Cape Town

[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'.

Over the coming months we will be publishing a series of articles, compiled by Peter Ball, on the history of Southern African railways. The first installment looks at some of the earliest railways in the country and the extension of various lines into the interior (driven by the great mineral discoveries of the second half of the nineteenth century).

This is an important moment in which we celebrate the recovery of an element of Cape Town’s lost transportation heritage: milestones. And it coincides with the bi-centenary of their installation along Main Road: milestones exactly like the one pictured below (located opposite the well known Olympia Cafe Main Road Kalk Bay) were first placed along Main Road in 1814 – 1815 during the governorship of Lord Charles Somerset.

 

[Originally published 23 March 2015] The Heritage Association of South Africa (HASA) has noted with great interest the public debate on the matter of colonial-era public memorials and place names – in this particular case those associated with Cecil John Rhodes – for some a great British statesman and industrialist, and for others an imperialist whose colonial and mining labour policies and practices doomed entire generations of black communities – all across the ‘pink’ map of colonial Africa.

We are very excited to publish this wonderful article from the Restorica archives (November 1976). M. A. P. Diemont Jr delves into the fascinating history of the design and construction of the old South African Reserve Bank Building in Cape Town. Today the building forms part of the Taj Hotel Complex. Thank you to the University of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish. Restorica is the old journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation, today the Heritage Association of South Africa.

Take a journey back in time before the car, the plane and luxurious train and you will find some epic railway journey stories. The article below tells the tale of a trip from Cape Town to Bloemfontein in 1889. It reveals the adventure, risks and tragedy of the ten day journey. The piece appeared in a 1907 edition the South African Railway Magazine. Thank you to the Heritage Office at Transnet for giving us access to their archives.

In the article below Lesley T Townsend takes a brief look at the history and architectural style of the Bo-Kaap as well as the major restoration project that took place in the early 1970s. The article appeared in the 1975 edition of Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation, today the Heritage Association of South Africa (HASA). Thank you to the University of Pretoria for giving us permission to publish.

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