Adderley Street

ADDERLEY STREET: On 21 Feb 1850 the British government was coerced by the people of Cape Town to divert a convict ship destined for the Cape to the convict settlement in Van Diemens Land in Tasmania. Sir Charles Adderley, a member of the British parliament, championed the cause of the Cape colonists.As a token of gratitude the Municipality of Cape Town presented Adderley with the considerable sum of 100 pounds and named the city’s main street after him even though he had not, and never did, set foot in this city.
The previous name of Adderley street was the Heerengracht, when translated from Dutch means Gentlemen’s Canal. Here Cape Town’s prosperous lived and the canal removed their waste. By 1850, the canal had been covered over but the gracht continued to carry storm water under the road. The exits and ventilation holes were sealed, but the furrows were never filled. Some years later, gaslight was introduced along Adderley Street, and slowly but surely, over many years, gas seeped into a great subterranean chamber carved out by the underground water.
At 10.33 am on Tuesday 13 June 1905, a worker was installing tram lines along this busy street and heating up metal until it was white-hot. A stray spark ignited gas leaking from the underground chamber and Adderley Street exploded! The ground was ripped open and blue flames burst out of the hissing cracks and fissures. People and horse-drawn carriages disappeared down the holes or were thrown like rag dolls across the street. After this the canal was filled in.

STANDARD BANK: Opulent Victorian style, designed by Charles Freeman in 1880. In 1920 an extra floor added. Britannia on top. The carved heads at the entrance are of Ceres, goddess of Agriculture and Poseidon, god of the sea and trade.

SLAVE LODGE: First slaves arrived in 1658 – housed in the old fort. SL built in 1679 to house company slaves near workplace – Co’s Gardens. Also housed convicts & mentally ill persons and acted informally as a brothel. Pediment in Parliament Street shows Anreith’s version of the Br Coat of Arms – worn-out-looking lion due to Napoleonic Wars and surprised unicorn. Afterwards used as a courtroom, office of Receiver of Revenue, a post office and a cultural history museum. J & M v R’s tombstones in garden – buried in Batavia. Anreith born in S Germany in 1754; schooled in Rococo, basis of later Baroque style. Also carpenter of note. Master Sculptor to DEIC.

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