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Dear Member,

In preparation for the Annual General Meeting which is being held at Northwards on Saturday, 19th July, 2014, attached is the Chairperson’s Report

Chairman's Report July 2014



Johannesburg Heritage Foundation Constitution

Please click on the link to open the document - Documentation


Parktown & Westcliff Heritage Trust

AGM Minutes



This is a turning point for the Trust and if members feel I am wrong they must take the appropriate action. Together with the Board of Management I am proposing that we take on the role we have been playing for many years now and change our name to Johannesburg Heritage Foundation.

There is a hugely sentimental attachment to our name. Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust came into existence at a time when Parktown houses were still being bulldozed for the new office park. Already we had lost 55 for the College of Education, 30 for the Pieter Roos Park and road widening, 17 for the M1 freeway and 12 for the Johannesburg (now Charlotte Mxeke) Hospital including the very first Hosue built in Parktown, Hohenheim.  We lost still more as the office rezonings increased. There were 4 along Boundary Road, 1 in Ridge Road, 5 along St Andrew’s Road and even once the Trust had been established we lost another 8 along Empire Road Extension.

But to a large extent we have won that battle. We have the Parktown Ridge Heritage Area protecting the ridge of Rockridge Road above and The Valley Road below. There are sixteen Provincial Heritage Sites (formerly National Monuments) and we have placed blue Heritage Plaques on many more. The conservation and protection of Parktown’s buildings and ridge environment is the primary aim of the Regional Spatial Development Framework for this area.

Westcliff hasn’t endured the same commercial pressures, and the attitude of the owners is overwhelmingly in favour of conserving the heritage – both built and natural – which reduces the need for fighting except really on the small Gordon Leith House on Jan Smuts Avenue and the unauthorized new building on Glenshiel.

Now I believe we must recognize that for the last 18 years we have taken our tours well beyond the confines of Parktown and Westcliff. In 1996 we ran tours of The Old Fort and Number 4 which today is Constitution Hill. Our tours cover, the city centre, Hillbrow and Berea, Yeoville, Bellevue and Highlands, Mountain View and Observatory, Upper Houghton, Kensington and Belgravia, Jeppestown, Newtown, Fietas and Vrededorp, Sophiatown, Eagles Nest, Turffontein, La Rochelle, Troyeville, Parkview, Emmarentia, Braamfontein and Brixton cemeteries. We have taken tours to parts of  Soweto and to Alexandra.

In this last year we have completed the restoration of the exterior of St Alban’s Church in Ferreirasdorp; we have applied successfully for the declaration of Beacon Royal in Yeoville, Mike’s Kitchen in Parktown, and researched and supported many others.

We are fighting to have the Rissik Street Post Office restored. We are part of the team fighting for the PWD to take action on the Marshall Street Police Barracks and we are fighting even more desperately to save Crown Mines Primary School from demolition by I-Prop.
Using the title PWHT is really only helpful with people who already know who we are. Officials can be forgiven for being mystified when told that the PWHT has applied for the declaration of Crown Mines Primary School. We know what the name stands for in terms of upholding conservation principles and the right to preserve Jo’burg’s heritage, but lots of people still regard Parktown and Westcliff as elitist areas with an unsavoury Colonialist past. Just look at the Street names!

We bring to the table 27 years of experience in fighting for our heritage. We have a loyal body of members who know that membership is not just a discount for tour costs, but a commitment to supporting the cause of Jo’burg’s heritage. We have dedicated tour leaders who love what they do, love exploring further and really enjoy showing off yet another aspect of the City’s exciting heritage. You have to be a bit of an adrenalin junkie to go some of the places we choose in the older parts of the city, but go there we must because the building and the history are so important.

We take learners from primary schools and given them a chance to move back 100 years in time. They wear pinafores or sailor-suit tops, write with dip pens and are told not to smile – education is a serious business. They marvel at the beauty and size of Northwards. We must go further and take them to the Public Library and the Gauteng Legislature.

We have an efficient administration, our own Research Centre and we publish the Johannesburg Heritage Journal.

I believe we have been masquerading long enough as a small local suburban group. We still need to protect Parktown and Westcliff, but they are very much part of Johannesburg so there will be no conflict there. 

On my annual report back I will have to be very brief. We have dropped very considerably in membership which requires investigation. We have held ……. meetings of our Board of Management. E-mail has certainly reduced the need for extraordinary or special meetings. Eira calls it the B.O.M. and this is certainly the most explosive part of the organization where young members have had a great impact, forcing the older ones to use modern technology and asking us to put our information on the world wide web as a priority.

Our 18 tour leaders have proved well-informed, entertaining and popular. Certainly the 1 522 people who came on tours during the year help to make this organization viable. David Forrest keeps us in the black with his out of town tours which pack in lots of heritage sites in a fun and friendly atmosphere.

Our Heritage Teaching assistants have taken 12 school tours involving 635 learners.
There was a small break while the new organ was installed at St George’s, but the new activities room for our schools programme at Holy Family College just needs the carpet straightened, the pictures hung and the new heating panels installed.

The Research Centre has been most productive and a great tidying is in process. All the paper plans and drawings have been folded and attached to their files. We inherited some fine General Plans for various townships from the City’s collection – they were being thrown out – and a full set of Johannesburg Council Minutes from 1901 -1969 from the Local Government Library. Our research team is happy, noisy and excellent.

New plans cabinets have been installed in the Fleming Room at Northwards and Michael Fleming is working hard sorting all the drawings and old correspondence. These range from the Baker and Fleming period through F.L.H. Fleming to his son Leonard Fleming and his partnership with Bernard Cooke, then grandson Michael  joined the practice. So the collection covers three generations and includes some fine elevations and plans done by Bernard Cooke which we have had framed. We are most grateful to Neil Viljoen and the Northwards Trust for allowing us the space in which to house these treasures at Northwards.       

Special thanks go to Ray and Sarah Welham for the computer they have donated for the Research Centre. Our old one decided it didn’t care for flash drives or disks. We have two photocopiers in the Research Centre. One very old machine which can handle A3 when we need those and a small new one which has a number of functions we haven’t quite mastered. Sarah and Mary have tidied the costume collection. We bought a lovely bookcase from the Gauteng Institute of Architects when they left the Holy Family College – 4 long planks from a single tree.

To our sponsors who have supported us again this last year both in funds and in kind I want to extend our thanks on behalf of all our members. Our auditors, PKF, who keep us absolutely squeaky clean and tidy,  Billiton, the Northwards Trust, Holy Family College, Hollard, Sunnyside Park Hotel,  Emoyeni Conference Centre on whose help we rely throughout the year. To Jane Paumgarten and the Mackenzie Foundation as well as Mary and Nicky Oppenheimer  who have supported our project to restore St Alban’s church in Ferreirasdorp  - great thanks are due. Angela Dick and Transman rival BOE’s Cotton Memorial Trust as our longest standing sponsors are friends and supporters we hope we’ll take with us under our new banner.

Most of all I want to thank Eira Bond, Silas Raseala, our trustees and all the members of the Board and the tour leaders who have supported the PWHT for many, many years.  I hope you will carry over this dedication to the new Johannesburg Heritage Foundation.


Flo Bird




Last Edit : 01/09/2014







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