Cape Town

The following article on the history and restoration of the landmark Martello tower in Simon's Town appeared in the September 1973 edition of Bulletin. Thank you to David Erickson from the Simon's Town Historical Society for providing many of the museum photographs. See comments section for more recent details on the Tower.

[Originally published in 2014] In the following powerful opinion piece Richard Bryant, Chairman of the Kommetjie Heritage Society, takes a critical look at some of the City of Cape Town's development policies and how they are impacting the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas (World Heritage Site). He argues that not only is the Word Heritage Site at risk but people's lives and properties as well.

Dr Bruno Werz from the African Institute for Marine and Underwater Research, Exploration and Education (AIMURE) is leading a team to try and find the wreck of the Haerlam (or Haarlam) - click here for details. The wrecking of the Haerlam is recognised by many as the catalyst that led to the establishment of a refreshment station which later developed into the City of Cape Town. In 1975 Mervyn Emms used various archival sources to estimate the location of the wreck.

While paging through an old copy of Bulletin, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa), we came across this short but fascinating article on the origins the Chavonnes Battery. It was written by Mervyn Emms and was published in June 1975.

The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is one of the great South African adaptive reuse case studies. Below is an in depth article on the work conducted during the first phase of this landmark project (completed 1990/1). The piece appeared in the 1992 edition of Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). Thank you to the University of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish.

Lion Battery is a richly layered historical, social, architectural, aesthetic, scientific and technological landscape. The battery and its historical layering was influenced by significant international events. It is today the site from where Cape Town’s famous noon gun is fired from. Construction started in 1888 and was completed in 1890. By June 1890 both No. 1 and No. 2 emplacements were ready for the mounting of 9 inch RML Guns. All work was done by pick and shovel.


[Originally published in 2014] This is the last installment on the Robben Island Garrison Church. Just to recap. In January 2011 Robben Island Museum (RIM) had cash in and wanted to facelift the obvious visible parts of the main street before the proposed visit by World Heritage in February. As this series is about poor research this part really highlights the absolute value of good research. Good research and good observation on site is critical. The two should go hand in hand in a reiterative process.

[Originally published in 2014] The restoration had proceeded reasonably to a conclusion in November 2004 ready for handover from the contractor to the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Robben Island Museum (RIM). In July the tower and particularly the NE buttress had been partially stripped to the brick, re-plastered and painted. Six months later in early January 2005 the then Heritage Manager for Robben Island reported to SAHRA that the paint had started to blister in places on the tower. By February 2005 the paint had started peeling.

[Originally published in 2014] I ask some very simple questions when doing research and writing subsequent reports for restoration, renovation, repair or, maintenance on a heritage site. What, Where, When, Who, Why and How [the golden six]. I often find that the Why and How is missing or very brief when reports are written before and afterwards. This complicates things of course so reading between the lines becomes an art.

[Originally published in 2014] What happens when poor or no research is done when decisions are made for restoration, repair or maintenance to a heritage site is ably demonstrated by the history of the Garrison Church on Robben Island. For more than 150 years the church was and still is a landmark in the Village Precinct on the Island. In this series of articles I will track the restoration attempts over this period.

We always get excited when we find detailed information on the story behind a blue plaque. The following article about Joachim Nikolaus Von Dessin, whose book collection became the foundation of the first public library in South Africa, was published in a December 1974 edition of The Argus. We stumbled across it in the archives of the Heritage Association of South Africa (HASA).

In 1979 Elizabeth Lankenhall, Public Relations Officer for Gordon Verhoef and Krause, penned an article for Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). The piece looked at aspects of the history of the landmark Old Town House in Greenmarket Square Cape Town. Thank you to the University of Pretoria (Restorica copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish.

[Originally published in 2014] Andrew Carnegie, an American philanthropist, wrote an article proclaiming “The Gospel of Wealth” and urged the wealthy to improve society. When he made the offer of a Library, Muizenberg, like many other villages, took advantage of his generosity. In 1910, The Carnegie Library replaced the first library in the Municipal offices.

We are honoured to publish this fascinating piece compiled by Chris Taylor of the Muizenberg Historical Conservation Society. It tells the remarkable story of the 2014 discovery of a cannonball that was fired during the Battle of Muizenberg (1795). Thank you to Colin Johnstone for sending it through. [Originally published in May 2014]

The article below, compiled by then City Engineer J.G. Brand, appeared in a 1983 edition of Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). It provides a fascinating look at the origins and development of the Company's Garden in Cape Town. Thank you to the University of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish.


We found the following article by B.I. Spaanderman in the 1991 edition of the old Johannesburg Historical Foundation's journal Between the Chains. It looks at a number of South African mills with a particular focus on Millbank, the closest to Johannesburg.

The fascinating article below appeared in the first ever edition of Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). It looks at the building of the Roeland Street Prison and its transformation from 'palace' to rat infested institution. The prison was demolished a few decades ago to make way for what is known today as the Western Cape Archives and Records Service. Part of the outer wall and the old main entrance to the prison have been preserved.

We are very excited to publish this piece on what appears to be South Africa's oldest surviving windmill. The article was written by Ivor Dekenah (note the surname) and appeared in the 1981 edition of Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation, known today as the Heritage Association of South Africa (HASA). Thank you to the Restorica copyright holders, the University of Pretoria, for giving us permission to publish.

[Originally published January 2014 - Click here to view updates  For almost four years there has been controversy relating to a proposed addition to the 18th century warehouse in the Lutheran Church block in Strand Street. The structure has been altered radically over the years and, today, it is prized for its landmark importance; its context in the close association it has with the historical Lutheran Church and the culturally significant structures in Strand Stre

In the first installment of the series on the history of Southern African railways, Peter Ball described some of the earliest railways in the country and the extension of a number of lines into the interior. In this article he looks at the fascinating politics and economics of the 'Race for the Rand'.


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