Below is a short write-up on the architectural style of our house

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Forgotten fountain returns to the limelight

The fountain neglected in the bush (Cullinan Heritage Society)
A fountain built by Italian POWs who were interred at the nearby Zonderwater POW camp around 1943 has been moved from its original position to a new site in the garden of the McHardy House Museum in Cullinan.

The fountain being secured (Cullinan Heritage Society)
The fountain was built in an area called Hallsdorp. The miners houses built in this area in the early part of the last century were demolished at the end of the Second World War. The area became derelict and the fountain was quickly forgotten.

Many decades later the Cullinan Heritage Society located the fountain and later applied for permission to move it to an area where it could be appreciated by the many visitors to the village. Volunteers of the Heritage Society worked to secure the fountain to prevent any breakage of the stone structure.
The fountain being secured (Cullinan Heritage Society)

The Petra Mine supplied the essential crane and transport to move the fountain. The operation progressed smoothly with no damage to 75 year old structure.

Crane lowering the fountain into position (Cullinan Heritage Society)
The Cullinan Heritage Society aims to restore the fountain to its original glory as soon as the necessary funds can be raised. The story of the fountain demonstrates what can be achieved when local enthusiasts, heritage officials and generous businesses work together for the common good.
The fountain's new home in front of the McHardy House Museum
 (Cullinan Heritage Society)

Reproduced from: The Heritage Portal

Article Author: John Lincoln

Monday, 27 March 2017

The Early History of Irene Farm

Article Author: South African Panorama

Irene is a wonderful village located less than twenty kilometres south of Pretoria. Visitors can feel the history around them whether staying at a local hotel, visiting the Smuts House Museum or touring the working farm. Residents are proud of the area's rich history and rightly so! Below are a few edited passages revealing the early history of Irene Farm. A longer version of the article appeared in a 1961 edition of South African Panorama.

A recent photo of one of the historic farm buildings (The Heritage Portal)

John Albert van der Byl was a man of foresight. Coming to Pretoria in the 1890s at the suggestion of Percy Fitzpatrick, writer, politician and adventurer, he bought with him from his previous home in the Bredasdorp district of the Cape Province a shrewd planning instinct and a love of gardens. Settling down some ten miles south-east of Pretoria, John van der Byl established himself, his wife and his young son Henry on a farm bought from a famous figure at that time, Nellmapius. But it was a farm in name only. Nellmapius, an adventurer, transport rider and financier whose name is linked with many stirring ventures in the early days of the Transvaal, had built himself a house there and surrounded it with some avenues of Casaurina trees.
The main residence (South African Panorama)

For Nellmapius the farm was merely an investment, a part of one of the several fortunes which he made during his lifetime. He named the farm after his daughter Irene, and lived in the house for a while. Then he sold to John van der Byl. The latter took the garden and expanded it; he studied the 11000-acre farm and developed it. He spanned it with a network of irrigation furrows. He farmed crops, cattle and ostriches. Finding little market for his vegetables and milk he decided to create one. He cut up one section of the farm into plots, establishing the village of Irene. Soon the farm had a growing settlement; there was a market for its produce; and John van der Byl had become the local squire.
Riding on Irene Farm (South African Panorama)
John and son Henry farmed in partnership during the 1920s, the period which saw the end of the ostriches and the accent being placed on making Irene Estates a dairy farm. Eventually John handed over the farm to Henry, who continued its development and expansion. Under the care of Henry's wife the garden prospered, the avenues were extended, the trees grew into giants. The first Mrs van der Byl had landscaped the acres around the house into an old-world garden; Henry's wife added fountains, arbours and greenhouses, carpeted the shade with violets - which used to be sold in the village together with the farm's vegetables and dairy products. Nellmapius's house was enlarged, rivalling Pretoria's most gracious homes.

A remarkable avenue of trees (South African Panorama)
This was a period of elegance: transportation was by Cape cart - light two-horse carriages - and the main road to Pretoria crossed the Van der Byl farm, becoming the main avenue where it passed the door of the residence. But this was no inconvenience, for cars were almost unheard of, and scarcely two carriages passed during a day. The peace of the garden remained undisturbed. Its hydrangeas, wisteria and irises set the theme of quiet beauty.
Smuts House next door to Irene Estates
(The Heritage Portal)
Distinguished visitors came to the farm. Among these a neighbour, General Smuts, called in frequently. Smuts used to seek mental relaxation in long walks through the veld. Doornkloof - his farm - sliced into Irene Estates like a wedge. Often he would begin his walk by calling in on the Van der Byls and wandering for a while with them enjoying nature's beauty in the garden. Then he would be off at the cracking pace which he knew would leave his official bodyguards straggling miles behind. For him the veld was something to be enjoyed alone.

