Springs, East Rand

The city of Springs lies on the outskirts and to the east of Johannesburg, considered by many as a 'suburb' of the city of gold - 50 kilometres is nothing when driving across Jo'burg - where it lies nestled in amongst the compatriot areas of Benoni, Boksburg and Brakpan, known collectively as the East Rand.

Much of Springs' allure lies in its history - steeped in gold - and the fact that a number of famous South Africans - Nadine Gordimer, James Phillips and Penny Heyns - were either born or raised in the city.

Springs gets its name, unsurprisingly, from a large number of natural springs (points from where groundwater flows out of the ground) in the area, although these were not the main reason people originally settled here. Springs started out as a farm, shortly after which coal was discovered around here and it took little time before a railway line emerged to carry coal from the coalfields to the gold mines of the Witwatersrand (Afrikaans for the 'ridge of white waters').

Whilst the coal mines soon closed around Springs as coal was discovered in Witbank, the discovery of gold followed fairly rapidly. A village emerged as early as 1904 and by the late 1930s there were eight gold mines in and around the village, making Springs and its surrounds the largest single gold-producing area in the world.

Springs today is known for its manufacturing and engineering industries and is one of the industrial centres of the country, hence its rather drab image - Springs is not known for its devastatingly exciting night life. But those who live here enjoy the suburban, town-type feel to the city and the easy access to, yet distance from, Johannesburg.

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