||This beautiful church, on the neglected western edge of the inner city, cuts a lonely, incongruous picture - until you realise that Ferreirasdorp was one of the first mining camps in the tent town that sprung up after gold was discovered in 1886.
The site was first demarcated for the coloured Anglican community in 1898 with a wood and iron building. This was replaced by a solid red brick structure in 1928, which still stands tall and striking almost 80 years later. But now it is surrounded by warehouses and light industrial buildings.
It was designed by architect Frank Fleming, one-time partner to respected architect Herbert Baker. Fleming also designed the Christ the King Anglican Church in Sophiatown.
The finely laid red brick on the outside of the building continues into the church, perfectly offsetting the wooden floors and high, wood-lined ceiling. The altar, often ornate and elaborate in Anglican churches, is simple and elegant. It is distinguished from the rest of the interior by a tall bridge structure, dominated by a suspended carved, full-size Christ on the cross. Mary and Joseph are placed on either side, looking down on the congregation.
Down the north side of the church is a row of tall, arched, leaded windows, which allow the afternoon sun to illuminate the sparse rows of plastic chairs – the original wooden benches were removed to St Mary's Cathedral some time ago.
The southern side has small lead-glass windows, not visible from inside because a series of offices have been built along that side - enclosing the windows but not distracting from the simple beauty of the interior. The walls are bare of ornamentation, lending extra significance to the three suspended figures.
Father John Ntsoko, who has conducted Sunday services at the church since last year, says the congregation – about 120-strong – consists mainly of domestic workers from the CBD, Midrand, Alberton and Soweto. He describes his weekly service as "vibrant and lively".
In 1958 the Anglican diocese was stationed here, under bishops Desmond Tutu and Duncan Buchanan.
This side of town was traditionally the home of the coloured community. In the same year as the church opened, a Coloured Girls' Hostel opened in Ferreirasdorp, according to Naomi and Reuben Musiker in A Concise Historical Dictionary of Greater Johannesburg.
In the 1960s the community was moved, in the name of apartheid. But, like the vacant plots of District Six in Cape Town, a large area of veld remains, scattered with gum trees.
The City plans to recommend that St Alban's becomes a provincial heritage site.