In the short article below, an unknown author explores a few blue plaques in Cape Town including one commemorating Herbert Baker's last building in South Africa. The piece appeared in the 1978 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 (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish.
Distinctly superior compared to many other photographs, the lady in the photograph is elegant and clearly a well-to-do individual. The name inscribed in the album – Hilda Duckitt - Who is she?
In a pre-1910 photographic family album recently acquired by the author, two images were found of Hildagonda (Hilda) Duckitt taken at different stages in her life.
Standing beside a provincial road, the R44 just outside Wellington in the Western Cape, is a blockhouse, a remnant of the Anglo-Boer War, one of those erected on the instigation of Lord Milner. There are a number in the area which followed and provided security on the vital link for the British, the rail line between the Cape and the north.
The Wellington blockhouse is the southernmost in the chain. It was constructed of stone with three tiers of loopholes under concrete lintels, with an open, corrugated iron roof.
Over the years I have photographed hundreds of plaques in South Africa and beyond. Most are easy to find as they are well documented and placed within easy view. Some, on the other hand, are a bit more tricky. Below is my list of five sneaky blue plaques...
1) Charles and Isabelle Lipp
In recent years, the coastline of the Overstrand Municipality has become closely linked with whales. The ‘Cape Whale Coast’ logo appears on virtually every website for tourists from Pringle Bay to Danger Point and beyond. Hermanus has promoted itself as having ‘the best land-based whale watching in the world’.
In this article, first published in 1976, Patricia Storrar does a masterly job debunking the myth that George Rex, the founder of Knysna, was the illegitimate son of King George III. She also reveals fascinating biographical information on Rex and provides details of the spaces and places associated with him. The article was published in Restorica, the old journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). Thank you to the Univerity of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish.
In the article below, James Walton reveals some early Cape brewing history and emphasises the significance of the Mariendahl Brewery in Newlands. The article was published in the 1976 edition of Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). In the mid 1990s, the complex was transformed into a visitors centre (click here for an overview of the project).
In the article below, Norah Henshilwood traces the early history of Claremont and reveals some of her memories of the suburb. The piece first appeared in the 1976 edition of Restorica, the old 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.
Joseph Calder Munro, a Scot by birth, made a significant contribution to Pretoria’s photographic history. Many of his photographs have survived and can be found in various national and private research collections. Photographs produced by him still surface on a regular basis - mainly at antique fairs.
In researching this article, it became evident that hardly any photographer active during the Anglo-Zulu War (AZW) period has been written about. In the majority of sources consulted, photographers also generally have not been acknowledged where their work was used – be that as photographers out in the field or studio based photographers. This may be a simple matter of us not being aware of who the photographers were in the majority of instances.
In the article below, originally published in 1975, Gwen and Gawie Fagan look at the history and restoration of Schroder House in Stellenbosch. The article appeared in 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 holder) for giving us permission to reproduce here.
Fifty years after van Riebeeck landed at the Cape, the Tygerburg hills were occupied by loan farms. Within these farms was an outspan with a good strong spring of sweet water that became an important stopping place on the road to the north.
Another process of research, another unlikely link uncovered between Hermanus and events of world significance a long way away. This time it is the “Burma Campaign” that took place in the country we now call Myanmar between 1942 and 1945. It started with the Japanese invasion of Burma in preparation for the final target – the invasion of India and access to natural resources to sustain the Japanese military campaigns.
I was recently given four photographs of early 20th century Cape Town. They are all in sepia brown shades. The dimensions are 8.5 x 11.30 inches. The edges of the photos are in poor condition but the main scenes are clearly visible. I would love to date these photographs.
They are clearly from the photographic studio of TP Ravenscroft and the one of Sea Point has a stamp on the reverse TD Ravenscroft.
Ganzekraal is a farm dating back to the early 1700s. It was a key farm in the Groene Kloof (as the area north of Rietvlei and all the way to Geelbek on the Langebaan Lagoon was referred to in the time of the VOC) and is significant as part of the network of farms and buiteposte that stretched the VOC influence all the way from the Castle to Saldanha Bay.
In April this year the charming Victorian village of Matjiesfontein will host a weekend of talks and events commemorating the history of the South African / Anglo Boer War (click here for details). One of the speakers is Dr Dean Allen who has written the definitive history of Matjiesfontein and its founder James Logan (many readers will be familiar with his book Empire, War and Cricket in South Africa). In the article below, Allen explores key aspects of Logan's rem
Few visitors driving through Hout Bay on the way to Chapman’s Peak Drive will have failed to notice in the sea below the road a curious concrete and steel jetty - usually the resting place of a number of cormorants drying themselves in the sun! This marks the most immediately visible remnant of one of the Cape’s most remarkable early mining ventures, the Hout Bay manganese mine.
Fifty five years ago Hermanus experienced its longest and most high profile contact ever with the Royal Navy. The famous aircraft carrier HMS Victorious officially visited the town for two incident-packed days that galvanised the whole population.
Strubenheim is a majestic historic mansion in Rosebank, Cape Town. It belonged to Harry Struben who, along with his brother Fred, played a crucial part in the story of the discovery of the largest goldfield on earth. Although they cannot claim to have discovered the Witwatersrand's main reef, it was their pioneering efforts on the Confidence Reef nearby that drew others to Langlaagte where the big discovery was made (click here for further details).