens as headmaster.
Marthinus Wessels Pretorius resigns as president of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR) and is elected President of the Orange Free State.
Pretoria is named the capital of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek on the 1st of May 1860.
Pretoria’s first Raadsaal (council boardroom) is erected on the corner of Market and Church streets.
Marthinus Wessels Pretorius is elected as President of the ZAR for the second term.
The first mail coach is established in Pretoria.
Pretorius is forced to resign as President after consenting to the Keate award.
Thomas Francois Burgers is elected State President of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek.
The Pretoria Post Office is established.
‘De Volkstem’/’Die Volkstem’, a Dutch- and Afrikaans language newspaper, is established by President Burgers and circulation starts in Pretoria.
British statesman Sir Theophilus Shepstone proclaims the annexation of the Transvaal to Great Britain.
First telegraph office is established in Pretoria.
The United Kingdom’s new Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone, insists on maintaining British control in Pretoria.
The First Anglo-Boer War begins on the 16th of December and Pretoria is surrounded by Boers in order to stop the British forces stationed there from taking part in the fighting.
The First Anglo-Boer War ends with the restoration of the Transvaal Republic under the Pretoria Convention.
Paul Kruger is the new elected President of Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek.
The London Convention replaces the Pretoria Convention.
The Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek passes Law 3 of 1885, which empowers the government to specify the areas where Asians can reside.
Construction of the first Post Office building on the north corner of Church Street begins.
The President Theatre, also known as The Empress from 1903 to 1910 and the first theatre in the city, is erected.
The Nederlandsche Bank opens. The name later changes to Nederlandsche Bank Voor Zuid Afrika.
The suburb of Arcadia is incorporated into Pretoria.
Work starts on the new Raadsaal (council boardroom), with the foundation stone being laid by President Kruger on 6 May.
Magistrates Court is built on the north east corner of Koch and Pretorius Streets.
The first telephone exchange, that was ordered for Johannesburg, is installed in Pretoria due to insufficient subscribers in Johannesburg.
The suburb of Sunnyside is incorporated into the city of Pretoria.
The Staatsmodelschool is established on the corner of Van der Walt and Visagie Streets.
State Girls school (now Hamilton Primary school) and State Gymnasium is established.
The Delagoa Bay railway line is officially opened by Paul Kruger on 8 July.
The suburb of Les Marais, as well as the Asiantic Bazaar, is established.
The foundation stone of the Pretoria Hospital is laid by President Kruger.
Construction on The Raadsaal is completed.
The Press Printers is established on the corner of Koch and Vermeulen Streets.
The suburb of Pretoria West is established.
The first railway station is erected in Pretoria. The Nederlandse-Zuidafrikaanse Spoorwegmaatchapij is responsible for the maintenance of the railroad.
Electricity is introduced to Pretoria. The residence of the president is the first in Pretoria to be lit by electricity.
The State Gymnasium is established for the training of teachers.
The suburbs of Mayville, Eloffsdal and Villiera are established.
The Suburb of Hermanstad is established.
The Foundation stone of the building of the Palace of Justice is laid by President Kruger in Church Sqaure.
Roseville and New Muckleneuk are established.
Construction on the Palace of Justice in Church Sqaure is completed.
Pretoria News is launched by Leo Weinthal, the first editor of the Printing Press.
Erection of the Staats Meisjies Skool (State Girls School) building.
War is declared between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic (Transvaal Republic) and the Orange Free State.
Signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging, ending the South African War. The republics then become British colonies.
The suburb of Brooklyn is established.
The Transvaal Museum as well as Pretoria Zoo is established by J. W. B. Gunning, who is appointed as first director.
Gezina, Wonderboom South, Rietfontein, Parktown, Mountain View and Claremont are established.
Pretoria Gardens, Daspoort, Rietondale and Waterkloof are established as residential suburbs.
A sewerage system introduced in Pretoria.
The Opera House is opened by the Pretorian Mayor of the time, Eddie Bourke.
Foundation stone laid for the new Town Hall.
Lady Selbourne, Hatfield and Booysens are established as residential suburbs.
A fountain is erected in the middle of Church Square. This fountain was later moved to the Zoological Gardens in 1911.
The birth of the Union of South Africa with Pretoria as administrative capital and Cape Town as the legislative capital.
Louis Botha becomes the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa.
Electric trams are introduced to Pretoria.
A statue of President Kruger is erected in Princes Park.
The National Party is established.
The Municipal Tram Sheds are built on the corner of Van Der Walt and Schoeman Streets. There were about 13,5 miles of tracks for trams in Pretoria.
Construction on the Union buildings is completed.
Capital Park is established as a residential suburb.
First pass law is introduced in South Africa, designed to regulate movement of black Africans in white urban areas.
Iscor Limited, a South African parastatal steel company, is founded by the South African Government with its first works in Pretoria.
The residential suburb of Colbyn is established.
Pretoria is officially declared a city and construction of the City Hall begins to celebrate the city-status.
The United Party government is formed under Generals Hertzog and Smuts.
Menlo Park is established as a residential suburb.
The Pretoria City Hall is inaugurated on the Paul Kruger Street south of Church Square and across the street of the Transvaal Museum.
