Below is a short write-up on the architectural style of our house

Thursday, 5 February 2015

The Man behind The Pretoria News

Pretoria News offices
Leo Weinthal
Every month we look forward to receiving the Pretoria Brief compiled by Rosa Swanepoel (translated and disseminated by Adrian de Villiers). It contains fascinating historical snippets of the characters, buildings and events of Pretoria. The August edition contains a piece which gives us a small glimpse of Leo Weinthal...journalist, writer, entrepreneur and founder of the Pretoria News.

"In 1889, A.H. Nellmapius established a printing press in Pretoria and two newspapers, ‘De Pers’ (a weekly paper in Dutch) and ‘The Press’, (an English paper, initially bi-weekly, which later became a daily paper) were produced. ‘De Pers’ and ‘The Press’ started in a small building on the north-western corner of Koch (Bosman) and Vermeulen Street (Madiba) and later moved to a double storey building in Church Street. Leo Weinthal (1865-1930) became editor in 1891. [The press closed in 1899]

Leo was of German origin and grew up in the Jewish faith. He studied in Hamburg, Germany as well as the Grey Institute in Port Elizabeth as a photographer. In 1887, he moved to the ZAR and joined the Department of the Land Surveyor–General, in Pretoria as a state lithographer. He was more interested in journalism and in 1888, he became the principal agent of Reuter in the Transvaal, a position he held up to 1897. He also represented The Times and the Daily Telegraph (London).

Upon the resignation of the editor of The Press/De Pers in 1891, Leo took up the position. As a result, the newspaper supported the Kruger Government. Following the death of Nellmapius in August 1893, Leo approached the Rand mining magnate, J.B. Robinson to buy the press... Robinson was also a supporter of the Kruger Government.

After the Jameson Raid, there was a clash between Leo and the Government as a result of a report he had published concerning the Transvaal Press Act in 1896. Leo, strongly opposed by Dr. W.J. Leyds [State Secretary] and in disagreement with Robinson, felt it was necessary to resign. For a while, he spent some time in Natal, but in 1898, he returned to start the midday paper, The Pretoria News, which still exists today. With the outbreak of war in 1899, he served as a special war correspondent for various American newspapers. After the British occupation of Pretoria in June 1900, he was medically advised to move to London.

In 1905, assisted by the mining magnate Alfred Beit,  he established an illustrated weekly called 'The African World and Cape to Cairo Express' and another title ‘The Anglo-German Courier’. He travelled a lot in Africa and later, using his personal observations, he compiled travel and guide books.

Initially he had been a fiery supporter of the Z.A.R., but later became a zealous protagonist in support of the ideas of Rhodes, Beit and others, who were dreaming of an Africa flying under the British flag.

His most distinctive work is an encyclopaedic publication in five volumes, The Story of the Cape to Cairo Railway and the River Route from 1887 to 1922 (1922-1924), of which he was the chief editor and compiler. He also wrote a biography of J.B. Robinson: Memories, Mines and Millions (1929).

He died in London in 1930."

This write-up was reproduced from the the Heritage Portal newsletter - Feb 2015

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