Preserving Heritage

Preserving heritage in Pinelands takes many forms. It could be preserving whole areas or individual memorials. Some memorials are buildings such as the SAWAS Home and the Clareinch Home, but it is rumoured that both of these buildings are to be demolished. There is a statue to Wolraad Woltemade although he was not directly linked to Pinelands. Plaques are to be found in Meadway and other areas. Roads have been named after individuals, for example Logan Way and Rose Innes Way. Road names can also have a history. The Crossing is where the old ox wagon crossing was situated and Scouts Place got its name after a major Scout Jubilee Camp was held in the area.

 In 1922, Stuttaford invited Jan Smuts to lay the foundation stone for Pinelands when the first 24 residential properties became occupied. The Foundation stone was eventually laid by Smuts in the following year at Central Square at the end of Central Avenue. It originally had a sundial on top which was continually stolen in recent years despite the brass being replaced by plastic.

The next record of a memorial was in 1935 when a plaque and tree was dedicated to Victor Aschman. Aschman was actively involved in the early sporting life of Pinelands including being a founding member of the Cricket Club. When he died suddenly in 1934 it was decided to erect a simple memorial.  At a ceremony held on 24th August 1935, an oak tree was planted with a small plaque at the Oval. Sadly, the tree and plaque can no longer be found.

On 1 June 1953, the Mayor of Pinelands, Councillor Gardener unveiled a granite commemoration stone and a bench in recognition of the crowning of Queen Elizabeth who had been in Pinelands with her parents during the Royal visit to South Africa in 1947. Many residents have happy memories of the Royal family driving down Forest Drive in a huge black Daimler as residents lined the road with flags waving. At one stage a dog ambled across the road near Alices Ride causing the cavalcade to stop. The new Queen’s great aunt was Princess Alice who had close ties with the Pinelands. The ceremony was attended by 400 residents. The festivities ended with Pinelands school children whose birthdays coincided with the Coronation, planting a tree. At the same time swings were installed. The steam roller which had been used to build the roads in Pinelands was donated in 1965. This monument is possibly the most defaced in Pinelands. At one stage the Municipality removed the lettering and had the wording engraved to reduce the vandalization.

The park in Central Square had originally been a quarry for gravel used in building the roads. In 1954 Garden Cities discussed the area becoming a Garden of Remembrance. In 1956 it handed the area over to the Municipality of Pinelands which landscaped it as a botanical garden in 1959. Finally, the Garden of Remembrance was established in memory of those who had fallen in World War 2. In 1994 the Garden was redesigned and rededicated by the mayor to all those who had fallen in conflict. The central fountain with four marble dolphins was dismantled. In 2010 one of the dolphins was found at the Municipal Nursery and taken to the library for safe keeping, but it subsequently disappeared. In 2009 the memorial plaques were stolen, replaced and stolen again two months later. It was decided to replace the plaques with a brass-like material. After 24 months a suitable material was found but no one could remember the actual wording. Fortunately, the original wording was traced and the plaques were eventually reinstated, only to be continuously stolen and discarded once they were found to be worthless.

The well-known story of Wolraad Woltemade is celebrated by a bronze statue at the Old Mutual head office in Pinelands. In June 1773 Wolraad, saw the plight of sailors on the shipwrecked De Jonge Thomas at Paarden Eiland. With a gale raging, he took his horse, Vonk, into the surf six times. On his last trip panicking sailors grabbed onto his horse. Both he and the horse with the sailors, drowned. Of the 191 crew, 53 survived of which 14 were saved by Woltemade. In 1956 Mitford-Barberton was commissioned to sculpt a statue of Wolraad Woltemade for the Van Riebeeck Festival in 1952. In 1955 Old Mutual decided to have a similar statue placed outside their offices in Pinelands. Mitford-Barberton was once again commissioned to sculpt a new statue which was unveiled at the opening of Mutual Park in 1956. Of interest is that the nearby Mutual Railway Station was initially named Woltemade Station 3. There was a similar incident to Woltemade’s gallant rescue in 1821 when the youth Francis Rose rode his horse into the stormy surf at the Salt River mouth in Table Bay to rescue the crew of the shipwrecked Danish ship, the Indian Packet. Francis had fetched his horse and swam out repeatedly in the storm-swept sea. Ultimately the exhausted horse sank, causing both rider and horse to drown. The last crew were able to make it safely to shore. Francis had saved all the crew.

The former Pinelands Post Office in Central Avenue had two old cannons cemented upside down on the path as bollards and a King Edward VII post box. There is no history available on the source of these cannons. When the Post Office closed, the cannons were to be removed. Alderman Watkyns intervened, and the postal authorities agreed to donate the cannons to Pinelands Municipality to be placed in the Garden of Remembrance. Due to the extreme weight of the cannons a special truck was hired to move them. For whatever reason only one cannon was delivered to the municipality while the other one was taken to their guarded depot in Maitland. When the municipality went to collect the second cannon it was nowhere to be found. Questions were tabled in parliament as to the fate of the cannon, but every lead was a dead end. There is now one lonely cannon in the Garden. The post box was manufactured in London between 1901 and 1910 by McDowall, Steven & Co. Ltd. and was also donated to the Municipality where it now stands in Mead Way.

