City’s historic lampposts are safe

2013-05-01 00:00

THE ornate Edwardian lampposts outside the Pietermaritzburg City Hall are staying put.

They will not be sacrificed in the urban renewal upgrade being undertaken by Msunduzi Municipality.

In fact, says project director Sizwe Zulu, the lampposts are to be fixed and refurbished.

The Witness recently published an artist’s impression of what a revamped city centre will look like once the project is completed later this year.

Resident Erich Dedekind was concerned that the lampposts were to be removed as he did not see them in the picture.

He rushed to city hall and his unease grew when he saw workers placing red tape around the lampposts.

A manager in the municipal manager’s office, Madeleine Jackson-Plaatjies, passed on his concerns to the Independent Development Trust (IDT), which is overseeing the Pietermaritzburg Urban Renewal Project (Purp).

Zulu, of the IDT, gave his assurance that the historic lampposts would not be removed.

Former Msunduzi city planner Brian Bassett confirmed that the lampposts were of historical value. He said they dated from the Edwardian era and were bought shortly after 1901 when the city hall had been rebuilt. The original building burnt down in 1898.

Bassett said he was glad the lampposts were being retained as they underscored the historical integrity of the precinct around the city hall.

“There is the Tatham Art Gallery Building and Old Publicity House, which used to be the city’s first fire station.

“Just up the road is the post office building, which looks like the palace of a prince in 19th century Paris. There is the stately legislature building and behind it in Church Street the recently restored Colonial Building.”

Bassett said the buildings preceded the city’s other unique feature — its network of historic lanes, which were also crying out to be restored.

He pointed out that for a long time tourist brochures proclaimed Pietermaritzburg as one of the best preserved Victorian cities in the world.

“It is in the city’s economic interest to make the city’s central area as authentic as possible.

“Now with the new tourism hub being developed nearby, the city centre with its stately buildings and historic street furniture like the Edwardian lampposts can be a huge marketing asset,” said Bassett.

He recalled that at one time the council had some of the lampposts in storage in one of its depots.

“Perhaps they are still there and can still be used,” he said.


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