TOPIC: Newlands Village – A gentrified landscape?
SPEAKER: Louise van Riet

Louise’s talk, based on the research she undertook for her Master’s dissertation, will start with a short history of the area, examining the development of the village through various formative periods, up to the forced removals of the 1960s that kick-started the gentrification process.
The talk will examine the transformation of the townscape from then to the present, touching on gentrification theories and how Newlands fits in to the model.
Formal unsuccessful conservation attempts over the last 25 years will be discussed, concluding with the present proposed Heritage Protection Overlay Zone that is in the process of being formalised.

Louise’s study focused on the part of the original 1852 subdivision of the Newlands Estate between Governor’s Lane and the stream north-east of Kildare Road, and did not include the Palmboom Road precinct, which has a comparable historical development including forced removals and transformation through gentrification.

Newlands Village
As Hans Fransen points out, “Newlands owes its existence to a ‘Company Garden’. It was at the Nieuwland that Willem Adriaan van der Stel in 1700 established a garden and a oak plantation. Apart from an ijncreasingly dense zone of habitation along the old wagon road (Newlands Avenue) and later the present Main Road, Newlands, unlike Rondebosch, never developed into a ‘village’. What is known as ‘Newlands Village’, higher up between Main St. and Newlands Avenue, is a 19th century working-class area associated with the breweries that spang up in Newlands because of its pure mountain water. It was largely sub-divided and laid out by L. Cauvin in 1853-56”. (H. Fransen: 2004:111)

Beatrice Law, in her book ‘Papenboom in Newlands’ says that “the Papenboom Estate covered the essentail core of present day Newlands…. [  ] Through the years the brewing industry has been an underlying influence in the development of Newlands. The grant in 1695 by Simon van der Stel of 30 morgen to Rutgert mensing so that he could set up a brewery, was the start. Other breweries followed in the nineteenth century, usually associated with well-to-do owners who lived in the area in gracious homes. Newlands Village, an area of smaller cottages, grew up to house the labour force for the beer industry. Thus the two contrasting eleents of Papenboom and the newlands of today were introduced as a consequence of the brewing activities there”.

Peter Hart identifies the age of Newlands Avenue, saying that “The road itself was part of ‘the wagon road to the forest’ used by van Riebeeck’s foresters. His Journal on 2.08.1653 records: “Resolved therefore to send out carpenters to the above-mentioned large forest and, as there must be a serviceable road for the wagon, to send out the men the day after tomorrow to prepare one”. The first explicit mention of the road comes two years later on 11.09. 1655: “Have sent all the men to the forest today to carry some more beams and planks from the forest out on to the wagon road”. So Newlands Avenue is the second oldest road in the Cape, after the Main Road (as far as Rondebosch).

Louise van Riet is an architect and heritage practitioner who lives and works her solo practice in Newlands. She graduated in architecture at UCT in 1987, and in 2016completed a M.Phil in Conservation of the Built Environment, where the title of her thesis was Gentrified Landscapes and their significance as heritage – the case of Newlands Village, Cape Town

Selected Bibliography:
Beatrice Law (2007). Papenboom in Newlands
Hans Fransen (2004) The Old Buildings of the Cape
James Walton (1978) The Josephine Mill and its owners
Joyce Newton Thompson (1968) The story of a house
Peter Hart (1999) Claremont, Newlands and Bishopcourt street names