Driving through Wynberg I often take a short cut past these rather pleasing townhouses in Oak Ave/Devonshire Rd, and always wonder about their history. Today, looking them up in the book Wynberg: A special place by Helen Robinson, I discovered that in the 1930s a Dutch entrepreneur, Rozelaar, purchased the land and built a factory on it. He then encouraged a group of 60 diamond cutters from Holland and Belguim to come to Cape Town on a two year contract to establish a South African branch of his father's firm in Holland. He also built the Hollandia Flats opposite the factory to house the workers and their families. Funnily enough, a canal runs between the townhouses and the factory - providing another link with Holland. The diamond cutters thrived during the 1930s and early forties, and local youths were apprenticed to the firm. Many of them stayed on when their contracts ended. The diamond business closed in the 1980s and the Hollandia flats were converted into comfortable townhouses. The area is now mainly residential with not a a factory in sight.
1 year ago