Life in the 1920’s

The many vleis in the Pinelands area attracted yellow billed duck, pheasants and partridges, but also attracted mosquitoes which plagued residents. In the thick bush, duiker and hare were commonplace. Buck were still found in the area, with the claim that the last Steenbok was shot by Mr Maag outside his house in Central Avenue.

There were no shops among the thatched houses in Pinelands. The butcher and baker called daily in their horse drawn carts. The grocer, Mr. Irwin, called once a week to take orders and then delivered the next day. The shoe repairer also called weekly. Milk was obtained from Peacock’s Farm in the area of Dagbreek, while fresh vegetables were available at the morning market in Central Square.

Before electricity was introduced, the Imperial Cold Storage Company would supply ice boxes, and cooking was done on coal stoves. However, after a few years residents had the option of both electricity and piped gas. There were a few streetlights on wooden poles, but residents required either a torch or hurricane lamp when moving around the area.

There was no water borne sewerage but there was an efficient O’Brien bucket system serviced by the Ditchfield sanitation Company.

As most roads were still of sand or gravel, a horse drawn cart regularly sprayed water on the roads to reduce the dust. Forest Drive was by now one of the tarred roads although it had been originally hardened with gravel quarried from the Central Square area.

Residents travelled out of Pinelands towards Mowbray over a level crossing at the top of Forest Drive which was operated by a gatekeeper. A second crossing was opposite Maitland Garden Village which had been established a year earlier than Pinelands.

Public transport was limited to train and bus. A steam train to Cape Town picked up passengers at both Raapenburg and Pinelands stations. Towards the end of the 1920s a private single decker bus service commenced, travelling to Cape Town via Mowbray. The owner/driver dropped off parcels and delivered messages.

The Post Office was situated in Garden Cities’ offices situated at the top of Forest Drive near the rail crossing.

There were no medical facilities. In 1923, Michael Cox, was the first baby to be born and delivered in The Barn on Forest Drive. His father, Garth Cox, had designed the first houses in Pinelands.

The Horticultural Society was a focal point of the community, with annual flower shows despite residents struggling to create gardens due to the layer of hard ferricrete with lumpy iron stones and clay deposits.

Relaxation took place at the tennis and bowl clubs which were situated in the area of the disused brickfields. The cricket and football grounds were only ideas on a map. Books could be borrowed from a private library in Acacia Way. Children enjoyed the freedom of the open spaces, collecting mushrooms in the surrounding forest, swimming or canoeing on the many vleis and once built, having soapbox races down the only steep road, Ridgeway.

Spiritual needs were met by St Stephens Anglican “Church in the Woods” as it was called and the Wesleyan Church in the Town Hall. A private school was located in Central Avenue for local children.

The Police Camp still stood next to the tennis courts and members of the Pistol Club were permitted to do target practice at the camp. The residential properties initially ended at the tennis courts which had been established in 1923 but had started extending to Uitvlugt road.

The 1900 bubonic plague huts now housed elderly residents and in August of 1929 the Brown and Annie Lawrence Home for the elderly was built. Also, in 1929 the first five houses were built for what was to become the coloured housing section.

Pinelands mid 1920s still with gravel roads
Walking in the plantation with Forest Drive on the left