THE GARDEN CITY OF PINELANDS, SOUTH AFRICA
The development of Pinelands has a
unique role in the history of South Africa as it was the first town-planned area
to be established in the country.
The idea of a new form of city
based on economic and scientific principles was postulated by Ebenezer Howard
in his book Garden Cities of Tomorrow, published in 1898. The concept, outlined
in this book was that an estate could be bought and held in trust, first as security
for debenture holders and second, in trust for people of the garden city. He conceived
the idea of a planned town with public buildings and a park being built in the
centre. Around the park would be situated a great arcade containing shops and
other commercial activities. Houses and work areas would be surrounded by
gardens and standards of architecture were to be established in order to maintain
the beauty of the original site. The shops and factories whilst accessible to
workers would be built where they would not spoil the landscape. This concept
was a far cry from the sub-human level of housing which had resulted from the
Industrial Revolution. Ebenezer Howard's intention was that the community would
retain for its own benefit portion of
the income derived from commercial
sites and by this means be able to establish sites for recreation and leisure
pursuits. His ideas led to the formation of the Garden Cities Association and
the subsequent establishment of Letchworth and Welwyn, England, the world's first
Immediately after the First World War, conditions
in the urban areas of South Africa were deteriorating rapidly. The diamond and
gold rush had brought many people to towns, the Great War had caused sharp rent
increases and the influenza epidemic carried off thousands of people in the Cape
Peninsula alone. Richard Stuttaford, a well-known merchant and city councilor
of Cape Town, was convinced that better housing and living conditions were necessary
to meet these problems and, on meeting Ebenezer Howard, was greatly impressed
with the latter's ideas and schemes. As a result, in 1919, he persuaded the South
African Government to grant the Trustees of the newly formed Garden Cities Trust
365 morgen of the Uitvlugt Forest Reserve for the purpose of establishing a garden
city. He donated the then considerable sum of £10,000 to the Trust in order
that it could pursue its objective "of providing better housing and social
conditions for the people, the latter purpose to be construed in its widest sense".
In the 1880s, what is now Pinelands was all sandy waste, sporadically
covered with wattle. Chief Langalibalele, a tribal Chief of the Hlubi of the Utrecht
district and leaders of the Langalibalele Rebellion, was sent to the Cape where
he was imprisoned on 4 August 1874. From the 27 August 1875, he was held on the
farm Uitvlugt (transl. The Escape) on the Cape Flats. The land adjoining
Uitvlugt was Oude Molen (transl. Old Mill) and was originally granted
to one of the Free Burghers during the time of Jan van Riebeeck. When the Zulu
War came to an end Cetewayo, King Panda's son, was captured and brought to Oude
Molen as a prisoner of the Colonial Government. The farm Uitvlugt was later earmarked
as a Forest Reserve by the Cape Colonial Government and tens of thousands of pine
trees were planted to control the drifting sands from the Cape Flats, the isthmus
between the main body of land and the peninsula proper. Langalibalele was sent
back to Natal in 1887 and the original farmstead, situated in the area of the
present Homestead Way, was occupied by the Forestry Officer.
homestead was a spacious Dutch-styled house with walls of mud and stone which,
during the early 1920's, had to be reinforced with concrete supports. Sadly, it
was demolished in 1947.
In the early 1890's a rich clay pit was
discovered in Uitvlugt and a brick-making business was set up on the site which
is today the corner of Forest Drive and Alice's Ride (the latter so named because
Princess Alice, wife of the Earl of Athlone who was
Governor General of
South Africa, often rode on horseback in the area). A shack was erected to provide
living quarters and an office for the brick-makers. Excluding the farm homestead,
this shack, subsequently occupied by the Estate Manager, Mr. Logan, was Pinelands'
oldest building. It was demolished in 1955.
