After a hectic first half of 2017, we are catching our breath and can update you on progress in pursuit of several projects and objectives, along with planning of meetings and outings. Our committee has been very active in diverse areas, summaries of which follow below – this is a l-o-n-g newsletter, so please bear with us as there are several important pieces of news to digest.
Our membership has increased considerably this year which is great, although there is always room for more. Our treasurer Pam Verrall has asked me to remind longstanding members that subscriptions for the 2017-18 year are now due and remain at R30 a head. This figure is likely to increase to R50 at the AGM in August.
ASSOCIATE MEMBERSHIP OF HASA
The Society has been registered as a NPO, or non-profit organisation, for some years now, which allows us to raise funds, among other benefits. We are also a member of Heritage Western Cape, and have recently become an Associate Member of HASA, the Heritage Association of South Africa, an umbrella organisation which gives us access to another body of expert council, opinion and support for and on all heritage issues that we face in McGregor.
Three committee members are actively involved with the Society’s museum housed in the Tourism office . Paul Trim is investigating the status and existence of the agreement we have with Tourism and/or the municipality, in order to secure future safety of tenancy .
Meanwhile, Heidi Muller and John Barrow are busy with upgrading and renovation in the museum that involve new signage, repairs, allocation of storage, decor and more. Their efforts will make the museum more visible and attractive to visitors, whether casual or those looking for specific information.
We are pleased to report that member Pat Warren has completed her interview with community resident Dorrie Lekay, who shared many memories of village life. She is arranging for Pat to have chats with a senior trio of ex-teachers with many a tale to tell. So our treasury of oral histories is now growing again to join others as irreplaceable items in our museum.
POOR STATE OF MCGREGOR’S ICONIC GABLED BUILDING
Alarm bells are ringing about the condition of the council-owned heritage building that houses Tourism and our museum (in the flat-roofed part) and the empty gabled half that adjoins it: The Heritage Society recently sent a strongly-worded email about the substantial deterioration of – in particular -, the section that has been standing empty since the municipal office moved into its new building further down Voortrekker Street. This happened seven years ago in 2010. Since then Langeberg municipality has totally neglected this historic former town house, which possesses the only example of a McGregor gable left in the village and is now in desperate need of TLC on a professional scale. Large cracks run from pavement to gable height, chunks of plaster have fallen off at floor level, walls are bulging at the rear of the building where evidence of poor plumbing is worsening the situation. We have asked Cllr Wilma Strauss t o help us get an answer from the municipality which has failed, year on year, to take decisions on the future use of the building, and is failing completely to maintain it. We will keep you updated when we get a response. We are hoping that this will not become a case that requires pressure from heritage bodies to get action. The pile of rubble that once constituted Robertson’s beautiful historic museum offers tangible proof of continued neglect.
KRANS NATURE RESERVE
The future status and protection of the Krans Nature Reserves continues to involve the Society, which created it 22 years ago.
A meeting was held in the local municipal hall recently addressed by Dr Colin Johnson, chairman of the board of CapeNature and former Head of Botany at UWC, and attended by representatives of the Langeberg municipality, Vrolijkheid, our ward councillor, interested parties and ourselves. Dr Johnson outlined his proposal to the municipality that an area involving the 50ha of the Krans, plus a section of the significant conservation-worthy floodplain below be declared as protected areas by the municipality, a suggestion approved by Corné Claassens, CapeNature Conservation Manager who works from the Vrolijkheid office and ourselves.
Both Dr Johnson and the Heritage society have asked Langeberg for the outcome of the mayoral meeting which took place, addressed by Dr Johnson, who recommended this action. We received a reply in mid-May which informed us that the report that resulted from this meeting is still being circulated within the municipal departments, to be tabled by their senior management team in early June. Then it heads to their portfolio committee for final decisions. We wait for these with bated breath and will continue to communicate with the municipality until a formal reply is received.