The Van der Byls are still deeply involved in Irene and have opened up a number of spaces for the public to visit. Click here for all the details.

Below are some more photos of the Irene Farm

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Another revamp for Pretoria's Church Square

Pretoria's historic Church Square is set for a major revamp and will receive its second make-over in three years. Landscaping and renovation work officially began yesterday and is set to give the city centre a whole new and improved look.

Church Square as it looks like at the moment.
The overhaul of the square is scheduled to take up to nine months and will include changing the look and feel of the popular park.

There will be new trees, with the lawns landscaped, and the street furniture will be redesigned.

City of Tshwane spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said the revamp would result in road closures and affect both motorists and pedestrians. It would also result in the removal of parking bays in some parts of the square.

"This redesigning will contribute to the cleanliness and rejuvenation of the city centre," he said.

Mashigo said the city had put up road signage informing people of the roadworks under way.

"Entry into Church Square and the adjacent Bank/Mutual Street, as well as Parliament/Palace Street, will be closed off for all vehicular traffic as of mid-October," he said.

Parking after the square's restoration would be limited to the staff of businesses within the area.

"Motorists are to note that all parking bays on Church Square will be removed and drivers are advised to make use of parking decks that are to remain around the square.
"A limited number of parking bays will remain on the peripheral area of the square on Mutual and Parliament streets," he said.

The spokesperson said upon completion of the facelift, a section of Paul Kruger Street around the inner perimeter of the square would no longer be accessible to motorists.
This road, he said, would be designated for use by A Re Yeng buses and emergency vehicles. "This will be done to allow pedestrians the pleasure of using the broad walkways."
Mashigo said the city wanted to thank the public in advance for co-operation during the construction period and hoped the reconstruction project would be completed within the set timelines.

The square is the centre of activity in the city, and hosts tourists, students and passers-by on the lawns and benches everyday. The City of Tshwane holds its New Year's bash at the venue.

Informal traders also ply their trade in the centre of the city, with florists, photographers, fruit and snack vendors camping there every day.

The availability of free wi-fi has become a major attraction to the site and people enjoy relaxing on the square so that can make use of it.

The square was established in 1855 and has undergone a lot of transformation since.
It's been a home for street performers, a testing ground for artists, a venue for impromptu sermons and a starting point for protests. It also turned into a popular meeting spot. Once the city's market place, it used to draw people from all corners of Pretoria to shop.

The square's most prominent feature is the statue of the late Boer leader and president of the then-South African Republic, Paul Kruger, which sits at its centre and is surrounded by statues of four anonymous Boer soldiers.

The Old Capitol Theatre, Tudor Chambers, Ou Raadsaal (Old Council Chamber) and the Palace of Justice where the famous Rivonia trial took place are just some of the historical buildings situated around the square.

Recent additions to the square included the A Re Yeng bus service lanes in 2014.
Construction workers unearthed tram lines believed to be 105 years old during the initial phase of the beautification process in 2014.

Pretoria adopted trams as its main mode of public transport in 1910 and they lasted until the advent of more modern modes.

The construction of the new bus system forms part of the route that will connect the inner city with Rainbow Junction (Wonderboom Station) in the north of the capital, through Paul Kruger Street and Mansfield Avenue.

The first phase of the project consisted of Line 1 which will connect with Mabopane, Soshanguve and the inner city via the R80 and Es'kia Mphahlele Drive.

Phase 1 consists of 68km of dedicated median bus lanes, 52 stations, three depots and four terminuses.

Motorists are advised to use the following alternative routes:

  • From the north going south: turn left on to Boom Street, then turn right into Thabo Sehume Street and again right on to Pretorius Street to access Paul Kruger Street.

  • From the south going north: turn left from Paul Kruger Street into Pretorius Street, then right into Bosman Street and continue all the way to Boom Street. There, turn right into Boom Street, from where drivers can turn left into Paul Kruger Street to exit the inner city.

Source: Pretoria News Jan 24, 2017