South Africa General

In today’s world, large infrastructure projects such as the state of the art “Gautrain” rapid transit railway between Johannesburg and Pretoria (80 km in length) are constructed using mechanised plant and equipment for better productivity when working to tight project schedules (fast tracking). Occupational Health and Safety on construction sites has become a main concern when it comes to planning and executing large civil engineering projects with hazard operability studies (HAZOPS) and risk assessments being mandatory.

If you page through archive copies of Restorica, the old journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation, one company has a regular presence as an advertiser: Gordon Verhoef & Krause. Below are adverts from the mid 1970s to the early 1990s showing significant restoration projects from around the country that the firm was proud to be involved in. Look closely for details. Thank you to the Heritage Association of South Africa (HASA) and the University of Pretoria for giving us permission to publish.

 

The recent discovery in the cellar of a home in Saxonwold, Johannesburg of an old discoloured, brass plaque is a heritage opportunity and opens space for reviewing the motives and outcomes of the Royal Visit to South Africa in 1947.

For many years, members of the heritage community have been talking about establishing guidelines for the blue plaque world. For a variety of reasons none have yet been set but renewed efforts appear to be emerging in Johannesburg. To aid the discussion we thought it would be helpful to publish the results of a survey we conducted during February and March 2014. 

“Be quiet and calm, my countrymen, for what is taking place now is exactly what you came to do. You are going to die, but that is what you came to do. Brothers, we are drilling the drill of death. I, a Xhosa, say you are all my brothers, Zulu, Swazis, Pondos, Basutos, we die like brothers, for though, they made us leave our weapons at home, our voices are left with your bodies.”

On 15 September 2016, the South African Heritage Resources Agancy (SAHRA) hosted a colloquium on 'Heritage and Development'. Heritage expert Herbert Prins attended and presented a paper arguing that the heritage resources management system has failed to achieve its purpose and that until equlibrium is restored there is no chance of achieving a balance between heritage conservation and development. The full paper is published below.

"For young black South Africans like myself," Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography, "it was Oxford and Cambridge, Harvard and Yale all rolled into one." Of the hundreds of pages in Long Walk To Freedom, barely a dozen recount Mandela's days at Fort Hare University. Understandably so. He spent less than two years of his 94 years as a student there.

It is hard to believe that it has only been a few decades since South Africa adopted the metric system. The shift had a profound impact on the economy and the daily lives of citizens. Many of South Africa's largest trading partners at the time were either using the metric system or had committed to moving over. This provided the impetus for South Africa to get going. The strength of the apartheid state ensured that implementation was highly effective.

The question is easy to answer; South Africa was formerly part of the British Empire, which decreed that the rule of the road was to keep left in order to avoid collision, end of story.

NO not the end of story. The real question to be asked, is why does Britain (and her former colonies) drive on the left, when 65% of the countries of the world drive on the right?

Her birthplace remains a bone of contention but Charlotte Maxeke's legacy as a woman visionary is cemented in the annals of South African history. She was born Charlotte Mmakgomo Manye on 7 April 1874 in either Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape, or at Botlokwa Ga-Ramokgopa, in Polokwane District, in the Limpopo Province, South Africa.

The old saying that “Good walls make for good neighbours” has been taken to heart in Johannesburg, where high walls have sprung up where once there were only low diamond mesh fences and hedges to keep the children and pets from straying onto the road.

Limit State Design shares the same acronym – LSD with the psychedelic drug Lysergic (Acid) Diathylamide, the “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” of the Beatles, even if John and Paul denied the association. Likewise more than a few Structural Engineers that studied in the “Swinging Sixties” are in denial over the merits of LSD, a design philosophy at variance with the time honoured pre-computer age method of ASD – Allowable Stress Design.

The zenith of long distance passenger travel by train world wide was during the period between the two World Wars (1919 to 1939) thereafter there was increasing competition from other modes of transport, notably the airliner and the motor vehicle (utilising modern road infrastructure), which led to a rapid decline in patronage for rail travel. At the ending of the Second World War (1945) there was a large surplus of Douglas Dakota twin engine aircraft that were sold off at bargain prices, this effectively kick started the modern airline industry.

Present day Southern Africa has inherited its railway gauge from a bygone era of 142 years ago, when in 1873 the decision was made to reduce the gauge from 4’-8½” to 3’-6”, when the Cape Government Railways (CGR) planned its extension from Wellington to Worcester for the reasons why see “Ox Wagon to Iron Horse” - click here to view.

In 1996, George Zondagh, then Chief Architect at the Department of Public Works, set out a few ideas about the role of the Department in heritage preservation. Although some parts of the article are out of date, many of the key principles are just as relevant today as they were two decades ago. The article first appeared in Restorica, the joural 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 permision to publish.

Born in Palermo on 1st October 1910, Giuseppe Maniscalco was one of a large family of 8 children. After the sudden death of his father, his mother was unable to support the children alone and therefore decided to leave Palermo and travelled to family and friends in Trapani. With the consent of Giuseppe's mother, the children were split up and were adopted by other friends and relatives.

Last month we published an article from the Restorica archives where the author spoke about the power of excursions to heritage sites to inspire the youth (click here to read). We are sure most readers can remember at least one phenomenal trip during their childhood that has left an impact to this day. Over the last few weeks we have been sent some wonderful stories and photographs of recent adventures.

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