Meanwhile we are perturbed to hear from members living on the Krans boundary that not only mountain bikers but motor bikes have been seen traversing the area that is clearly reserved for walkers. Please help us in helping to prevent this, which is against the regulations posted on our noticeboards at the top of Smith and Church streets. Elderly residents and their dogs, often also elderly, and families with small children should be able to meander the Krans paths in safety, and the indigenous vegetation and wildlife, which includes tortoises, should be able to flourish and live in peace.
We are lucky to have John Barrow, a professional architect, as a committee member who is also our representative on the Aesthetics committee, which holds monthly meetings in the village. John has drafted a letter which includes guidelines to those buying existing properties or about to build new ones in McGregor, which could help avoid proposed plans and alterations which are completely out of touch with the local architectural styles, ambience and village character. We will give local estate agents copies of these, to be shared with new owners. The Aesthetics committee studies building plans before they are submitted to the municipality and has the power to reject or object to those deemed to cause harm to the village image.
Which brings us o to restoration. Society members raised money for restoration of historic homes in the Oudorp some years back and an amount remained in the account, which is now being to used to fix and re-thatch the roof of an original Cape cottage in Loop Street. The job, which is not yet complete, is being overseen by Betty Mitchell-Innes who headed the former restoration sub- committee. She would like to record her thanks to Johan van Zyl of van Reenen street who has donated a large bundle of new thatching reeds to the project, which can now continue when a new thatcher is appointed.
We will also have a photographic record of this work from start to finish, thanks to Ewan van Wyk, which will be housed in the museum.
WREATHING HOMES IN RAZOR WIRE
The Society has been in touch with both the municipality and the owners of the house in Voortrekker street that is wreathed in three-metre high razor wire. As yet we have failed to convince the owners to remove it and replace it with something more in keeping with a pretty Edwardian house in an historic Cape village. The municipality seems to lack the power to prevent owners from putting up such unsightly and dangerous deterrents, but we are continuing with efforts to investigate existing by-laws and those covering historic structures. We are very grateful for the professional work undertaken by heritage architect Louise van Riet who we can consult when required. Although she lives in Newlands, she spends many weekends in her house in and is always ready to advise and help, at no cost to us.
WEBSITE UPDATE AND LINKS WITH TOURISM
The Heritage Society is aiming to be digitally accessible and up-to-date with accurate online information that can also be accessed through links from the McGregor tourism website. Committee member Ewan van Wyk is working on this and we will inform members when it’s completed, probably in September.
MEETS AND OUTINGS
We have had two successful events this year so far : First up was a fascinating talk by Dr Janette Deacon on San sites, rock art and beliefs, followed more recently with a travel talk on Marilyn and Keith Poole’s river cruise through parts of Cambodia. We are now planning a trip to the Karoo garden outside Worcester in August, and will soon confirm a date for our AGM, probably also in August, more information to follow.
DIARISE THIS DATE
Spring comes early to this part of the world, and August is a good month to visit the renowned Karoo Desert National Botanical garden at the foot of the Hex River mountains outside Worcester. Committee member Heidi Muller has organised with curator Werner Voigt for a guide to take members around the gardens. We have tentatively settled on Thursday August 17th for this Heritage Society outing, and hope also to include an optional stop at the Nuy-on-the-Hill restaurant on the way back, with wine-tasting and a light meal . More details later, when Heidi will send out invitations and those who can offer shared lifts can be contacted.
If any member knows of another who is not in email contact and needs a hard copy of this newsletter, please let me, Myrna Robins, know.
Comments, suggestion and questions can all be emailed to the relevant committee member: Here are our contact details.
|Last name||First name||email address||Post||Tel||Cell||Street address|
|Barrow||Johnfirstname.lastname@example.org||049||0823424395||16 Plein Street|
|Muller||Heidiemail@example.com||Box 303||0826366376||107 Voortrekker|
|Robins||Myrnafirstname.lastname@example.org||Box 177 Robertson||044||0837024381||Smith|
|Shand||Helaineemail@example.com||Box 396||298||21 Tindall|
|van Wyk||Ewanfirstname.lastname@example.org||Box 446||516||0731982969||20 Tindall Street|
|Verrall||Pamelaemail@example.com||Box 102||976||van Reenen Street|
|mhs newsletter June17|