Pleasures of history – David Hilton-Barber

Talk delivered to the Society on 19 March 2016 in Cape Town.

History (from Greek historia, meaning “inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation”) is the study of the past, specifically how it relates to humans.  Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who has been called “The Father of History” and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy, and arrange them in a well-constructed and vivid narrative. Continue reading

Zonderwater – Peter Spargo

One of our most distinguished members has written a fascinating article first published on the Heritage Portal and which is referred to here with his permission and that of the Heritage Portal as well.  It is well worth reading the complete article.  Zonderwater – Almost certainly the largest Allied POW camp in the world – Peter Spargo

“The Spargo’s are an ancient and, according to the available historical record anyway, honourable Cornish family. However, they have been more notable for their commitment to the arts of peace than those of war and it therefore came as a surprise to me to discover many years later that as a young man my father had served as a volunteer in No. 2 Company, South African Medical Corps. This unit formed part of the Active Citizen Force (ACF), a form of volunteer peacetime army established by the South African Defence Act of 1912. Further enquiries, however, revealed that in those years the family, like numerous others, was so impoverished by the economic problems of the times that the lure of several weeks of free ‘holiday’ per year at Potchefstroom Military Camp as a member of the ACF was a major factor in his enlistment!”


Cape Town: Old Reserve Bank Building

In September last year Cape Town’s South African Reserve Bank building – one of the city’s least known yet most fascinating landmarks – changed hands. It was bought by the Board of Executors, the oldest trust company in South Africa, and although the deed of sale was signed in 1968, transfer was delayed until 1975 when the Reserve Bank’s new foreshore premises were ready.

Situated in the old, conservative heart of Cape Town – between Adderley, Wale and St George’s Streets – this magnificent old building styled on the lines of Florence’s Pitti Palace, has the distinction of occupying the highest municipally rated land in the country.

But it is the building itself and its quaint history, probably never before publicised, that deserve attention. It forms yet another fascinating facet of the mother city, and it is thanks to the beautifully handwritten notes compiled by one of its architects that we know as much about it as we do. In fact the writer, Mr Reg de Smidt ARIBA, who passed his notes on to the Board of Executors, concluded by expressing the hope “that this description will be of interest, since I am under the impression that I am the only man alive who could supply it”.

Extract from an article reproduced on the HeritagePortal as One of Cape Town’s least known yet most fascinating landmarks and which come from the Restorica archives written by M.A.P. Diemont Jr.  ’Thank you to the University of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish. Restorica is the old journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation, today the Heritage Association of South Africa‘.