Woodstock Hall restored to mint condition

06 Sep 2022 in Where We Govern

During the hard lockdown period of Covid-19, the City of Cape Town’s Woodstock Town Hall was severely vandalised resulting in the closure of the facility for major repairs and maintenance. It took 14 months and approximately R3 669 000, to complete the full refurbishment, including extensive consultation for heritage permits needed to conduct work on this historical asset.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis celebrated the restoration of the facility last week and marked the occasion with the first tree-planting, the beginning of a series of events taking place in September in commemoration of National Arbor Month.

‘This past week we marked the progress of the restoration of this historic facility. It is a building we can all feel proud of and I hope it will serve the community for another 100 years. I wish to thank the team which worked on this project and to Councillor Ian McMahon for driving this renewal project,’ said Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

In the mid-1800s Woodstock was a bustling village with noteworthy infrastructural developments such as its own police station, post office, school and a number of churches.

This attracted a diverse group of people including emancipated slaves, railway workers, missionaries, British soldiers and immigrants from Portugal and of Jewish descent.

It quickly became a residential suburb, filled with working class people of all creeds and races. By 1884 it was the third largest town in the colony with the Sulaimania Masjid established in 1932, for the growing Islamic community.

Due to the industrial and residential mixed land use zoning, lower Woodstock could maintain its racial diversity during apartheid.

Inter-racial property transactions and changes in occupancy were relatively permissible, subject to obtaining the relevant permits.

In 1935, Woodstock Town Hall was built and opened for public use by all of its residents.

The geometric shape of the building was a popular architectural style at the time, celebrated for its modernity because of its concrete foundations, steel windows and corrugated roof.

The floor of the main hall was made of marble ideal for dancing, and the stage featured a large orchestra pit with enough room for the full Cape Town Orchestra.

The hall has since been a significant part of the social lifestyle of the community, serving as the ideal venue for weddings, birthdays and special business functions.

Unfortunately during the lockdown, maintenance of the facility was interrupted and vandalism brought it into severe disrepair.

In July 2021, the Recreation and Parks Department established a project team of specialists, including environment and heritage consultants, as well as various electrical, infrastructural and architectural contractors.

Although no new features were added, the following repairs valued at approximately R3 669 403, were completed at the main and minor hall:

  • Electrical repairs
  • Exterior and interior wall painting
  • Roof replacement at the minor hall
  • Waterproofing
  • Ceiling replacement
  • Repairs to ironmongery and terrazzo flooring
  • Repairs to window frames, glazing and doors
  • Replacement of vinyl and timber floors, tiles
  • Replacement of emergency push bars, piping and fittings

In addition, the park adjacent to the hall has been fully equipped with new outdoor gym equipment, also unveiled as part of the festivities. Ward allocation funding estimated at R88 000 made this valuable enhancement possible.

‘Many of our facilities suffered damage during the lockdown, but we are delighted that the community will soon be able to make use of this historic hall. I encourage residents to take ownership of this landmark and help us keep it in mint condition,’ said Councillor Patricia van der Ross, Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health.

Woodstock Town Hall remains closed for bookings until all 15 occupational compliance certificates are in place. Further communication will be issued once the hall re-opens for public use.