Detailed TOC
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26

Chapter 18 - Scheme for a Municipality


In keeping with the burgeoning spirit of enterprise that marked the immediate post-War era were the reported ambitions of the City of Cape Town to annex some of its neighbouring communities. It was therefore with relief that the inhabitants of Milnerton learnt that, notwithstanding a petition from some of its inhabitants, the Administrator of the Cape had refused to countenance the incorporation of the Bishopscourt Estate into the Municipality of Cape Town. A similar movement was launched on the northern side of Table Bay and revived at intervals, but, notwithstanding the annexation of the Paarden Island industrial area (belonging originally to the Milnerton Estates), the residential section, further out, retained its independence.

In the preservation of this independence technical difficulties in pro­viding transport undoubtedly played a role, and of these difficulties, the Marine Drive remained in the forefront. "Constructive work", we learn on June 30, 1947, "is proceeding apace within the City area. Detailed discussions are still proceeding with the Divisional Council, affecting a line for the road beyond the City area." Hints were added: "There is reason to hope that this long-discussed subject will be settled and that con­struction work up to the entrance of Milnerton Village will be started within six months. . . Many conferences have been held; but the Divi­sional Council is faced with erosion, due to the change of tides in Table Bay." Much of this trouble, according to the Milnerton Estates, was due to the reclamation of 300 acres for the establishment of what is today known as the Duncan Dock. "Apparently the Local Bodies directly con­cerned are unwilling to face the Government with the fact of its own responsibility for the trouble and to request that the State itself shall meet the extra cost of providing safe roads.'"

Fresh confusion was caused by the news that the Marine Drive from Cape Town to Milnerton would shortly be demoted from a National Road to ordinary main road status. "Two of the three local Authorities concern­ed (the City Council and the Divisional Council) fell into line with the views of the National Road Board," said the Chairman, "notwithstanding honourable agreements spread over the last 10 years. The Milnerton Local Board stood its ground and stoutly fought the issue, but was out-voted. As a result, no National Road will pass through Milnerton." This was not perhaps an unmitigated disaster. "In some ways this may be all to the good, privacy being worth something in these days of mad rush. But it means that the Milnerton Local Board will have to pay 10 per cent on the cost of constructing and maintaining the Main Road. . ."


Although years were to pass without any settlement of this issue, road transport was nonetheless making progress, as shown by the growing obsolescence of the Milnerton Railway. Early in 1948 the S.A.R. itself decided to provide a fleet of six buses to the Ascot Race Course, under a subsidy, from the Milnerton Estates, of £2 l0s per round trip. To put an end to the amusing dispute with the Company as to whether the earnings above this modest amount should or should not accrue to the Department, the Milnerton Estates decided to provide facilities on its own. Ignoring complaints of inefficiency and other faults, the S.A.R. continued however to stand its ground, but, in May 1948, received an enquiry "as to the possible acquisition of the Company's railway line". The auditors, Messrs. E. R. Syfret & Co., prepared a statement covering no less than 50 years, from September 1897 to March 31, 1947, on the basis of which, and after due reference to the 1898 Act of the Cape Colonial Department and the Act of 1930, the price was fixed at £117 464. Shortly after on June 30; 1948, the shareholders gave formal authority "to negotiate and enter into an agreement with the Government of the Union of South Africa and its Department of Railways and Harbours respecting the proposed sale of the Company's railway line. Railway reserve land and relevant buildings to the Government of the Union."

To the surprise and disappointment, however, of the Milnerton Estates, a reply arrived on July 8 from Mr. B. M. Marshall Clark, General Manager of the S.A.R. "After further consideration, it has now been decided that the question of the Administration acquiring this Railway should remain in abeyance for the time being. Negotiations will, as soon as possible, be opened with your Company in connection with the deviation, at the expense of this Administration, of the Milnerton Line to fit in with the new layout of Cape Town. . . and it is hoped that your Company will see its way clear to agree to the deviation of the line in the manner which will be proposed."

Despite this implication that the railway would continue to run, Sir De Villiers Graaff, as Chairman of the Company, had to announce on June 29, 1949 that the Government had given notice to terminate the working agreement entered into in 1904, under which the service had hitherto operated.

Sir de Villiers Graaff

Stations between the Mi1nerton Estate and the Mi1nerton Turf Club now also came into the limelight through the outbreak of a serious fire at Ascot on February 28, 1948, which had destroyed some of the stands overlooking the course. As Chairman of the club and ground landlord, J. W. S. Langerman lodged a complaint with the Company, that "The Club will be put to a very large expense in replacements and im­provements", and that, since the lease was due to expire in 1958, the stewards would "greatly appreciate an extension of, say 10 or 15 years . . ." Sure enough, within a few months a new agreement had been reach­ed, extending the lease of the course to 1973, at a gradually-increasing rent - £2 120 per year from 1958 to 1963; £2 620 per year from 1963 to 1968 and £3 370 a year for the remaining period. Significantly too, in the light of what lay ahead, the Club henceforth became responsible for the pay­ment of rates.

A new 25-year lease was entered into with the Mi1nerton Golf Club in­volving the expenditure of £11 000 on improvements, of which £7 000 was lent by the Company. The encouragement of other branches of sport included that of motor racing at Paarden Island and the lease at Milnerton of a Naval Sports Ground of five acres at a nominal rent.

Overshadowing all however came a piece of news in January 1949, when the Board of the Company were informed, under the heading of: "Proposed Status of Milnerton as a Municipality", that a "change in status in the Local Authority at Milnerton had been raised by the Administrator's Office. The matter is under negotiation between the Milnerton Local Board and that Office."