During the Anglo-Boer
War (1898-1902), Uitvlugt was used as a remount camp by the British Army who used
not only horses and mules, but also camels for certain purposes. The camels were
later trained for postal duties in the Kalahari Desert by the South African Postal
Service. During later property developments in Pinelands bones 2 identified as
those of camels as well as hundreds of horseshoes and tent pegs were to be unearthed.
At some stage, a Police Training Depot was established on the site of the present
Oval cricket field.
|Foundation Stone of Pinelands|
1900, on the northern border of Pinelands and adjacent to the industrial area,
N'dabeni, there were built a number of wood and iron hostel huts first used by
the Cape Government to accommodate bubonic plague patients and later occupied
by elderly people. The deaths of British Army nursing sisters here were recorded
in a poem of Rudyard Kipling's "They Who Died at Uitvlugt". The elderly
were subsequently housed at the Conradie Hospital, the which was founded in 1938.
Once the site for Pinelands had been determined and the Trust Deed drawn
up it was necessary to commence the design and layout of the Garden City and a
competition, open to local architects, was held. Although the first prize was
awarded to John Perry the designs for the layout and various types of houses were
rejected after being referred to Sir Raymond Unwin, the planner of the first Garden
City of Letchworth. The architectural firm who had planned the development of
Welwyn were then appointed to develop the Uitvlugt housing project and Mr. A.
J. Thompson, the first Supervising
Architect of Pinelands, was sent out
from England for this purpose under a two year contract. The layout plan for Pinelands
followed Howard's broad principles and allowed for plenty of open space. Strict
building lines were adhered to and as Thompson foresaw that Pinelands would need
more than one railway station, attention was paid to the siteing of these with
major roads being planned to lead to them. A small civic centre was located in
the heart of the township. At the beginning of 1921, the layout of the first section
of Pinelands was completed and in August 1921 the Trustees applied for a Government
Housing Loan of £200,000 to cover the costs of the first group of houses.
However, the Administrator of the Cape, Sir Frederick de Waal, had little faith
in Pinelands and would not sponsor the loans for properties to be built in the
area. Once again Richard Stuttaford, in addition to his initial £10,000
grant, had to deposit with the Administrator his own personal security for each
J.W.P. (William) Logan was appointed the first Estate
Manager of Pinelands on 23 July 1922 with a salary of £35 per month and
free use of the house he occupied on the estate. The name "Pinelands"
was suggested by the first Secretary of Garden Cities Trust, Percy Stuart Horne,
in preference to the name "Midwood". As the township plan aimed to preserve
the pines wherever possible the name appeared apt and was adopted on 11 August
"A Piano Comes to Pinelands" was a picturesque headline
to a story published by the Cape Argus on 11 February 1922. The sub-headlines
read "First house now occupied - others rapidly nearing completion".
The pianist was Gurth Cox, an architect, who moved into the first house, No. 3
|No.3 Meadway to-day|
house had been completed in mid January 1922 and was roofed with thatch which
was then the only roofing material permitted in Pinelands. At the end of February
1922, Dr/Mrs Edith Gertrude Pycroft (later John Perrys mother-in-law and
herself a figure of stature in South Africas medical history) occupied "Runnymede"
at the north corner of The Mead and then A. J. Thompson took his family to live
in what is now "Hampstead" on the corner of Meadway and Forest Drive.
In Forest Drive between Meadway and the Raapenberg Bridge more cottages were built
and by February 1922 there were three roads, a main avenue for heavy traffic (Forest
Drive), a second for cyclists and lighter vehicles (Central Avenue) and a third
for pedestrians. Care was taken to preserve the trees and each road was a long,
natural avenue. Each of the newly built houses was different with no uniformity
of type or price and they were designed to combine an attractive appearance with
comfort and low cost.
By the end of 1922 there were 24 houses occupied
and the population of Pinelands totaled 60. By this time the sum of only £15,000
from the Government Housing Fund had been invested. Electricity was installed
in late 1922 to early 1923 and by 1924 there were 10 street lights in operation.
