I was fascinated with Mrs. Ball’s account of early Plumstead in the Southfield Road area, and I started thinking back to when my folks moved to Plumstead. There is a lot I have forgotten but I was quite surprised that I remember as much as I do.
My family, name of Mc Allister, moved to Cape Town from Bloemfontein in 1951 and we moved to Plumstead in 1952, after spending a year in the old Herschel Hotel, which used to be at the top of Grove Avenue in Claremont.
My parents had chosen a plot on the corner of Rotherfield Road (No. 78) and Dick Burton Street, and to me it looked like the middle of the bundu. After my mother had planned the house, it was built by a gentleman by the name of Moore who was an Englishman. At that stage ours was the only house so far down Dick Burton Street; and Rotherfield Road, south of the park, was just a white sand track.
Dick Burton Street was a reddish dirt road down to Prince George Drive, which had a dirt service road, now tarred. Quite a few of the Bluegums which lined it are still there. There was a level crossing where the railway line crossed Prince George Drive, and I seem to remember something about golfer Bobby Locke being involved in an incident there. Maybe other readers remember more about that too.
There was a vlei where Plumstead Preparatory School is, and also one on the other side of Prince George Drive, and we used to see flamingoes wading in the water, hence the badge with a flamingo for the Prep. School and the pink in the uniforms.
The whole area down to Prince George Drive was bush, grass, Port Jackson trees and rows of pampas grass, (probably windbreaks) which ran parallel to Dick Burton Street. I used these stretches of pampas for my steeplechases, being crazy about horses at 11 or 12 years old. I used to spend hours galloping around (I was the horse) in those fields, quite alone. There was a little herd of horses, 3 or 4, which used to wander around grazing, and I was always ready with a tit-bit for them when they poked there heads over our garden wall.
In winter the fields around our house collected a great deal of water, and catching tadpoles in those marvelous brackish puddles was the favourite pastime. In the spring the fields used to be gloriously arrayed in blue lupines – a wonderful sight.
My mother bought all her groceries from Robin Farm Stall (Now Robin’s Nest) in Victoria Road and they were delivered to us once or twice a week. The stall was owned by Mr. & Mrs. Clacher. Mrs. Clacher still runs Robin’s Nest. Next door to the Robin Farm Stall was a house, quite old, and opposite, over Victoria Road, was a small house which I rather think was wood and iron. Of course there were no houses other than this one on that side of the road. Blackburn’s Pharmacy, now moved, was in Victoria Road from the early fifties as was Super Service Station, now totally revamped, the Post Office building also had a dairy, later a gents hairdresser. I remember the post office having separate entrances for different race groups and there was a division down the middle of the interior. I used to feel so uncomfortable going in there! In the 1970’s these discriminating things were removed to my, and no doubt everyone else’s, relief.
My mother used to get her meat from Mr. Garcez, who had his butchery in Victoria Road opposite the cricket grounds in what is now a gas refill shop.
During the fifties houses started springing up like mushrooms around us in Rotherfield Road. In the brand new houses opposite and nearby us on our corner plot were families by the names of Thompson, Kirby, Weeks, Schmidt, Young, Farr, Redding-Jones, Kieswetter, Foley, and Lotter. Further down Rotherfield Road, near the park, lived the Baileys who are still there in fact.
(By Mrs. Venner – Part 1)
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