Monument to return to its former glory

By

Chitra Bodasing

News editor

Joburg East EXPRESS

Caxton East Rand Newspapers

The badly vandalised Scottish Horse War Memorial, in Kensington, is on its way to returning to its former glory.
Last week Mr Eric Itzkin, the deputy director of immovable heritage in the city’s department of community development, confirmed that the purchase order for restoration and repair of the monument was approved.
“I am glad to say that people have been appointed to conduct the restoration. The Scottish Horse War Memorial is a landmark structure that gives Kensington its identity. Once the restoration is complete we hope to get the support of the community to help make sure that no one vandalises the monument again,” he said.
In the June 1, 2010 edition of the EXPRESS it was reported that the lightning conductor on the back of the cross was missing. Ms Sharon Doubell, a Kensington resident, said that she was concerned as the monument had a hole chopped in the centre and also about the beginning of the tunnel underneath it.
She believes that people dug up the monument thinking that there were items of value buried inside.
Last week Ms Lee Cahill, a Kensington resident and member of the Joburg Advocacy Group (JAG), said that she was delighted that the restoration of the Scottish Horse War Memorial will be going ahead. “Johannesburg has a rich and varied history and we believe it is essential to preserve that history for both residents and for local and international tourists. Apart from its historic value, the memorial is also situated on one of the city’s most spectacular view sites and offers a unique vista of both the inner city and the landscape to the east, which includes the Bezuidenhout farm, one of the original farms on which Johannesburg was established. Sunset views are, in particular, a special treat.
“Further, as much as it is important to preserve the site for present usage, it is also important to preserve it for the use, information and benefit of future generations. A connection to all aspects of our history gives us a sense of where we come from and solid ground on which to build a new and vibrant future,” she said.
JAG has been working closely with the city in the hopes of having the monument restored. Ms Cahill thanked Mr Itzkin who, according to her, went out of his way to obtain budget for the project and to complete the tendering process required for specialist contractors to undertake the work on the monument.
“Sincere thanks are equally due to the Transvaal Scottish Regiment and, in particular, to Lieutenant Colonel Don Smythe, who is assisting us with, among other things, photographs of the original monument and the names of those listed on it as some names were lost when the monument was vandalised,” said Ms Cahill. Colonel Smythe said that he and the regiment are ecstatic about the restoration. “There are a lot of monuments that have been vandalised and we are happy that something is being done to repair the damage at the Scottish Horse War Memorial. We have great interest in this monument.
“This memorial is a replica of the one erected on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle in Scotland,” he said.
Ms Cahill said that the community will also be assisting with security measures to ensure that the restored site remains safe and undamaged.
She said that the long-term objective is to work with the city to make this monument into an attractive sanctuary equipped with benches, permanent garbage bins and possibly even some trees and flower beds.
“The immediate project will consist of a full restoration of the monument itself, which is built from the indigenous stone found in the area. Since JAG began working with Mr Itzkin on this project, the I Love Kensington Association (Ilka) has formed a Heritage Trust dedicated to this kind of work in the area. As JAG’s primary focus is on civil society advocacy, we have therefore asked the trust’s committee whether it would be prepared to take over the project management of this restoration, which will include liaising with the local community to assist with security arrangements.
“JAG will continue to offer both information and support in any way that it can, and we look forward to the day when we can all enjoy the beauty of the restored monument again,” said Ms Cahill.
Mr Brendon Burmester, chairperson of Ilka, said, “This is exciting news. We will help make sure that the monument is secure.
“We are going to raise funds for a camera so that the monument can be monitored. We will also seek the services of local security companies. I am glad that council has taken a step to make sure that historical areas such as the Scottish Horse War Memorial are kept in good condition. A meeting will be held to discuss how we are going to go ahead with plans,” said Mr Burmester.
The Scottish Horse War Memorial is situated on Caledonia Hill. Access is from Highland Road.
The monument commemorates all officers and men from the Scottish Horse Regiment who were killed in action, died of wounds, disease or by accident during the South African Anglo-Boer War.
It is one of Johannesburg’s earliest war memorials overlooking the site of one of the largest remount camps of the Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902.