On May 25, 1923, four years after the project had been started, General
J. C. Smuts laid the foundation stone in Central Square "to commemorate the
founding of Pinelands", the first Garden City to be established under the
Trust formed by the Union Government and Richard Stuttaford of Cape Town. Richard
Stuttaford presided over the ceremony and mentioned that 34 houses had been completed,
49 were in the course of construction, and the total value of properties erected
by June 1923 would exceed £100,000. In 1927, the Garden Cities Trust was
incorporated as a not-for-profit section 21 company Garden Cities.
The Pinelands Development Company was established in 1930 to oversea the development
of the area.
In April 1932, erf. No.509 at 15 Uitvlugt, Pinelands,
was surveyed and, in July 1936 for a deposit of £175 against a purchase
price of £875, Emily Mary Scotton (later Pelteret) purchased the
property. She was to remain owner of the property until her death in January 1994;
whereafter it passed via her daughter-in-law into the Pelteret Trust.
By that time, Pinelands had grown into a town of over 20,000 inhabitants. The
area of the Garden City was 567 hectares with additional land having been acquired
by the trustees, Garden Cities, in 1942. There were over 3,000 houses and 750
flat units and Howard Centre, together with Central Square one of the two shopping
complexes, had developed into a thriving commercial area of shops and offices.
Until recently, perhaps the most significant feature of the development
of Pinelands has been the establishment of a wide range of community facilities
and activities. The Garden City built a number churches of different denominations,
nursery, primary and secondary schools, homes for the aged, various sports clubs
and a large number of social and cultural societies. Community spirit was always
a hall-mark of its society; a society that looked out for each other
and was charity orientated. Everyone knew everyone else; and many families either
returned to Pinelands having temporarily 4 drifted away or have lived
for several generations within its amiable environment.
a strong bias against liquor in the community and as such Pinelands
is one of two dry suburbs in Cape Town (probably South Africa). It
was these aspects of the development of Pinelands which, together with the attractive
physical layout, played a major role in making the Garden City a tranquil, sought
after place in which to live; bring up children or grow old.
|Views of The Mead : The Edwardian Pillar Post-box
moved in the 1980s from outside the original Post-office (to-day a chapel)
to its present site, seen together with the National Monument Stone laid in 1983|
To many inhabitants, its wealth of history and the
beauty of the early areas established in Pinelands made it important for Pinelands
to preserve its heritage not only as the first Garden City laid out in South Africa
and as such the forerunner of town planning in the country, as a tribute to a
wonderful environment with a unique "old-world charm". To this end,
The Mead and Meadway, with their little thatched Cotswold houses,
were proclaimed National Monuments on 22 April 1983, with the intention of their
standing for all time a tribute to those who visualised a garden city in South
Africa and had the financial clout and political courage to carry their conviction
through to fruition.
|Views of Meadway : Original thatched-roofed cottages
with Table Mountain as a back-drop to the west|
order to avoid incorporation into the City of Cape Town, the community of Pinelands
voted to create an independent municipality of the then Pinelands Local Board.
The municipality was promulgated on 5 March 1948 with Mr. William Gardener, the
first mayor. In June 1997, Alderman Ron Strybis presided as last mayor over the
last council meeting. Sadly, with the promulgation of legislation reorganizing
local authorities, the independent Municipality of Pinelands was disbanded at
that meeting, management control being vested in the Cape Town City Council and
later the management of Cape Town Unicity. This change has been accompanied by
a distinct change in character and a widely held perception that the (now) suburb
of Cape Town and its people has lost considerably more than Cape Town ideologically
would ever have gained.
1. Rosenthal, Eric : Pinelands
- South Africas First Garden City. 1949
2. Cuthbertson, G.C.:"A New
Town at Uitvlugt The formation and development of Pinelands". Unpublished
3. Fifty Years of Housing : The story of Garden Cities. Private
Publication. Garden Cities Corp. 1972
4. The Pinelands Garden City Monthly