Red tape on broken glass

2015-06-16 06:00
The sale of the Glencairn glass works site has been tied up with red tape for almost a decade.

David Erickson

The sale of the Glencairn glass works site has been tied up with red tape for almost a decade. PHOTO: David Erickson

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There are hopes that a buyer for a derelict glass factory in Simon’s Town may be found. That is if red tape preventing the sale of the property can be cut.

The Simon’s Town Museum has been trying to sell the property for almost a decade, says Commander Eddie Wesselo.

He confirmed there had been a potential buyer, but was not sure if the buyer was still interested.

However, before any property can be removed from the Museum’s care, consent must be given by the provincial government.

The glass factory was established in 1902 when Cape Town Breweries expressed an interest in a local manufacturer to produce bottles for beer, wine and spirits and ultimately other glass products, including sheet glass, says Simon’s Town Historical Society chairperson David Erickson.

At that time, with all bottles shipped from overseas, sand of the required quality at Simon’s Town made it a perfect location to establish the factory.

A site at Glencairn was chosen due to the ample supplies of sand, clay and water in the vicinity together with lime/limestone deposits that were previously mined by the Salt River Cement Company, and the proximity of the railway line.

Production began in 1903, but lasted only two years due to technical and quality problems.

The surrounding properties were subdivided in 1972. A decade later the first excavation of the site took place, followed by ano­ther in 1992, in an effort to record the artifacts before housing development reached the site.

In 2009 a water main that lies near the glass works site developed a substantial leak, submerging the underground to a depth of approximately 1 to 1½ metres. A number of artifacts, such as various types of fire clay blocks, wedges, cylindrical pipes and tank feeder pipes, were ruined.

A formal application needs to be made to the minister of cultural affairs and sport by the board of trustees before a decision can be made, says department spokesperson Tania Colyn.

“The Museum Ordinance states that all immovable property owned by the board of trustees of a province-aided museum cannot be sold without the approval of the minister,” she says.

The department is “not aware of an application that has been submitted”, Colyn says.

“The board would need to submit the application in order for a decision to be made by the minister.”

Wesselo says the museum has now been directed to the correct provincial contact, and will be drafting an application

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