Such was the excitement in the little community during the ensuing months that in October 1949 a meeting was held of Enrolled Voters and a unanimous decision taken "against an early change of status from that of a Local Board to that of a Municipality". As a result, it was announced that, contrary to previous intention, "the Administrator has agreed to leave the matter in abeyance until early next year".

Eight months later, on June 28, 1950, as Chairman of Milnerton Estates, Sir De Villiers Graaff made it known: "It is now understood that an alteration in the law is proposed, under which complete power would be vested in the Administrator to decide the local Government status of certain areas without consulting the ratepayers concerned or even advertis­ing his intentions."


A striking tribute to the charms of Milnerton was furnished in 1951 when the former Governor-General of South Africa, Major Gideon Brand Van Zyl, took possession of Cotswold House, designed in 1947 in the old Cape Dutch style. Here he spent the next five years, until his death in 1956, and here his widow remained until she too passed away in 1973.


Meanwhile the town's ordinary life continued. On the never-ending subject of the Marine Drive to Blouberg Beach the Divisional Council indicated "the possibility of this road being constructed within the next few years is extremely remote, but the effects of future storms over the whole length will be carefully watched. . ."


The Milnerton Estates next found themselves involved in an unex­pected dispute with the Post Office, through taking the initiative in selec­ting the name Heatherton for its proposed Paarden Island Extension No. 1. Mr. L. C. Burke, Postmaster-General, pointed out that "as an existing overseas place-name, this is contrary to the principles enunciated by the Place Names Commission".


Arguments also arose with the Cape Town City Council which, though it had undertaken to supply water to the Milnerton Turf Club, seemed unwilling to meet the needs of Milnerton residents. Then too there were disputes between the Company and the Milnerton Local Board, represented by its Chairman, A. H. L. Burmeister, concerning the ownership of land required by the latter for administrative purposes.


Steadily the community was meanwhile developing into a coherent whole. On June 29, 1951 "A Civic Association has been formed for the residential area of Milnerton. There is a marked increase of interest among residents in all local Government affairs. The Enrolled Voters recently gave their unanimous approval to the Local Board's proposal to raise a loan of about £27000 for roads, storm water drainage and water mains."


On behalf of the Company, however, F. H. Sargeant, sounded a note of caution. "It is," he said, "to be hoped that the Ratepayers (many of whom are relatively new to the district) will not attempt to force the pace too rapidly in respect of heavy expenditure on public services. Milnerton is still a Local Board area, but may at any time be forced into the status of a Municipality, with attendant increased costs of administration". Indeed the growth of the Local Board's staff was illustrated six months later when discussions were started on the possibility of their being enrolled in the Joint Municipal Pension Fund, sponsored by the Provincial Administra­tion.


Complications of a different kind arose at the same time, when proposals were made under the Group Areas Act to have the entire township classified as "European". As a sign of goodwill the Company on February 29, made over to the Local Board a substantial area on the Koeberg Road for playing fields, the forerunner of a still more ambitious project, set off on April 22, 1952, when the Milnerton Local Board and the Directorate of the Milnerton Estates met "to discuss the acquisition of land for a Civic Centre, and land for recreational purposes for the Milner­ton community". Not only was agreement reached, under which further ground was handed over, including the so-called Park Area covering 216000 square feet leased at a nominal yearly rent of £1, but another 80 000 square feet was disposed of for £2 060, and 62 500 square feet, on Jansen, Koeberg and Jeppe Roads, for £1 675. Most of this was earmarked for schools and playgrounds, under a friendly arrangement with the Ad­ministrator.


So too an important financial question was clarified about the revalu­ing, for rateable purposes of the whole area. On this the Company's Chair­man commented: "In actual fact this step is long overdue from a public point of view, but it will obviously result in a heavy increase in rates. And Milnerton will also probably be forced into the status of a Municipality, with heavily increased expenses on Local Government affairs. Whilst unfortunate in some directions, these steps are the inevitable corollaries of the marked development in the area which has taken place in recent years. . ."


Another link with the past was broken when, in October 1952, J. W. S. (Willie) Langerman passed away, with his unique record as an original founder of the Township, of the Milnerton Turf Club and of other closely associated institutions, to say nothing of his longstanding membership of the Milnerton Estate directorate.


Big events were brewing throughout the year 1953. "The Milnerton Local Board," it was announced on June 29, of that year, "is actively engaged in the preparation of a scheme to provide main drainage facilities for the village. This highly desirable step will inevitably mean heavily increased rates. It is, however, expected that the scheme will be so planned that certain neighbouring areas will join therein and thus provide essential services at much less cost than would be the case if each separate local authority had its own scheme."


Commenting on the recent revaluation of the Milnerton Local Government area, Mr. Sargeant renewed his warn­ing: figures would not be available for some time, but valuations for rateable purposes would rise considerably and Milnerton be "forced to accept the expense of Municipal status".


Another significant change in outlook was the decision to reserve and sub-divide 80 acres of land for industrial purposes, distinct from the already well-established township at Paarden Island. Fresh signs of a developing and established community were the operations of the School Board which in 1953 hired the Milnerton Hall "for educational purposes, until the completion of the school building in Zastron Road" . . . En­couragement too in another field came from the increasing attendance at the Race Course, the service to which was substantially improved, with the completion, in 1953, of the new Railway Station on the Cape Town Foreshore. This so encouraged the trustees of the Turf Club that they even offered to buy outright the land on which they operated, at a figure around £200 000.


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