Eglin and Wells Families

The Wells and Eglin families played a major role in the life of Pinelands from the early years. Major Frank Wells moved into 12 Meadway in 1922.   Frank’s brother-in-law, Carl Eglin and family moved in next door at 10 Meadway in 1923.  The houses were named Wellesley and Caronel respectively. 


Frank Wells, also known as Bolshie Wells, soon became involved in the community life of Pinelands. Together with his wife, they organised many community events.  Frank motivated for a Civic Association and   1923 Frank became a founder member of the Pinelands Civic Association which he chaired for 6 years. During this time, he fought tenaciously for a water borne drainage system.  He refused to accept the City Council’s 75 000-pound quote for the project and in an open tender process the work was carried out by a private firm for 37 000 pounds, a saving of 46%. 

 He was also a member of the local Board, a director on the Garden Cities Board and later a Councillor. He was a founder member of the Pinelands Athletics Club and served as vice president of both the Cricket Club and the Pinelands Hockey Club.  His informal Winter Sports Club transformed into the Pinelands Badminton Club. When Pinelands North Primary School opened, he served as the Chairman for six years. 

Prior to moving to Pinelands, Frank had served in the first World War enlisted with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Rifles which as a part of the South African 1st Infantry fought in the 1916 Battle of Dellville Wood.   Eighty percent of the Brigade were killed in the battle. After the war he joined the Royal Flying Corps. When World War 2 broke out Frank along with his sons, Stan, Douglas and Ron, enlisted with the Dukes Brigade and saw action in World War 2.

Returning to Pinelands after the war he once again became involved in the community and was elected as one of the first Pinelands Councillors in 1948.   

Mrs Wells was equally   involved in the Pinelands community by starting the St. Johns Ambulance cadets and was the Girls Guides secretary for 13 years as well as serving on the Scouts committee. 

Their three sons were active members of the Pinelands Athletics Club and in 1937 Douglas Wells followed in his father’s footsteps by also becoming involved not only with the Pinelands Athletics Club, but with the Pinelands Cricket Club and Pinelands Hockey club as well. He represented Pinelands Scouts at the 5th Scout World Jamboree in Netherlands in 1937 and played hockey for Western Province 

Stan Wells also served in the Korean War resulting the family being involved in all three wars. In Korea he was the first South African to pilot the USA (see the story “Another two pilots”)


Carl and Elsie Eglin were active in the life of the community including the religious life of Pinelands. Carl organised the first meeting of the Pinelands Methodist Church in July 1923 at his home.  Evening services were held in his home with his wife, Elsie, as the organist, until his death in 1934 following a long illness.  In 1948 the main entrance to the Methodist Church Hall was named the Carl Eglin entrance in his honour. 

Mrs Elgin was equally active in the community and laid the foundation stone of the Methodist Church building.   

Their son, Colin Wells Eglin, was one of the first babies to be born in Pinelands and was born in their home in 1925.  He spent many hours playing on the Mead opposite their house with his cousins Stan, Douglas and Ron Wells. 

Colin attended a private school in Pinelands called   Scan Lea which was run by Sheila Cassidy and Annie Nixon.  When the   Pinelands Primary School opened in 1931, he moved to the new school. However, after the death of his father in 1934 he became a boarder at De Villiers Graaff school in Villiersdorp where he completed matric at age 14. He returned home to Pinelands and enrolled at UCT for a degree in Quantity Surveying, qualifying after four years. In 1943 he signed up with the South African Defence Force as a bombardier.   After a few months at a military base in Ottery, he volunteered for active service and was sent to Cairo.  In July he was transferred to the Cape Town Highlanders in Libya and was sent to fight in Italy. After fighting in the Battle for Monte Saco he was commissioned to lay telephone lines. Under heavy fire from the Germans, taking the cables as high up as possible preceding the coming battle for Monte Sole.  On the day after his 20th birthday, the South African forces stormed Monte Sole taking the German stronghold.  Casualties were high with 31 South Africans killed and 78 injured. Two weeks later the Germans surrendered Italy. Over the years Colin made numerous trips back to the area building a lasting relationship with the townspeople of Castiglione die Pepoli. For his role in the battles of Mont Saco and Mont Sole, Colin was made an honorary citizen of Grizzna Morandi by the residents. 

The war in Italy ended two weeks later and while waiting to the sent back home, Colin started a fund to which servicemen donated two days’ pay for a memorial to fallen soldiers which culminated in the Red Cross Memorial Hospital in Rondebosch being opened in 1953.                                                                                                                                       

After returning to Pinelands from active service Colin became heavily involved in the Pinelands Community. He founded the Pinelands Young Peoples Club, became the commander of the local MOTHS Shelhole and served as the chair of the Pinelands Civic Association.  He became active in the Torch Commando, a civic protest against apartheid where he was joined by the Wells family in the Commando’s marches.  

From 1952 to 1954 Colin served as a Councillor in the Pinelands Municipality.    He was elected as a United Party Provincial Councillor for Pinelands in 1954.  In 1958 he was elected unopposed as member of Parliament for Pinelands for the United Party.  In 1959 became a founding member of the Progressive Party causing him to lose his seat in the 1961 elections. He returned to Parliament in 19XX as the MP for Sea Point.   In the interim Colin had become the leader of the Progressive Party in 1971 and again in 1974. He was also Leader of the official Opposition from 1977 to 1979 and again from 1986 to 1987.  With Joe Slovo, Colin played a key role in the formation of the democratic South African constitution, a role recognised by Mandela. 

He retired from Parliament in 2004 and passed away in 2013.