Forgotten history flowers

2016-05-24 06:00

Murals and artworks are some of the ways the history of the Adderley Street flower sellers may be memorialised.

This as the City of Cape Town and the Central City Improvement District (CCID) work with the flower sellers to revitalise Trafalgar Place and the memorial for the Archdeacon Thomas Lightfoot, located in the square immediately behind the flower sellers.

Ward councillor Dave Bryant applied to have the fountain refurbished and moved to the Company’s Garden (“Vandalised memorial to be moved”, People’s Post 9 December 2014). Bryant proposed that its location was not as suitable as when the fountain was first installed, as there was no longer a working water source and foot traffic around the memorial had decreased significantly.

However, an investigation by City officials has found the statue has a significant heritage link to the Adderley Street flower sellers. It has been recommended that the fountain remain at the site after it is restored (“Fountain stays in Adderley St”, People’s Post 23 February).

Johan van der Merwe, Mayco member for energy, environmental and spatial planning says: “The rare Veronese marble memorial was unveiled in 1907 by the mayor of Cape Town when the flower sellers were already well established in this square. The history of the Archdeacon and the flower sellers is intertwined in this space.”

The Lightfoot Memorial Fountain stands in honour of Archdeacon Thomas Lightfoot (1831-1904), a missionary and well-respected member of early Cape Town, who was renowned for his work with the poor.

He worked with all races and cultural groups across the city, and championed changes to a law which prevented non-whites from entering the Company’s Garden promenade unless they were suitably attired.

Following his death, a memorial in the shape of a drinking fountain was unveiled in his honour in Trafalgar Place.

The 3m high fountain is made almost entirely of rare red Verona marble and is a copy of one in the market place in Verona, Italy, created in the 14th century.

The 109 years of exposure to Cape Town’s weather has left the memorial in need of restoration, says Van der Merwe.

“The location of the memorial at the flower market, a Cape Town tourism icon, as well as the many linkages that the Archdeacon’s life has with other historic sites in the central city, presents the City with a unique opportunity to not only restore the memorial, but also investigate the possibility of a public art project with the flower sellers, historic interpretation and other interventions to make the square more successful as an urban public space and tourism destination,” he says.

The initiative is still being discussed with the flower sellers and has been presented to the Good Hope Subcouncil.

“There is as yet no indication of funding or time frames, because the project details are still in the planning stage. From here City officials will work hard to prepare a plan and tender based on the collaborative efforts of everyone involved,” Van der Merwe says.


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