In the early 1980s, Yeoville was home to film makers, writers, actors, artists and musicians. Indeed, a lot of people involved in the industry today lived in Yeoville at some time: it was the creative hub of Johannesburg. The genteel, bohemian air of Yeoville in the 80s has been replaced by a vibrant, colourful central African population which has changed its flavour to that of a more African neighbourhood, with street traders and markets. It has created an interesting contrast between colonial architecture and modern African living.

Rocky Street, Yeoville
Skye TV, a British channel, is currently shooting a television series, some scenes of which are being filmed in Yeoville. Strike Back is a six part television serious centred on the current conflict in Iraq. San Remo, a distinctive but run down art deco block of flats on Kenmere Street, is the location for down town Baghdad.

The building was chosen for its age and texture. It's a once glorious building that with time and neglect now perfectly represents the dank, gritty feeling of a building in a war zone. Interiors and exteriors are being shot with a lot of the action taking place on the roof. The scenes in San Remo involve the rescue of a hostage by British SAS soldiers.

The cast comprises well known British actors and some top South African actors. One of the South African actors, David Butler, playing the part of arms dealer Bratton, who is the kidnapped hostage, says: "It's fantastic to revisit Yeoville again. I used to live in Yeoville, so I'm completely familiar with the location and it is very interesting to me how the character of Yeoville has changed - perhaps now the potential for its use as a location is even greater because of its diversity."

Yeoville have been used many times over the years for locations. South Africa's best known underground cult hit, Shotdown, directed by Andrew Worsdale, used streets, houses, flats and the Yeoville ridge as locations. The Bang Bang Club used the same Yeoville ridge but filmed on a famous incomplete building. The view from this open piece of veld gives spectacular city backdrops. Other productions such as the Oscar-winning Tsotsi, Soul Buddies, Case of Murder, Home Affairs, and Catch a Fire also used this neighbourhood.

Yeoville was proclaimed a suburb in 1890 and there are many great examples of Victorian houses, streetscapes and institutional buildings. Winchester Mansions opposite the 1913 Yeoville Water Tower, on Percy Street, is an example of perfectly preserved flats with lots of Victorian detail. These flats also offer incredible views of the city. On Isipingo Street, there is an exquisite Victorian corner shop called Isipingo Cafe.

All building in the neighbourhood of Yeoville stopped during the depression of 1929, but resumed again in 1933, at the height of the art deco craze that was gripping the world. The suburb has over two dozen art deco residential blocks, some quite quirky but most true to the style of portholes, symmetrical lines, rounded corners and balconies, but with modernist touches. The architects of the times took up the challenges of Yeoville's hills and dales with relish the blocks curve imaginatively around corners, adding style to the suburb. Diamond Court, Genoa Court and Granville Court and Helvetia Court in Bellevue with its wonderful mosaic floors are worth a visit. The Beacon Royal on the corner of Louis Botha Avenue and Grafton Road is a fine art deco building and a famous Yeoville landmark that has recently been renovated.

By 1970, it was a Jewish area with a number of synagogues. It was certified as one of the 'whites only' areas during the Apartheid years. In the 1980s artists, musicians, student and political activists started coming to Yeoville. Gradually, through the 1990s, Yeoville became a refuge for Nigerians, Congolese and Zimbabweans. It is now a suburb with an African immigrant population of nearly 70 percent. Although the large Jewish community who used to live there are long gone, there are still seven synagogues in the suburb in various states of repair, the most eye-catching being the sixties synagogue on Joe Slovo Drive.

Yeoville provides a truly pan African experience. There is a 24/7 vibe throughout Yeoville but in particular along Rocky and Raleigh Streets. Kinmalebo Restaurant on Raleigh Street, opposite Time Square, is a funky Congolese eatery, slightly sleazy and dark but still congenial, with a Central African feel. There is an internal courtyard with an internet cafe and a slab in the corner that serves as a slaughter house. The venue is full of well-dressed French-speaking Congolese. Next door is the better known Ikhaya Restaurant, which has a series of thatch structures built onto the facade of the house. Opposite, Raleigh Court has become a thriving retail centre with various internet cafes, Ethiopian restaurants, tailors and accommodation.

The Yeoville swimming pool is one of the City's oldest pools. The pool is on the busy corner of Kenmere and Raleigh, a constant stream of traffic and people. Built in 1931, the pool has striking columns finishing the entrance, now surrounded by colourful mosaic, and the small attractive, domed entrance hall.
Just before Raleigh becomes Rocky Street, there is a large pan African market with colourful cloth, West African robes, tailors, unfamiliar African roots and vegetables, crafts, cooked meals, and many hairdressers braiding hair.

The Rocky Street streetscape, despite some recent facelifts that include removing the original shop fronts, still has a distinctly turn of the 19th century feel albeit rather shabby and rundown in places. In between the cellphone shops, internet cafes, and street hawkers, crowding Rocky Street is the famous Tandoori, now a Rastafarian hangout spot and live music venue with an open balcony upstairs from which you get a great view of Yeoville.

Yeoville is not without its own drama: a little known fact is that the house on the corner of Isipingo and Bezuidenhout Street where famous South African writer, Herman Charles Bosman, shot his half brother, still stands patiently waiting for one of the City's heritage signs acknowledging this momentous event in the writer's life.