From dirt roads to gravel and ever forward

ALBERTON – The grading and gravelling of roads began in 1926 and this also brought another unexpected surprise to town. So arrives a motorcycle rider with the name of Dr Hope Trant. She and her elderly mother came to town and she became the first resident medical practitioner. With very little information on her, we know that she qualified in Dublin, and while living in Alberton she was both a lecturer and part-time student at the University of Witswatersrand, shuttling back and froth between her patients and the lecture rooms on her motorbike.

Dr Trant took it upon herself to teach the women in Alberton first aid, and after 10 years in town, leaving no descendants, she seemed to have vanished without a trace.

A third very prominent woman was Lill Bester, who had taken on the task of postmistress in 1917 and had run her little post office out of Overbury’s store. In 1926 a new Post Office was built and Lill went on to chalk up 21 years as Postmistress for Alberton.

Prior to 1917, post was collected on horse-back from Germiston by Little Charles, who brought the post to Mr Riordan’s house which also served as a general dealer, and pioneers collected their post there.

With a proper post office in place, the Committee was prompted to get Alberton numbered correctly and so 279 house numbers were ordered and a tender put out for a contractor to attach them to the house.

More exciting still for the residents was the electricity supply in 1928, providing street lights from 19:30 to 23:00 and for a few hours in the early mornings during winter months. Lights were switched off during moonlit nights.

By this time the plans for a water scheme was well under way, essential to the town with the wells and water-furrows being prone to pollution. The cost of the scheme seemed huge at the time, all of 8 000 pounds. The committee went to considerable lengths to offset the cost to consumers by reducing the electricity charge and making up any shortfalls by increasing rates. The cost to the public was a staggering six shillings per month per consumer.

*Taken from An Alberton Album, published by the Alberton Town Council 1997

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