Elegant Places

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Rondebosch - an Architectural Gem


In 1949, a thirteen-year old schoolboy was so impressed with the new home that he and his family had moved into in Rondebosch, that he painted a watercolour of the building, a thatched cottage on the old Rouwkoop Estate.
 
It is probably the only pictorial record of the old residence, demolished over fifty years ago. Though the young artist's effort lacks basic watercolour technique, Desmond Martin had begun what was to become for him a lifelong hobby - recording architectural gems in pictures.
The full tale of his enchantment with Rondebosch, with its old facades, places and spaces, is captivating. He weaves his nostalgic anecdotes of his schooldays in the suburb into the architecture and history of these subjects in his new work. This lavishly illustrated coffee-table book not only tells his story but also gives the reader an insight into the social history of the 1950s.
Of the forty buildings and places covered in the new book, seven feature aspects of the Rondebosch Boys' Schools. 

Desmond has dedicated his latest book to the memory of all his teachers here, who gave so unstintingly of their knowledge, wisdom and experience to their young learners - about to step out into the world sixty years ago.

Among the large group of teachers the author remembers in particular the six who coached him in Class E1: Arthur Jayes, Stan Edkins, E V 'Budgie' Franz, E V 'Buck' Ryan, Steyn Krige and H H 'Herbie' Helm.


About the Author

Cape Town-born Desmond Martin opted for a career in graphic art and advertising after a year of architectural studies. With a Fine Arts degree he was appointed Assistant Director of the National Monuments Council, Cape Town. 

Involvement with heritage and conservation of the built environment spurred him on to investigate the church building boom in Cape Town between 1889 and 1910.
This research earned him an MPhil in 1993, while his PhD in 2002 documented the history and architecture of the fifty churches planted by Bishop Robert Gray and his wife, Sophy Gray, during the years 1848 to1872.
He has written and illustrated The Bishop's Churches (2005), and Walking Long Street, Cape Town (2007), both published by Struik. 
Source: Vernacular Society of South Africa (VASSA)
His beautiful book 'Rondebosch - as I knew' it is available here.