The Mead and Meadway and all their buildings were proclaimed a National Monument in 1982 after there had been joint representations by Garden Cities, the Pinelands Ratepayers Association and the Municipality of Pinelands. On 22nd April 1983 a monument was unveiled by the Mayor, Basil Cullen in recognition of the Pinelands Garden City being both the first Garden City in South Africa and the first planned town in South Africa. The guests included the son of Richard Stuttaford with his wife and sister-in-law Diana Stuttaford. As the ceremony was about to begin, rain came pouring down but soon a tent was erected, and the ceremony could start. There was a scarcity of stone masons available to do the work, which caused some anxiety. But it was prepared in time.

Two months later Garden Cities opened the Richard Bawden Stuttaford Museum in their offices at Founders House in Howard Drive. This project had started in 1978 and depicted the start of Garden Cities and the development of Pinelands. Welwyn, the first Garden City in the world donated material about Ebenezer Howard and the Stuttaford family donated Richard Stuttaford’s personal book collection. When Garden Cities moved out of Pinelands to establish a new Head Office in Edgemead, Pinelands Municipality requested that the museum be loaned to the Municipality. Garden Cities agreed and the Council resolved that it be housed in an upstairs room in the library. When Pinelands ceased to be a Municipality, artifacts such as the mayor’s gown, the mayor’s chain, the gavel, etc were placed in the museum. At some stage the library was repainted resulting in the painter moving and to some extent destroying the exhibitions. Despite calls to the public to assist in re-establishing the museum, there was a marked lack of interest. The library was in need of extra space and despite the resolution of Council, the material was stored in the projector room until removed by the City’s Heritage Department.

The most recent monument is the Southern Floe stone memorial in the Garden of Remembrance. In 1927, the Memorable Order of the Tin Hats (MOTHS) was formed by South African ex-service men who had seen battle. The Pinelands branch, known as shell holes, was formed in 1944 and in honour of the HMSAS Southern Floe, they adopted the name of the ship. The shell hole decided to commemorate the sinking of the Southern Floe by erecting a monument in the Garden of Remembrance which stands on the small mound in the Garden. The first of four South African ships to be lost in WW2 was the Southern Floe during February 1941 with only one survivor from a crew of 26. The ship was a whaler converted to a minesweeper as part of the anti-submarine flotilla.  It had been based in Alexandria for about a month and was patrolling the Mediterranean near Tobruk when it struck a mine. The sole survivor, Stoker Jones had just joined the ship. He struggled out through a skylight and spent 14 hours in the water before being rescued. The only remnant from the HMSAS Southern Floe is a small brass badge found among debris 70 miles from Benghazi.

The Pinelands Zoning scheme gave some protection to the unique heritage of Pinelands. However in the early 1990s it became apparent that the Pinelands Municipality would be incorporated with other municipalities. Pinelands adopted a new updated Zoning Scheme and a study of properties that could be subdivided to protect the uniqueness of Pinelands. This was carried out by a Pinelands resident, Geoff Underwood. After the incorporation took place in 1996 It soon became apparent that the Pinelands Zoning Scheme, was not sufficient to protect the heritage aspect of Pinelands. In 1998, the Ward Councillor, Brian Watkyns, submitted a request for Pinelands to become an Urban Conservation area. The process stalled when further municipalities were incorporated into the Cape Town Metropolitan area in 2000. In 2005 a progress report revealed that a new zoning scheme was to be implemented for the entire Metropolitan area and the original Pinelands area would be given a Heritage Protection Overlay Zone status. A Heritage specialist was contracted to grade all buildings in the area. In 2015 the new Zoning Scheme came into effect and the original area of Pinelands was declared a Heritage Protected Area. Unfortunately, an error crept in when gazetting the Scheme and certain roads were omitted. This was in the process of being rectified when it was stopped. In 2018 Politicsweb reported that in 2015 “A resident of Pinelands, who is also a former politician, objected to the land use of Pinelands, copying De Lille in the objection. De Lille said the heritage work couldn’t proceed.” The report further indicated that “De Lille said at a meeting with city officials, SAHRA and councillors on August 22, 2013, to discuss the heritage issues of Langa: “The heritage of Langa is rubbish. Langa is designated by the same person who designated Pinelands. I live in Pinelands and that’s also rubbish”.

To assist with building plans in the heritage area, the Pinelands Ratepayers and Residents Association formed the Pinelands Heritage Advisory Committee with professionals serving on the committee.