August 15, 2021
Named, legend has it, because they ran out of cement and used sugar instead.
The Bufflesjags river bridge was built 1845 by the Royal Engineers. It is referred to as a Mitchell/ Montegu bridge. It was part of the”Groote Wagen Weg’ that carried the eastern highway until the 1950s.
It has long been considered a local landmark and is described by historians: Hans Fransen, Dr Mary Cooke & Edmund Burrows : as consisting of 10 red sandstone buttresses joined by teak struts brought up the river to Malgas from the wreck of the Robert.
The bridge was damaged by floods 11/11/1936 and has been the subject of proper restoration ever since. It was declared a National Monument 6 Feb. 1989 Number: 18541/9/2/092/0067 and has become a grade 2 heritage site. Various local municipal departments and heritage bodies applied for repair /restoration work in 1950s, 1980s, 2000s.
One of the piers sagged and concrete and cables were used to shore it up, but without real repair the wood has degraded further and with successive floods, notably 2009, most of the wood has gone completely.
In 2016 the Heritage Monitoring Project set out to define the Ten Most Endangered Heritage Sites in the country. Swellendam Heritage Association entered the Sugar Bridge and it was named second on the list. The heritage listing received a lot of media attention and Heritage Western Cape took up the cause placing the bridge as their profile photo on social media.
Members of Swellendam Heritage Association attended a BELCom meeting where restoration of the bridge was on the agenda 22/11/16 and the decision was to support the restoration.
The problem remains getting a Provincial department to take the responsibility.
Support includes; Swellendam Municipality, Swellendam Heritage Association, Swellendam Aesthetics committee, the Drostdy museum, Bufflesjags farmers, visiting architects & engineers.
Beside the bridge now is a drift for vehicles and there is a railway bridge close by.
The consensus of opinion is that the sugar bridge be restored as a pedestrian bridge for the use of local people who need to cross the river to and from work and who at present use the railway bridge for the purpose. Steel would seem to be a more economic material for the replacement.
Several visiting experts have offered their services towards the restoration, most recently Dennis Walters, a civil Engineer with experience working on Eastern Cape bridges, who has offered to prepare a proposal with costings at no charge. Fassler Kamstra + Holmes Architects have also worked on a restoration plan. Local farmers feel their workers need a safe method to cross the river and would look to make the bridge a tourist site.
Swellendam Heritage Association (Swellendam Trust) has made many applications over years for the restoration of this bridge and would bring their support, time & skills to this venture.
Swellendam Heritage Association
Contact / Kontak:
Bank besonderhede / details:
Nedbank (Swellendam) Branch / Tak 19876500 Swellendam Heritage Association / Swellendam Erfenisvereniging Rekening Nr / Account Nbr 1118273125
Please enter your surname as reference. Meld asseblief u van as verwysing.
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C/O Moolman Street 10
Western Cape Province ,
TO: Mr Dana Du Plessis
CC: Mr Anton Groenewald
FROM: The Swellendam Heritage Association (SHA)
SWELLENDAM FAMILY CREST PROJECT
Our meeting of 22 August 2018 to discuss the potential Family Crest Project has reference.
As communicated at the above meeting, it is the intention of the Swellendam Heritage Association (SHA) to launch a community focussed and inclusive heritage project with support from the Municipal Management Team.
This project entails the design and installation of board mounted family crests on existing lamp posts along the western end of Voortrek Street in Swellendam.
The aim of the project is not only to enhance our town and draw visitors, but also to draw together the diverse families within the Swellendam community. Less privileged families will be sponsored and assisted with the design and erection of their family crests to ensure representation that is true to the intention of this initiative.
Approval for this initiative from the Municipality, as well as assistance with the erection of the Crests is requested. We plan to launch a pilot project consisting of three (3) installations following which an assessment will be made. Depending on the outcome of the assessment the intention is to proceed with the rollout of approximately 60 installations.
I trust that the above will meet with your approval.
Chairman – SHA
The Swellendam Heritage Association has commenced on a project to have Swellendam family crests displayed on metal hoardings attached to the lampposts along the West end of Voortrek Street. The Swellendam Municipality has approved a pilot project in this respect. The pilot project saw the erection of four hoardings displaying eight family crests (two crests, one on each side of a hoarding). The purpose of the pilot project is to gauge public opinion with regard to heritage, inclusivity and aesthetic value before commencing with the full project. Examples of these family crests in the pilot project can now be viewed on the lampposts opposite Moolmanshof.
The Heritage Association wants this to be a Swellendam community project. All families, whether with historic ties, who currently reside in or are involved in Swellendam are asked to be part of this project.
Our picturesque town is unique in terms of situation, landscape and natural scenery. Her history is illustrious and diverse, created and formed through contributions of all ethnic, social and administrative role-players. So special is she that Dr. Joan Prins, a Swellendammer of old, once referred to her as ” The Swellendam Mixed Grill”. The Heritage Association, through this project, aims to give recognition to those past or present within the greater Swellendam community.
The pilot project will continue for the balance of this year and next year, if all goes according to plan, a huge effort will go into filling the western end of the main street with family crests.
The Heritage Association would also like to record its thanks to the Municipality for approval of the pilot phase of the project, support and the erection of the hoardings. The association’s thanks also goes to the participants in the project and Alex Hayn of Atelier Studio for design assistance. Francois and Shaun from Lotz signs for the manufacture of the Crest Boards. Johan van Schalkwyk for the manufacture of the frames and assisting Francois du Rand and Frik Erasmus and their team from the municipality for the mounting of the Crests. Without their participation SHA could not have commenced the project. We are convinced that this project will make a unique contribution to the distinction of our town..
All families who would like to participate or would like to give recognition to an old Swellendam family, can submit the names and their contribution to the association. Families who do not possess an existing family crest will be assisted to create a crest using the background of their family’s history. It would also be appreciated if contributors would sponsor families who may need assistance financially as a way of possibly repaying such a family or any other personal reason.
We are geared to launch the main project in January 2020 so get ready to order your families crest in the meantime. We will advise costs in due course.
On 19th March 2018 the church council of the DR Church. Swellendam decided to ask the Swellendam Heritage Association to make a survey of the remaining graves on the church property because, at the time, there was no complete catalogue of the details of the graves. That made it difficult for researchers and family members to get information they required. It will also make history more accessible to visitors and will make it easier to find a specific grave. This survey subject to specific conditions contains the following:
The execution of these decisions was a special journey of discovery into the history of Swellendam, with this publication the church council, together with the Heritage association, hope to contribute to the writing of the history of Swellendam and hope that it will also be a valuable source of information to researchers and visitors to Swellendam.
The Church council hereby thanks the Swellendam Heritage committee for their great assistance and knowledgeable advice in the successful documenting and repair of the graveyard.