The University of Pretoria’s Merensky Library building, was build following a donation of £10,000 from mining geologist Dr. Hans Merensky who is known as the discoverer of South Africa’s: platinum, diamonds, chrome, tin, gold, vermiculite and copper.
The Library was designed by Gerard Moerdijk the architect who also designed the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria.
The foundation stone for this building was laid in 1937 by General Jan Smuts, then Prime Minister of South Africa. Note: The University of Pretoria was then known as the Transvaal University College (Afrikaans: Transvaalse Universiteitskollege).
In 1991 it was declared a National Monument and became a National Heritage Site in 2012.
The cornerstone of the Voortrekker Monument was laid on 16 December 1938.
Establishment of Atteridgeville, named after the Deputy mayor Patricia Atteridge.
Waterkloof Ridge is established as a residential suburb.
First 50 families are relocated from Marabastad to Atteridgeville.
The suburb of Danville is established.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is established. It’s South Africa’s central and premier scientific research and development organisation.
The National Party runs victoriously in the elections and subsequently enacts a mass of racial legislation that is designed to preserve white supremacy in South Africa. The National Party names it’s policy “apartheid.”
The residential suburb of Groenkloof is established.
The Voortrekker Monument which was built to commemorate the Voortrekkers (Pioneers) was inaugurated on 16 December 1949. It took approximately 12 years to complete the construction.
The Hercules municipality is merged with Pretoria.
The township of Mamelodi is established by the government on the farm Vlakfontein on the northeast outskirts of Pretoria.
Dr. Hans Merensky donated £5,000 to establish a medical library on the medical campus of the University of Pretoria.
20 000 women marches to the Union Buildings in protest against South Africa’s apartheid-era pass laws on 9 August 1956.
Black inhabitants from the Lady Selborne district, as well as other areas including Attridgeville, Mamelodi and Ga-Rankuwa takes part in a protest against a decision to raise bus fares.
The Treason Trial begins, in which 30 of the accused, including Nelson Mandela, were only released in March 1961, because the State could not prove its case.
H.F. Verwoerd becomes Prime Minister of South Africa.
Establishment of Laudium, a residential township for Indians.
South Africa becomes a Republic and leaves the Commonwealth of Nations.
Eersterus, an area created by the government to allocate and relocate people of the coloured race to, is laid on the farm Vlakfontein, 15km east of Church Square.
The Rivonia Trial began at the Palace of Justice in Church Square. Nelson Mandela was among the accused.
The Pretoria Art Museum is inaugurated by the new mayor of Pretoria, Dr PJ van der Walt.
The municipalities of Silverton and Pretoria North are incorporated into Pretoria.
The township of Ga-rankuwa is officially opened in the Tswana homeland.
A new nationalist daily newspaper, Hoofstad, as well as the morning newspaper Oggendblad, are established.
Petrol driven buses are introduced in Pretoria.
UNISA moved into its new home on Muckleneuk Ridge.
Anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko dies in a Pretoria prison on the 12th of September 1977.
Three ANC men take 25 hostages in the Pretoria suburb of Silverton, demanding the release of Nelson Mandela. The three ANC men and two white female hostages are killed.
The Voortrekkerhoogte Military Base outside Pretoria is attacked. Two British citizens, Nicolas Heath and Bonnie Lou Muller, are identified as accomplices in the assault.
A car bomb at the South African Air Force in Pretoria kills 15 people.
Approximately 7 000 people attends an Afrikaner Volkswag rally in Pretoria.
Two grenade attacks occur in townships in Pretoria.
Esther Masuku, mother of youth activist and South African Council of Churches-member Oupa Masuku, is killed in a hand grenade attack on their house in Atteridgeville .
The P. W. Botha regime declares a nationwide state of emergency to crush Black resistance.
Four municipal police officers are killed and one injured in Atteridgeville.
A bomb explodes prematurely outside Pretoria’s Sterland cinema, killing the carrier and wounding a bystander. According to the ANC, the intended target was a nearby government building.
In September, a bomb explodes at the Laudium home of a Pretoria municipal election candidate.
The Pretoria Minute is signed as a result of talks between the South African government and the ANC in Pretoria.
The people of Pretoria took part in South Africa’s first democratic elections on 27 April 1994.
Nelson Mandela was inaugurated on 10 May 1994 at the Union Buildings as South Africa’s first democratic president.
Loftus Versfeld Rugby Stadium was one of the host stadiums in the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
The Motor Industry Development Programme was implemented by government. Pretoria hosts half of the light vehicle manufacturers located in the country (Volvo, Nissan, BMW, and Ford). Daimler, Tata, Mahindra and Volkswagen also have representation in the City of Tshwane.
The military area, known as Voortrekkerhoogte, was renamed Thaba Tshwane. It was founded around 1905 by the British Army, and was first known as Roberts Heights after Lord Roberts.
Thabo Mbeki becomes the second democratically elected President of South Africa.
The Gordon Institute of Business Science is established by the University of Pretoria.
The City of Tshwane Municipality is established.
The Innovation Hub, a community of successful, innovative companies is established.
