Johannesburg's oldest pub is the Guildhall. It's part of our city's history and it still stands strong and welcomes you in for a pint just as it did all those years ago. Radium Beer Hall might try and claim the privileged title of 'oldest pub' but the fact remains that the charismatic and ancient Guild Hall has stood the test of time in the same location in Johannesburg since Johannesburg's birth. It's the oldest and it has enough character to over shadow many of its competitors too.
It opened its doors to some of the first residents of Johannesburg in 1888. This was just a mere two years after gold was first discovered in a dusty young town called Johannesburg. It served the male population and only barmaids did the serving. This seemed to keep the miners and prospectors quite happy and thus kept them coming back for more.
This pub which sits comfortably on the corner of Market and Harrison Street in the CBD has seen the ups and downs of the city's life this far. It saw the boom in activity when gold was luring attention towards Johannesburg. It saw the slump in town's reputation in the late 1980's and beyond when crime gnawed away at the city. Today it's attracting people back toward itself and the inner city as Johannesburg revamps itself. It's an unintimidating and relaxed place which just makes you feel at home as you enter it. The ground floor houses the old style large wooden bar as well as all the extra's a real old pub should have. There's the dart board, the TV's and the group of regulars perched on their favourite seats at the bar.
Up the twirling staircase is the balcony and restaurant area complete with its own smaller bar. I recommend sitting out on the balcony in the late afternoon with a cold one in hand and peering down onto the city below. The pub serves good Portuguese and other pub food and is open Mondays to Saturdays from 10am till late. It usually offers live DJ entertainment on Fridays, and karaoke on Thursdays but phone ahead to make sure that its happening. It's just a great meeting place, unpretentious and saturated with history. It's the perfect place to visit as you re-introduce yourself and your friends to the city.
So role play as a gold rush pioneer of the 19th century and have a pint or few at the Guildhall Pub, just like they used to.
Underground parking is available across the road, under Beyers Naude square or in the road outside. The Rea Vaya Bus system runs directly past the pub and the Library Gardens Eastbound Station is situated directly outside it.
42 Harrison Street (Corner of Market Street), Johannesburg
Tel: 011 833 1770
by Kelly Kidson