South Africa General

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.

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.

In the previous installment of the History of Southern African Railways series Peter Ball looked at the role of the railways during the South African War. In this piece he looks at post war reconstruction, the completion of various lines and the contribution of the railways to political union in South Africa.

Following hot on the heels of the 'Race to the Rand' here is the third installment of the History of Southern African Railway Series by Peter Ball. The article looks at the role of the railways during the South African War (the Second Anglo-Boer War).

The county of Cornwall, in England’s south west, is a well known holiday destination renowned for its scenic beauty and it comes as a surprise to many a visitor that the county has an industrial past. From the mid-18th century Cornwall was as industrialised as the Midlands and North of England and it was one of the most important metalliferous mining areas in the world. In fact the metal Tin had been exploited in Cornwall by the Romans in the 3rd & 4th centuries AD, after their previous source - the Spanish tin mines, were worked out.

During the past few months a number of South African university campuses have seen a spate of student protests against the presence of statues honouring our colonial past. Rightly or wrongly, these have resulted in the vandalization and removal of some of these memorials.

Remembrance Day, or Poppy Day as it is sometimes known, is observed every year on 11 November, or on the nearest Sunday to that date. How many people these days know what this date signifies? Over the years, many South Africans have lost sight of the significance of the term 'remembrance' in the military sense. This short article will attempt to rectify this.

 

Headgears are the ultimate symbol of the mammoth Southern African mining industry. They tower over billions of rands worth of wealth and help to sustain vast underground cities. They are appreciated by millions around the world and we are blessed to have some of the finest examples. The article below provides an overview of the purpose and significance of headgears.

Corrugated iron was developed and patented in Britain around 1830 and has travelled the world. Born during the industrial revolution it travelled to the expanding colonies of the Empire, notably to Australia, India & South Africa; it also found popularity on the frontiers of the Americas and wherever it went it transformed the landscape.

Bookplates are a collecting subject in their own right and are a bibliophile's delight. A bookplate is very simply a sticky decorative label for pasting on the front  inside cover or boards of a book proclaiming ownership and indicating that this particular book belongs to xxx library or person. Often the words "ex Libris"  appear showing that the book is from a specific library, it could be an individual or an institution. When one acquires an old book with a bookplate it becomes part of the provenance of the previous ownership of a volume.

Last week The Monitoring Project broke the news that six sites have been removed from South Africa’s tentative world heritage list. In follow up we spoke to a number of people involved in the preparation of tentative lists and site nominations regarding the changes and what they mean for site conservation. We also received feedback from a variety of stakeholders working on site nominations at a local level. We provide a summary of responses received.

In what has come as a complete shock to many in the local heritage community, six local sites have quietly been removed from the country’s tentative World Heritage Site list. Jacques Stoltz from the Heritage Monitoring Project investigates. [Originally published 24 July 2015]

The sites in question are: 

[Originally published August 2015] Last week Roger Fisher of Artefacts fame (and so much more) got in touch to ask if the small memorial plaque in the Standard Bank, Commissioner St, Johannesburg, for Standard Bank employees killed during the First World War still existed. Letitia Myburgh, Head of the Standard Bank Heritage Centre confirmed that it still did and sent through some details. The email conversation inspired Kathy Munro to write a fascinating piece on the lesser known memorials located in corporate and institutional offices.

The question above is one that has been asked and answered many times over the years. We are repeating it now as we feel the South African Heritage community needs to continuously push the simple idea that we can help the country to achieve its development goals. This idea is expressed throughout the City of Johannesburg's Heritage Policy. Below are a few excerpts from this policy:

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