Much ado about heritage sites in Bay area: Weekend Post

IT WAS good to see a letter engaging with heritage from Paul Rowe in the Weekend Post.

Much is being done in attempts to maintain our heritage sites but as we all know – from driving about and thanks to the media – much more effort, encouragement and budget from the public purse is needed. The Donkin Reserve, in particular, which I visited for the Garden of Remembrance inauguration, is cleaned up sporadically, rather than continuously.

Perhaps now that our late councillors have indigenous trees on the reserve planted in their memory, the area will be maintained more regularly.

I encourage more readers to send in their observations and suggestions, supporting the respect for, and restoration of our small store of historically important sites.

This is needed across all areas of our city, and also in Uitenhage and Despatch. Much desecration has been observed which insults the memory of all communities.

As far as the Donkin row houses are concerned, Mr Rowe, the papers were at one time full of protests regarding the lack of sensitivity to the front facade “restoration” by the owner and the removal of some chimneys and sections of the rear of the buildings.

And that was just the beginning. The provincial authorities did not protect this important heritage site and now we see the result.

As a matter of interest, our local building inspectorate too maintained a deafening silence instead of supporting the terms of the National Heritage Resources Act No 25 of 1999. Fortunately, MPL Ross Purdon, of the DA, has added his considerable influence to the heritage cause from his position in the Bhisho Legislature, so there is light on the horizon!

As a matter of accuracy, regarding my family members, Elizabeth and Rufane Donkin: According to the official records, Sir Rufane took his own life by hanging, some years after his second marriage. Elizabeth died in Meerut, India, of a fever before Rufane was posted to South Africa.

Their only child, George, was sent to England, to be raised by his grandparents, the Markhams.

As Paul Rowe says, the Dean of York was Elizabeth’s father.