The University of Pretoria establishes a High Performance Centre at its LC de Villiers Sports Grounds. It is South Africa’s first tertiary sporting academy.
Deputy President Jacob Zuma facilitates meetings between Pierre Buyoya, the President of Burundi and rebels Alain Mugabarabona, Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye and Pierre Nkurunziza in Pretoria.
Supersport Park in Centurion, was one of the host stadiums of the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup.
The people of Pretoria took part in South Africa’s third democratic elections on 14 April 2004.
The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) was launched as a nationwide programme covering all spheres of government and state-owned enterprises. Apart from being South Africa’s administrative capital, Pretoria hosts most government departments.
Pretoria’s council votes and The South African Geographical Names Council approves to change the city’s name to Tshwane.
President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki, and Laurent Gbagbo, President of Côte d’Ivoire, hold talks in Pretoria to advance peace in Côte d’Ivoire.
Xolilizwe Mzikayise Sigcawu, the 11th paramount chief of the Gcaleka sub-group of the Xhosa nation and an active member of the House of Traditional Leaders, dies at No 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria.
5 000 Telkom workers stage a protest march against Telkom’s profit-sharing scheme in March.
Herman van Rooyen and Rudi Gouws, two Boeremag treason trial accused, escape from the Pretoria High Court.
Marais Viljoen, former State President of South Africa, dies in Pretoria from heart failure at the age of 91.
Freedom Park opened in December 2007.
The University of Pretoria’s business school, the Gordon Institute of Business Science, replaces the Graduate School of Management.
Nelson Mandela receives the Freedom of the City award from the City of Tshwane.
Loftus Versfeld Stadium is one of the venues used for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, hosting the Group B matches USA vs. Italy, USA vs. Brazil and Brazil vs. Italy.
The people of Pretoria took part in South Africa’s fourth democratic elections on 22 April 2009.
On 9 December 2010, the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) was launched. Their corporate office is located at the Innovation Hub in Pretoria.
Loftus Versfeld Rugby Stadium was one of the host stadiums for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The Gautrain route from Rosebank to Pretoria and Hatfield commenced operations on 2 August 2011.
The City of Tshwane Municipality becomes one of the largest municipalities in the world by land size after the incorporation of the Metsweding District Municipality.
Having over 300 000 students, UNISA becomes one of the world’s mega universities.
The Centurion Aerospace Village is established in Centurion.
Members of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organisation announced that the SKA telescope would be split between Africa and Australia. Tricom Structures, a Pretoria-based company is manufacturing a 25-ton backup structure for MeerKAT.
The South African Reserve Bank, located in Pretoria, issued new banknotes bearing the face of former President Nelson Mandela.
South African won six medals at the London Olympics. Medals went to Cameron van der Burgh (gold) and Roeland Schoeman (bronze) whom are both born in Pretoria while Caster Semenya (silver) and Bridgitte Hartley (bronze) are both University of Pretoria alumni.
Oscar Pistorius shot girlfriend on Valentines day.
USA President Obama in State Visit to Pretoria.
Nelson Mandela hospitalised for about 2 months in Arcadia, Pretoria.
Tshwane Mayor launch the ambitious Tshwane 2055 vision for the city.
Pretoria grieved and honoured Nelson Mandela, who passed away on 5 December 2013. More than hundred heads of state came to Pretoria to pay their respects. His body lay in state for three days in Pretoria and was visited by more than 100 000 people at the Union Buildings. The Mandela Statue was unveiled on 16 December 2013.
The people of Pretoria took part in South Africa’s fifth democratic elections on 7 May 2014.
The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius takes place at the Pretoria High Court from 3 March to 8 August. On 12 September he was foun not guilty of murder but guilty of culpable homicide.
On 4 August Pretoria felt a tremor of a 5.5-Magnitude earthquake that hit central South Africa.
Red Bull X-fighters had their World Tour 2014 Final in Pretoria, at the Union Buildings on 23 August. It’s one of the biggest and most respected freestyle motocross tours on the planet.
Six of South Africa’s nine provinces have been hit by drought, with three provinces declared disaster areas. Water restrictions have taken effect in the capital, Pretoria, and Johannesburg.
BMW invested R6 billion in the BMW Rosslyn Plant.
The Gauteng Department of Education rolled out a teaching and learning program which created paperless classrooms to 375 high schools.
Thousands of people from across the continent converged in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria, to mark Africa Day.
Hundreds of people have descended on the Union Buildings in Pretoria to celebrate 21 years of Freedom.
Oscar Pistorius was sent to prison on 6 July, were he will serve half his 6 year prison sentence for murdering Reeva Steenkamp before applying for parole.
South Africa entered a team of over 130 athletes in the Rio 2016 Olympics. South Africa received 2 Gold Medals, 6 Silver Medals and 2 Bronze Medals.
Thousands of South Africans took part in the 2016 Municipal Elections.
Mumford & Sons visited Pretoria.
Mall of Africa opened it’s doors with more than 300 stores and restaurants taking space in what’s billed at the region’s largest single- phase shopping centre development to date.
Is there an important part of Pretoria’s history you want to see added here? Email us your thoughts.
Related article: History of Pretoria