Background and History of the Association
The information, which follows below, is based on the Editor’s Letter, which appeared in the Franschhoek Tatler, December 2016.
The Franschhoek Trust was founded in 1986. The founding members were; Douglas Aikman, Marianne Gertenbach (then curator of the Huguenot Museum), Pieter Haumann (then Mayor of Franschhoek), the late Jan Roux (master builder and restorer), the late Anthonij Rupert, Shirley Parkfelt (Chair until 2006), Cheryl Trull (wife of Michael Trull who started the Vignerons de Franschhoek) and Hannetjie du Preez (then with the former National Monuments Council).
The Trust was founded in response to the proposed development of a large retirement village between Cabrière Street and the Franschhoek River which would have irrevocably and dramatically changed the ambience of the village.
By 1987 the Trust had started recruiting members, for whom they offered a program of outings and talks every month. The following year saw the commencement of a major project that would result in the Todeschini and Japha Guidelines for Development in the Village and Valley. These led to the formation of an Aesthetics Committee, which – until it was disbanded by Stellenbosch Municipality – ensured that development took place in a sympathetic way. Parts of the Todeschini and Japha Guidelines have subsequently been incorporated into later town planning regulations.
1988 was the tercentenary of the arrival of the French Huguenots at the Cape and also saw the opening of the reconstructed R45 from the Paarl (R301) turnoff to Franschhoek. The Trust, with the support of SAPPI, planted 300 trees along the road. Although many didn’t survive they are still a major feature of the drive into Franschhoek. Another major feature of the drive into Franschhoek, especially in spring, is the white Lord Macartney roses that edge the road in places. These have been a feature of the road for more than a hundred years and the Trust encouraged their planting when the road was upgraded.
One of the Trust’s major achievements came in 1989 when it restored the historic watermill on La Cotte with money raised in association with the Franschhoek Wine Cellar. Ten cents on every bottle of the La Cotte brand wine that was sold was donated to the project. The impressive sum of R30 000 was raised in this way.
Also in 1989 the Trust started giving out awards for good architecture and excellent restorations.
Another big project followed in 1990 when the Trust restored the wall around the old Dutch Reformed Cemetery with funds from the Roland and Leta Hill Trust. Later that year the Trust won the Cape Times Environmental Award for its work.
In 1991 the Trust developed a self-guided heritage walking tour and brochure for the village. This was updated in 2007 and this version is still available from the tourist information office.
Maintenance of the Dutch Reformed Church’s thatched roof had become a challenge and so in 1993 the Trust hosted two dinners to enable it to set up a trust fund for the continued thatching of the roof. Both Dr A. Rupert, the Trust’s then patron, and Mr Eric Samson were most generous donors towards this project.
A village museum was started in 1998 and in 1999 the Trust developed the rose garden outside the Town Hall, which it planted with old rose varieties. For a period the Trust was also the custodian of the wetlands at the R45/R301 intersection.
After the Franschhoek Ratepayers Association disbanded, the Trust changed its constitution to empower it to also deal with these types of issues – at least to the extent that its resources allowed.
For the past few years the Trust’s profile has been lower as the number of active members has declined and it has been focused on commenting on the constant stream of development applications that are made in Franschhoek.
Measures have been taken to revitalise it and to ensure that it protects what makes Franschhoek special for residents and visitors alike for many years to come.
Acknowledgements to Siegfried Schäfer, editor of the Franschhoek Tatler.