An ongoing task for heritage enthusiasts, history teachers, parents and others is to get young people excited about history and heritage. While browsing through the 1982 edition of Restorica, the old journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa), we found a wonderful piece by Dr Ruth E Gordon on this matter. Her advice is still as relevant today as it was then. These days we have a spectrum of technological innovations to help us in this endeavour. We loved the letter from Claire Thompson by the way.
South Africa General
[Originally published in mid 2015] Following a spate of attacks on colonial monuments around the country, paint was splattered on a post-apartheid statue on Gandhi Square in downtown Johannesburg. Eric Itzkin takes up the case of Gandhi and his bronze effigy.
[Published in 2013] Heritage SA, the oldest and largest heritage organisation in the country, recently held its annual symposium. One of the highlights was the gala dinner and awards ceremony where individuals from around the country were honoured for their contribution to heritage. The Heritage SA Gold Medal, the most prestigious award recognising achievement on a national level, was bestowed on Dr Roger Fisher. Below is the citation that accompanied the Medal.
This is a recollection of my personal journey and association with Karel, through which I would like to pay tribute to a giant who championed the cause of heritage conservation far beyond the borders of the country where he lived, worked and passed away.
A poor education, broken family structures and little hope of the life they wished for themselves and their families are what colonization and apartheid bestowed upon South Africa's black population in the late nineteenth century and into the twentieth century.
The fateful year of 1896 is one of the most momentous years in the history of South Africa, the reason being the coming together of events which provided the “Perfect Storm”.
The year started badly with the Jameson Raid, a blunder of epic proportions which polarised the attitudes of both Boer and Briton. However there was worse to come in the form of drought and pestilence, which would have an effect on all the people living in South Africa.
In 2013 a member of the heritage community asked if there were any viable lines that could be used to run a heritage railway. Railway enthusiast Richard Eades posted a wonderful reply which has been reproduced below.
The competition between Structural Steelwork and Reinforced Concrete in the realm of building construction can be likened to the rivalry between the Springboks and the All Blacks, in the sense that each continually attempts to better the other. The rivalries both on the construction site and on the rugby field have been going for nigh on 100 years and both have their die-hard fans. Fortunately the competition has largely been a healthy one bringing out the best in both.
A critique by Dr Frescura on the state of heritage conservation in South Africa appeared on The Heritage Portal on the 1st December, 2015. Ms Smuts and Mr Gribble, responded to the criticism, writing on behalf of SAHRA, in which they mount a defense of the national heritage resources authority (SAHRA). [Click here to view both pieces]
The development of structural steel as a building material and its attendant fabricating industry has played a major role in the growth of the industrialised world and has helped to create our modern way of life. Without structural steel the building of the railways, the building of bridges, the opening up of mines, the construction of factories for the manufacture of goods, and the production and transmission of power would never have progressed to the stage we are at today.
A few years ago a wonderful collection of old documents was found in the basement of a Johannesburg inner city building while the tenant (Nedbank) was moving out. One of the boxes we looked at contained details of Nedbank's 50th anniversary celebrations (circa 1938). It was here we found a remarkable set of images of a few Town / City Halls around the country. It appears as though the photographs were taken in the late 1930s. Enjoy...
The following article appeared in the 1998 edition of Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). Jonathan Mercer, then Assistant City Engineer Planning for Port Elizabeth, posed some tough questions about planning and enforcement in our cities. Many of his points are still relevant today. Thank you to the University of Pretoria (Restorica copyright holders) for allowing us to publish the piece.
The Settlers Park Monument is in fragments, the Horse Memorial is missing its Soldier, and Queen Victoria has a green dress. All across the nation, monuments are covered in graffiti and paint. The bronzes are corroding, the marbles are stained, and the iron is disappearing everywhere, but this is all in a day’s work in the life of an art conservationist.
In 1975 the singer-songwriter, Chris De Burgh released his second album entitled “Spanish Train and other Stories”. The title track was immediately banned in South Africa on sacrilegious grounds, due to the mention of the Devil playing poker for souls of the dead with Jesus Christ and the album was re-titled and issued here as “Lonely Sky and other Stories”.
Over the last few weeks the seeds of a very important discussion have been planted with some big names in the heritage sector speaking out. In late September 2015 Dr Franco Frescura, Professor and Honorary Research Associate at the University of Kwazulu-Natal, published a critique of the heritage resources management sector in South Africa. This included statements about the performance of the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) and the various Provincial Heritage Resources Authorities (PHRAs).
The catchphrase “Cape to Cairo” was first coined in 1874, by Edwin Arnold (editor of the Daily Telegraph) and was taken up by Cecil John Rhodes as a call for the “Civilisation” of Darkest Africa. To Rhodes civilisation meant the exploitation of the mineral wealth of the vast interior of the African continent. He was a controversial figure in his day and remains so today.
During the South African War of 1899-1902 blockhouses formed an essential part of British military strategy against Dutch forces. Initially these were fairly substantial and were used to guard key military points, but once the war moved into its final stages, they were used, together with barbed wire, as a means of limiting the movement of Republican commandos. All in all, some 8000 blockhouses were built over a period of two years, and although most were eventually dismantled, a number still remain in silent testimony of a bitter and foolish war.
On an earlier version of The Heritage Portal the following question was posted: "I need to repair the wooden flooring in my historic home. Any recommendations?" Adrian de Villiers, Chief Architect at the Department of Public Works replied with the following priceless advice.
The series on the History of Southern African Railways continues with this piece on the mighty Garratt engines that conquered the geography of the sub-continent. The article is a must read for any railway enthusiast!
This installment of the History of Southern African Railways series looks at the demise of the branch line network and will be relevant to many in the heritage community. Over the last few decades many lines have been closed and the heritage assets associated with them have fallen into disrepair. We certainly hope that Transnet's strategy to revitalise the branch line network will go some way towards turning this situation around.